Sometimes as modellers we can become jaded. Many times we are looking for the color scheme or combination to do something just that bit different. This book arrived a day or two ago and (for me at least) it is a breath of fresh air. A subject I had never considered and a subject I knew even less about...
The Formation Of 'Brunete'
Quiron Ediciones is a small Spanish publishing house who specialize in monographs covering recent spanish military history. Their last book covered Spain's military contribution to O.I.F.. Previous titles in the series include an exhaustive study of the vehicles used in the Spanish Civil War.
Perhaps most surprising fact for many modellers, is the sheer mixture of equipment and vehicles used by the Spanish armed forces. The story begins, with the use of the Renault Ft-17 in 1925, the combat deployment of the PZI, the T26 and the Italian Fiat-Ansaldo CV.3/35 in the Spanish Civil War (amongst others), the arrival of the PZIV (ausf.H) and the Stug III (ausf.G) in 1943. The 1950s saw the arrival of huge quantities of U.S. vehicles, Dodge 'Beeps' , HVSS Shermans, M24s, M47s, M48s etc.etc. bringing us up to the present-day with Leapord IIs and AMX 30s. The possibilities are enormous. Where else could one legitimately do a Stug III in Olive Drab or a Dodge Weapons Carrier towing a PAK 40?
Under the series title, 'Cuadernos de Revista Española de Historia Militar" (Notebooks Of the Spanish Military History Magazine), number 5 in this series covers in some detail, the Spanish Armored Division "Brunete". This is the first part of a series (probably 2 volumes) dealing with the history, organization and equipment of this formation.
The operational history of Brunete began in 1943 with the modernisation of what were obsolete armored divisions. The first modern equipment came as a result of a trade agreement between the Spanish and German governments. In exchange for 'preferential status', Spain exported large quantities of strategic raw-materials, not least amongst them was the always required tungsten. The Nazi-regime gave Spain a large quantity of weaponry and vehicles. Flak 38s, PAK 40s, PZIVs and Stugs all found their way into the Spanish inventory.
José Maria Manrique García and Lucas Molina Franco, the authors of this book, in 80 superbly illustrated pages deal with an incredibly complex subject. Beginning with a short overview of Spanish armored warfare philosophy. The first chapter deals with the origins of 'Brunete'. The division is named for the largest (and bloodiest) of the armored battles of the Spanish Civil War, which took place on the 1st of november 1936. The second chapter deals with the new organization of the armored divisions in 1943. Chapter 3 is concerned with the evolution of the divisions and significantly the arrival of modern (U.S.) materiél in the 1950s. The penultimate chapter concerns itself with the 1970s, again a period of continual modernization and re-equipping. Chapter five, the last in the current volume, has several pages of color photographs of the unit patches and insignia from the beginnings to the present day.
An Invaluable Resource?
If the summary of the book's chapters sounds like nothing more than an academic study of the evolution of a modern armored division, nothing however could be further from the truth. This book was produced with the needs of modellers in mind. The illustrations, and at this point, the two illustrators, Julio López Caeiro and Luis Fresno Crespo, deserve a (notable) mention. All the principal vehicles are presented in profile, in full color. The quality of the period photographs is also superb. Many have obviously been digitalized, resulting in a quality and crispness which is rarely equalled (Osprey please take note!) The color photographs are also of a high standard.
Where does one start by evaluating the value of this book to the armor modeller? As I stated in my introduction, the idea of doing some fairly 'hackneyed' subjects such as the PZIV in OD or simply the idea of doing a diorama with an M74 (HVSS Sherman Recovery Vehicle) lifting a PZI, is sufficient to give ideas to the most experienced modeller (YES, there IS such a photograph). The SPG "Specialist" is not forgotten either, the book contains some superb material on the M-107, M-110 and the M-44. Neither is their a dearth of refence material for the truck modeller either. White trucks with T-26s as their cargo or a Willys Jeep towing a Pak 35/36 all suggest new subjects.....
As I am the first to admit, I know little about the vehicles used by the Spanish Armed Forces. La Brunete, 60 Años de Historia (60 years of History) Is for me at least, an absolute gold-mine of information and ideas. In 80 pages, this first part, deserves a wider audience. The problem is unfortunately that at present, the book is only published in spanish. Hopefully the publishers will produce a bi-lingual edition, sooner rather than later. Virtually ever armored modeller will find something in its pages to get the creative flow going... The ideas in this book are something else again!
So how does it compare with Osprey and Concord? Both of these large publishing houses are certainly producing interesting material for the military modeller. Concord in fact has a volume out on this very subject, however the quality, presentation and price of this book put the 'big-boys' somewhat in the shade. Quiron Ediciones, have a refreshing ability to produce new subjects and with this thought in mind, companies like this should be given our total support in what is, a very competitive sector of the modelling industry. If you have to buy a Spanish-English dictionary to accompany the book do it, but investing a mere 12€ in a book of this quality is a bargain. Or as we would say here, "Una ganga"....
Unfortunately, I know of no european/U.S. distibutors for this book, nor unfortunately do Quiron have a website. However, they can be contacted at: [email protected]