Even if you're not a modeller of German WW2 armour, who doesn't like the colourful and varied camouflage schemes they dreamed up? When other armies were breaking up the monotony of overall green by the thrilling applications of brown or black the Germans were experimenting with a huge variety of patterns and colours that have both enticed and frustrated modellers for decades. AK Interactive have stepped in and given us a book on the camouflage schemes by and for artists.
Why artists? Well, this is not a book that will tell you the history of German paint schemes. Nor will it go into systemic detail on what common schemes came from which units or factories, though some of that information is buried in the captions with each picture. It is not filled with period photos, some B&W, some original colour (and isn't that a can o' worms!), some colourised. What AK Interactive has given you is a book full of 142 gorgeous colour side views of German vehicles as well as 27 more plates of hypothetical "1946" vehicles. Each photo has a caption that gives relevant information; sometimes this includes unit and date but always covers the paints used.
Since the profiles are the core of the book some more information might be in order. First off, the pictures are extremely well done, probably the best I've seen with the caveat that they are shadowed and in many cases weathered or dusted (but no rust). What this means is that you get a very nice reference for shadowing and modulation but the colours have been altered from a pure paint chip. It makes them inspirational but you'll want to refer to the paint chips provided on page three. Those paint chips have a chip for generic shadow and highlight for each of these base colours as well. I pulled a sub-set of 12 random photos to check for other interpretations or reference photos since I believe in trust but verify!. I found five photos (two colour), four other interpretations from other references, and rest assured I didn't find anything. The last is not a criticism as I didn't spend hours scouring my references so I am willing to assume that they exist and were used. I am willing to assume that because what I did find they matched exactly. By exactly I mean if the photo had the tank damaged, the painting mirrored it. The awesome photo of the halftrack in various shades of brown (one of my all time favorite camo schemes) that I compared is carefully mirrored brush stroke for brushstroke.
The ranges of camouflage portrayed is fairly extensive and it seems care was taken to focus on as many different patterns as possible. There are only two winter patterns and they were obviously chosen because they are partial patterns and visually interesting. The 1946 patterns are relatively logical and moderately useful although they are for the most part just standard 1945 camouflage.
Outside of the colour profiles you get two pages describing how they approached interpreting the photos and four pages of models and corresponding plates.
One small thing that is missing from the book is a discussion of primers. They do cover 8012 and a few pictures have the grey gun barrels but one thing that has not been well covered anywhere are the other primers used and what pieces got them and what factories used them. With the emphasis on chipping these days it would be extremely useful to have that information so that black fender components, for example, don't have red primer showing through.
If you want well researched side views of several dozen German AFV's and a few softskins for inspiration and reference this is a really good book. The profiles themselves are easily the prettiest that I've seen, far better than the Squadron Panzer Colours books and even the AJ Press and Wydawnictwo Militaria books. It is almost a coffee table art book in that respect. From a quick double check the schemes appear to be carefully researched and reliable. For the modeller who wants authentic paint schemes to put on their panzers, I'd put this book out there as the one to choose for a one stop reference.
For a historian who wants to know details of where/when/how this isn't the book. Spending a lot more money tracking down the Wydawnictwo Militaria books, the Squadron 3-volume set, and "Wehrmacht Heer Camouflage Colours 1939-1945" (good luck on the last) will give you that to a degree. The captions in this book will give you some of that information, at least for that specific referenced vehicle. However, the book even calls itself a "Camouflage Profile Guide" so it's not targeting that area.
We need a comprehensive book on German paint schemes, especially late war. I would plead with AK Interactive to write that book. It's obvious they have the information and the knowledge base to tap into and it would make a great companion piece to this book. However, this book does exactly what it sets out to do and provides the highest quality art I've seen for this type of book. On an informal note; after flipping through this book I wanted to get more panzer models because there were at least a dozen schemes I desperately want to play with using my trusty Badger airbrush. The book inspired me, what more can I ask of it?
Highs: Excellent artwork
Seems well researched and reliable
Huge number of reference profiles
Quality printing and bindingLows: Does not cover the camouflage history in much detail
Minimal primer discussionVerdict: Excellent buy and highly inspiring