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Book Review
Panzerattrappen - German Dummy Tanks - History and Variants 1916-1945
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Originally published on:


The Imperial German Army first used AFV mock-ups for what was essentially obvious - to train and familiarize Infantry with a completely new weapons system. This process began during WWI and included a variety of simulated vehicles - the British Mk. I - Vs and the German A7Vs.

With the end of WWI, and the imposition of severe limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty, the German Reichswehr had to find substitutes for AFVs for both training and (which was to be later shown) as a means of developing the new tactics involving combined arms: what was later to be coined as 'Blitzkrieg'.

These 'impromptu' AFVs do, to modern eyes look quaint and comical, however, what became their real purpose - much less so.

The book

Panzerattrappen - German Dummy Tanks - History and Variants 1916-1945 is written by Jochen Vollert and published by the German Publishing House, Tankograd Publishing. The book is published within the company's 'Wermacht Special Series'. This new publication consists of 64 pages and contains 136 black&white photographs. The book is bi-lingual (English German) with ALL the photo captions in both languages in a FULL translation.

The book - in detail

At the outset, and this in NO way reflects on the quality of the book whatsoever, it has to be said that this is a book primarily for those interested in the history of Armored Warfare, rather than a book which has got 'obvious' modeling applications. Saying that, many whose interest is the obscure and those with a passionate interest in scratchbuilding will find it inspiring.

The book begins with the usual introduction. This serves to put the book in context with a clear explanation of what the purpose of the Panzerattrappen vehicles actually were. Perhaps in my introduction I was a little simplistic, the purpose behind these vehicles went well beyond simple 'replacement' AFVs for training. According to the author, several different functions were served:

A few of these functions were:

Training - both simulating their own vehicles and Enemy vehicles.

Targets - for live-firing exercises

Decoys - to confuse the enemy about actual force strength. This function has been seen in recent conflicts such as Iraq or the Balkans.

Recognition - using scale models to familiarize troops on enemy vehicle types.

The book covers three significant periods of German Military History - The Imperial German Army, The Reichswehr (Post WWI & pre-Third Reich) and the Wehrmacht of the 3rd Reich. The book follows clearly the three 'stages'. The first covering the period 1916-18 introduces the use of Dummy tanks with a variety of photos showing just how crude and how sophisticated (in equal measure) these mock-ups could be.

The following section, covering the years prior to the formation of the Wehrmacht, 1925-34, shows many of the (very) impromptu training vehicles based on civilian car chassis' used during the transitional period of the Reichswehr.

The third section of the book takes us into (apparently) more familiar territory - the Wermacht. Chronologically, the author begins at the start, but already, familiar vehicles are getting used such as Opel saloons. The mock-ups themselves begin to look more like the vehicles which will be seen a few years later in the Spanish Civil War and in WWII. The tactical doctrine is also getting honed. Many of these vehicles were used in the first trials for the Blitzkrieg - even before the first tanks began coming off the production lines. Looking through the images one can also begin to see the first glimpse of who the intended enemy will be - Red Stars begin to appear on some of the mock-ups.
As the book progresses, so does the sophistication of the vehicles. Clearly identifiable types (rather than 'generics' begin to appear - copies of the KV, the T-34 or even the Churchill can be seen

The Photos:
I've long-admired the originality of Tankograd. They use (whenever possible) unpublished images. In this book, although I'm no kind of expert on the Panzerattrappen, I don't remember seeing a single image anywhere else. The photo-coverage of this relatively undocumented area is absolutely stunning. A good example (in the section on the Reichswehr) is a series of photos, over several pages showing the construction of one of the more common types. Quality is equally high, considering the fact that many of these images are 80 years old, the reproduction-quality is superlative.

Final Thoughts

As I said earlier on in this Review, primarily, this should be seen as one for the vehicle historians or, in modeling, the scratchbuilders. It's a very detailed look at an area most people are unaware ever existed. Quality of this publication is extraordinary and the price in no way reflects the quality with its pages. It's extraordinary value. For modelers, some of the subjects are extremely interesting propositions - anyone for a 1/35th scale plywood Churchill?

VERY Highly Recommended
Highs: A fascinating insight into an area which has not been particulary well-documented.
Lows: Perhaps the 'practicality' of this book may put many modelers off?
Verdict: Utterly fascinating and superbly executed.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Nr. 4013
  Suggested Retail: 14.95 Euro
  Related Link: Item on Publisher's Website
  PUBLISHED: Mar 27, 2009

Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing!
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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

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 ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Looks like an interesting book. Should be able to find some ideas on how to use those over/under scale kits from the 70/80s. No names mentioned... I can see a mock up T-34 built on a half track like on the cover. Or you could build something out of Evergreen plastic sheets or go totally scratch build and use scale lumber. I still have some left over from my go at model railroading. Now how to convert HO scale (1/87) 2" X 4 " to 1/35 metric??? Jim
MAR 26, 2009 - 02:07 PM
Definitely one of the lesser-known areas of the panzer troops and history. Thanks for the review Jim, will have to consider picking this one up.
MAR 27, 2009 - 05:34 AM

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