The Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps
Pen & Sword Military, 2018
Reviewed by Paul Leach
Ian Baxter’s The Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps stands as a welcome addition to Pen & Sword’s Images of War series and should be of interest to the general World War II enthusiast and tabletop wargamer alike. The book offers strategic and operational overviews for each year of the Afrika Korps’ existence in three chapters: Desert Blitzkrieg, 1941; Attack and Retreat, 1942; and Destruction in Tunisia, 1943. At three or so pages each, these summaries go beyond minimal theatre flavoring and do a good job of providing context for the book’s collection of images. Each chapter introduction is followed by 30+ pages of rare wartime photographs, with any given page featuring one or two good-sized images accompanied by plenty of descriptive text. Appendices provide orders of battle of DAK divisions and further elaborate upon the equipment (weapons, engines, etc.) of the panzers and other armoured vehicles present in North Africa between 1941 and 1943.
As readers might expect, the book is packed with images and information (including combat roles and effectiveness) concerning all kinds of armoured and supporting vehicles: tanks, armoured cars, prime movers, halftracks, assorted self-propelled gun platforms and more. Photographs illuminate the long-range and logistically challenging nature of desert warfare, offering many depictions of vehicles carrying incredible amounts of stowage, with large wooden crates, multiple 20-litre jerrycans, rolled canvases and spare parts strapped to hull decks and sides, while water bottles, stick grenades and tropical pith helmets hang from turrets. There’s also plenty of images of Panzer IIIs using spare track links and road wheels for improvised protection. Other highlights include several pictures of the Desert Fox in the field, DAK soldiers manning an old desert fort and a variety of (often sun-bleached) uniforms present in the theatre.
Recommended – especially for anyone who seeks inspiration for personalizing their DAK model vehicles and figures.