The image of the German Army of the Second World War is of a highly mechanised army, equipped with tanks that outclassed anything their opponents could field. Ironically that picture comes closest to being true late in the war, when the Germans were facing defeat. Earlier on, the light Panzer I, produced as a training tank, and the slightly heavier Panzer II, were actually the most numerous types during the victorious Blitzkrieg years. In Poland in 1939 the Panzer I was most numerous, followed by the Panzer II. Between them they accounted for over 2,600 from the total of just under 3,500 armoured vehicles in service. In May 1940 the Panzer I was beginning to fade away, although there were still over 500 in service, but the Panzer II, with 955 present, was the most numerous. Even as last as the invasion of the Soviet Union the Panzer II was still present in very large numbers, although had slipped to second place.
As a result these light tanks were an important part of the German war machine during its most successful period. This book covers their full history, from their original development, through the later versions and the different vehicles based on the same chassis (as the tank versions became obsolete various self propelled guns and tank destroyers using the same chassis were produced in large numbers), and on to their combat record.
The modelling section comes before the combat record, perhaps because it follows on logically from the camouflage and markings section, although it does feel a bit out of place here. The model section is unusually neutral in tone - these can often be quite judgemental (especially in warship books for some reason), but not here. There is a good model showcase section, showing the work that can be produced using the kits.
Overall this is a good summary of the development and combat record of these two important German tanks, supported by a good selection of photographs and illustrations, although I would have liked something showing the interlay layout of the vehicles.
1 - Panzer I & II Design and Development
2 - Panzer I Variants
3 - Panzer II
4 - Panzer II Conversions and Developments
5 - Panzer I & II in Detail
6 - Camouflage and Markings
7 - Model Showcase
8 - Modelling Products
9 - Panzer I & II in Combat
Author: Robert Jackson
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military