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Book Review
French 2nd Armored Division
Armor Camouflage & Markings of the French 2nd Armored Division
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

In my experience, modelers do tend to create their own boundaries. While there is a great potential in both British and American WWII subjects within the ETO, other participants in the Theater do tend to get overlooked.

Perhaps, one of the most 'ignored' is the French 2nd Armored Division. So, just why should this be such an attractive modeling proposition? Well, let's start with basics. If you build Shermans then you can model all the Wartime variants but they have to be 'allocated' to specific Divisions and nationalities. If you model French M4s, virtually every variant can be modeled within the SAME Division.

Nor are variants of the M4 the only point of interest. The M10, M7, the M3 (and variants) along with the M8 or M20 were present. Fot those whose interest lies with the Half-track will find the M2, the M3, M5 and M9 amongst the Division's ToE.

In summary, a very rich vein of modeling potential...


The book.

Armor Camouflage & Markings of the French 2nd Armored Division is published by Model Centrum Progres and is # 8 in the Publisher's 'Armor Camouflage & Markings' series. The book is written by Claude Gillono who has published a number of other books in a similar vein for other publishers and whose work should require little introduction...

The book follows the format of the other books in this series, Softcover, A4 with 65 pages which include 20 full-color plates, 112 contemporary photos along with several pages of detailed markings.


Content

To give a brief idea of the breadth of this book, here are the chapter headings:

Introduction

Operations

Unit Chapters

Colors

Photogallery: Armored Jeep, M8 A/C, M20 Utility Car, M2/M3/M5/M9 Half Track, M3 & M5 Light Tank, M8 HMC, M4 Medium Tank, M7 HMC, M10 GMC, M31/M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle

Appendices

Color Plates


In detail

The title should be self-explanatory. Gillono's brief with this title was to present a concise coverage of the markings and color-schemes of the French 2nd Armored Division. However, like any good author, he sets the scene by giving a brief, but detailed overview of the Unit's formation in 1943, their Operational history (considerably MORE than participation in the Liberation of Paris!). The Division fought (amonst other Theaters) in Normandy, the Moselle River, the Liberation of Baccarat & Strasbourg, the 2nd Lorraine Campaign and into Germany.

A detailed ToE is included which is always a good source of inspiration and information for modelers.

Three pages cover color schemes, which bearing in mind that the universal (with few exceptions) scheme, was the standard U.S. scheme, may seem surprising. However, the main rationale behind this is to explain and clarify the more 'extravagant' markings which French vehicles carried along with many variations on the Allied Star. Although this part is text-heavy, the following section clarifies the complexity extremely well.

The Photogallery has 100 (contemporary) B W images. Presented in sections according to the vehicle type and prevelance of the subject (18 pages on the M4, 2 pages on the M31/M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle). Each page has typically three (fair-sized) images which have been well-reproduced and improved by modern Photo-Enhancement software. Although many of the images are familiar to me, once again, the value of these images does not necessarily lie in their originality, but in the extraordinarily detailed interpretation which the author has added in the captions. Notes on variations (such as added stowage boxes) identification of the Unit, location and, where possible, date, all add to the utility for the modeler. Shermanaholics will be delighted at the possibilities, those whose interest lies with vehicles such as the M5 Light Tank, no less so...

The 2 pages of Tactical Markings are, combined with the rest of the book, a valuable and vital addition (considering the complexity of the subject area) and add more depth.

The final section, the 20 color plates are done by Arkadiusz Wróbel and are some of the best I've ever seen. All are to 1/35th scale, which is a useful detail, as it's a lot easier to correctly estimate the size of markings. Once again, detailed captions are provided with each illustration.

A (slight) note of controversy...

While realizing that a book in an established format such as this has (inevitably) limitations, and again going onto one of my personal 'hobbyhorses' there is an element which I would have liked to have seen - reference to the 'Neuve'. In French, 9E Compagnie De Combat du RMT. This unit, with many Spanish Republican Volunteers, had the distinction of capturing the German Commander in Paris. Considering their pivotal róle in the Liberation (in the vanguard and the capture of the German Commander) it would have been nice to see some images of their H/Ts...


In conclusion

Apart from my personal comments above, there really is little to find fault with in this book. Written for the modeler, it's an impressively useful book. While knowing a fair amount of the operational history of the Division, I confess to having known only rudimentary details of the complexities of the French vehicle markings. Whilst the Division is well-documented in France, it remains a rather clouded subject in the rest of the world. This is a real pity as the potential for modeling the Division is massive. All the models and variants are available (in one form or another) and several of the After-Market decal manufacturers do appropriate sheets for the Division. Considering the impressive operational history it had in the ETO, it would be a real pity not to consider it as a project.

However, once again, useful as the 'Web undoubtedly is it rarely gets as useful, as detailed or as well-presented as THIS book.

VERY Highly Recommended.

SUMMARY
Highs: The subject area's potential for the modeler. Quality of the images (both contemporary and the commisioned color plates is as good as you get anywhere. The captioning is detailed,concise and frankly invaluable.
Lows: Not really a 'low' as such but a mention or at least an image or two of 'La Nueve's' vehicles would have been a wonderful addition!
Verdict: The 'Net has a long way to go to achieve the depth and utility of books such as this. Another superb book within an already superlative series.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: # 8
  Suggested Retail: 19 €
  Related Link: Item Webpage
  PUBLISHED: Jul 29, 2011
  NATIONALITY: France
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.06%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 91.11%

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)
FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAńA

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2018 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

A comment on this other thread got me to look at this review. French armor should get more consideration, not just the Char B1 bis, either. I am putting this on my wish list, thanks, Jim!
AUG 08, 2011 - 04:45 PM
I just tried to order this one and the 6th South African division book from the publisher's wesbite. I think I'm too computer challenged. That said, a good primer on the 2D.B. is well overdue I'm very much looking forward to this one .
AUG 08, 2011 - 06:59 PM
What's really cool is a book review (this book's review) is running second on the "most read" review list for the first time in I don't know when. It's catching up to #1 and might just go into the lead eventually!
AUG 19, 2011 - 12:22 PM
Well, unfortunately there seems to be a bug in the Page View program, so, it's somewhat higher (well, about 8 times higher) than it should be... Brilliant though the Review undoubtedly is it isn't THAT popular, more's the pity...
AUG 20, 2011 - 10:19 AM
Don't tell me that, LOL, my review is #1.
AUG 20, 2011 - 04:04 PM
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