No. 1-1 Panzerkampfwagen I Kleintraktor to Ausf.B
ISBN 0-9708407-6-4
by Thomas L Jentz with scale prints by Hilary Louis Doyle
No. 1-2 Panzerkampfwagen I Kl.Pz.Bef.Weg, to VK 18.01
ISBN 0-9708407-8-0
by Thomas L Jentz with scale prints by Hilary Louis Doyle

Published by Panzer Tracts,
PO Box 334, Boyds, MD 20841, USA

Each Soft cover, 100 pages.

Reviews by Peter Brown

Anyone looking for reference material on the Panzer I series to build the new Tristar Panzer IA kit or the older Italeri or HPM versions will find these two volumes have more that they will need. No 1-1 appeared earlier in 2002 and No 2-2 is just out. The level of detail contained in them is amazing, and like all Tom Jentz's work it draws on original German sources and avoids the errors made in old wartime intelligence reports which have been accepted as accurate for so many years

While these early Panzers may not have the visual and other appeals of the later-war types, these were the vehicles with which the Panzertruppe gained their early victories. While they seem to be simple vehicles, like any production tank they existed in numerous variations and prototypes.

No 1-1 covers the development of the tank from the original open-topped trials and driver training machines and even includes plans and photos of the small batch of makeshift tanks built for manoeuvres. The amount of material presented here is far more than most would expect and includes plans, detail drawings and photos, yet this section only accounts for around the first one-third of the book while the main part covers the two initial production Panzer I tanks.

There is far more information than a vehicle enthusiast or modeller could hope for and maybe make use of. These tanks are shown not only outside using photos and 1:24th scale plans but also inside in incredible detail using original photos from the user manuals. Original drawings show the location of main and minor components as well as tool and equipment stowage, while detail close-up photos show suspension and tracks. There are sets of four-view plans for four variations on the Ausf.A and three Ausf.B build standards while additional detail drawings, photos and text show developments, changes in production and improvements made to tanks once they were in service. Interiors are also shown in detail, with original photos captioned to show what went where although one appears twice by accident and is included in Part 1-2 as a correction.

Part 2-2 continues the vehicle story with the kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen or command tanks based on the Panzer I chassis, initial versions and later improved types with added commander's cupola, plus driver training versions of the Panzer 1 Ausf.B series and those complete tanks made from Panzer 1 Ausf.A tank superstructures and turrets fitted to Ausf.B-type training vehicles as well as unit-modified training vehicles. Krupp's designs of tanks for export have in the past been misidentified as alternative designs for the Panzer I and II series but their real story is recounted here, together with two versions of the Panzer I intended specifically for export and details of planned export sales which never took place.

The two final Panzer I variants were very unlike the first vehicles, the VK 6.01 Ausf.C with its unusual E.W.141 armament and the heavy VK 18.01 Ausf.F intended for attacking strongpoints both used very different suspension systems. Along with these two versions produced in small numbers, several designs for fast tanks with different suspension systems are also included.

As with the first part, each vehicle is covered in great detail with clear photos of the tanks outside and in and 1:24th scale plans of each type, three sets for different Kl.Pz.Bef.Weg plus partial plans of the cupola variations, one set for the Schulfahrzeug training vehicle, four different export tanks and sets each for prototype and production VK 6.01 and VK 18.01 C and F models. Data tables and original works drawings are also included.

Service history of the Panzer I series is recounted, including operational reports from Spain comparing them with the oppositions' T-26 tanks and even a report of the small batch of tanks sold to China. Complete listings of vehicles on strength immediately before the outbreak of war are included, as is the use of all marks in action in the early campaigns.

The final section covers the colour schemes of the early Panzers, while written for the Panzer I it is also applicable to all Panzers up to 1942. This includes facsimiles of the original colours for the three-, two- and single-colour schemes and those used in Africa based on original paint chips. Details given here will make many people look again at existing photos and maybe plan repaints of their models! Tactical markings such as the playing card system used in the 1930, early designs for the Balkenkreuz, divisional signs for the early Panzer Divisions and the initial use of tactical number and letter codes are also described, with colour plates showing colours and markings for several vehicles.

These are longer format books than the earlier Panzer Tracts series I have seen, the fact that they need almost 200 pages to cover these vehicles shows how much material they contain. It is hard to recommended either book too highly, the effort which has gone into then is truly amazing and coverage and detail is so comprehensive it would be hard for anyone to produce a better account. Even if you already have material on the Panzer I you will not have as much as is here, and several long-held beliefs are shown to be faulty. Either but preferably both will be a worthy addition to your reference collection.

Page created September 24, 2002