During World War Two the German armed forces displayed a bewildering variety of unit insignia on their vehicles. Over the course of the war most units went through numerous changes to their unit markings in an attempt to keep the
enemy guessing on unit identities and dispositions. Probably one of the most famous changes to unit markings came with the German attack in 1943 at Kursk, "Operation Zitadelle", where participating
units were assigned new unit insignia based on a variety of geometric shapes .
Unit insignia ranged from simple geometric shapes to more elaborate designs. To add to the confusion many units used designs that were
very similar in appearance to that used by other units. And quite often units would modify their insignia such as removing or adding borders, adding oak leave wreaths or crossed swords
when the unit leader was awarded these to his Knight's Cross, or by placing the unit insignia inside or merged it with a sub-unit's tactical markings.
So many units used minor variations on circles, squares, bears, sun wheels, swords, horses, dogs, four leaf clovers and so on, that identifying a vehicle with a unit is near on
impossible without some form of context as to when and where the photograph was taken, and even then, poor quality of many period photographs make the task even more difficult.
This volume is a softcover (8.25" x 11.75" / 20.9cm x 30cm), with 80 glossy pages, 26 of which contain colour vehicle profiles and unit insignia and 32 pages with photographs.
All of the units covered have text
describing its history and area of operations.
More famous units, such as the 1. SS-Panzer-Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" have expansive
entries, while the lesser know units, such as the Flak regiments get only a paragraph or two. One unit, Eisenbahn-Transportschutz-Flak, is missing its write up entirely. Each unit also has
one or more annotations identifying it's associated insignia located at the back of the book. Annoyingly these are done as a separate entries and not placed with the with the unit history.
Black and white photographs are used to illustrate the unit insignia and their placement on vehicles, but only to a limited extent. Like the text, the more famous units
have reasonable photographic coverage, while almost all of the lesser know units get none. Most of the photographs are grainy as a result of being
enlarged too much, and on a couple of the Flak units the photographs used for illustration are so indistinct as to be useless. They are also quite large and in my opinion, the
photographs take up too much space in the book. Some judicious cropping and less enlarging would have allowed for a few more supporting photographs of the other units
to be included.
I found the colour art work for the vehicles, all of which are beautifully rendered, a bit puzzling. Usually these are added to a book to pesent information on camouflage and placement
of markings, which for the most part these do, but a few do not. For example there is a Sd.Kfz.7/2 of LSSAH that has no markings at all, and there is a Tiger I Ausf.E of 8/s.SS-Pz.Rgt.2 commanded by
SS-Ostuf. Reininghaus that has a striking Mickey Mouse motif on the front glacis, but the Mickey Mouse does not appear in the insignia art work nor on the decal sheet. The same applies to
the art work of the Stug III Ausf.B of Michael Wittmann which has a dog's head symbol, which is not in the insignia section nor on the decal sheet.
Below is a list of the units covered:
- 1. Panzer-Division
- 2. Panzer-Division
- 1. SS-Panzer-Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"
- 2. SS-Panzer-Division "Das Reich"
- 1. Infanterie-Division
- 2. Infanterie-Division/2. Infanterie-Division (mot.)
- 3. Infanterie-Division/3. Infanterie-Division (mot.)
- 4. Infanterie-Division
- 5. Infanterie-Division/5. leichte Infanterie-Division/5. Jäger-Division
- 6. Infanterie-Division/6. Volks-Grenadier-Division
- 7. Infanterie-Division
- 8. Infanterie-Division /8. Jäger-Division
- 9. Infanterie-Division/9. Volks-Grenadier-Division
- 10. Infanterie-Division (mot.)
- 11. Infanterie-Division
- 12. Infanterie-Division/12. Grenadier-Division/12. Volks-Grenadier-Division
- Fliegerabwehr-Btl.(mot.) 614
- Fliegerabwehr-Btl.(mot.) 616
- Flak-Division 6
- Flak-Division 9
- Flak-Division 10
- Flak-Division 13
- Flak-Division 18
- Flak-Division 19
- Flak-Division 20
- V. Flakkorps
- gemischte Flak-Abt.295(v)
- gemischte Flak-Abt.614(o)
- leichte Flak-Abt.71
- leichte Flak-Abt.73
- leichte Flak-Abt.75
- leichte Flak-Abt.76
- leichte Flak-Abt.81
- leichte Flak-Abt.99
With the book come three sheets of waterslide decals, two measuring 7"x10" (180mm x 260mm) and one measuring 5"x7" (130mm x 179mm), both of which are smaller than advertised on the book's
The images on the sheets come in four distinct size ranges. My guess is that they are ostensibly for 1/35, 1/48, 1/72(1/76) & 1/144 scales. As far as I can tell, every unit
in the book has at least two decal images for each insignia presented in the book, in each of the four sizes making all but the largest images of some use
in 1/72 scale. All the modeller need do is choose the appropriate sized decal for the intended vehicle. Unfortunately the images do not have numbers associating them back to the book
so the modeller is forced to refer back to the color pages as to which image is for which unit. Also, further reference sources will be needed for the actual location of the decals on a vehicle.
As with the text, the more famous units have a lot of decals. Using 1. SS-Panzer-Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" again as an example, there are 13 different variants of this unit's
very famous key insignia, along with the lesser used LSH monogram and the unit markings for the Kursk battle. On the other hand, many of the less famous units usually have but one variant of
The printing is spot on for register. Each image is printed separately on very thin carrier film. Opacity looks to be good but this can only be verified with use.
I find this set to be a mixed bag. The more famous units contained herein have been well covered and their insignia are well known and documented, so this set doesn't really expand on
anything here. What is nice to see is the coverage of the lesser known Flak units. There are quite a few of these presented that I have not seen before.
Undoubtedly the best part has to be the decals. The sheets are very useful, offering an assortment of different sizes, and covering numerous Flak units which are not as well served by
other decal offerings. But what this set needs is additional details on the placement of the insignia and what vehicles they were applied to.
 Wehrmacht Divisional Signs 1938-1945, Theodor Harmann, Almark Publishing, London 1970 ISBN: 0-85524-007-5
 Panzertruppen: German armored troups 1939-1945, François de Lannoy & Josef Charita, Editionas Heimdal, Bayeux 2001 ISBN: 2-84048-151-0
 Pleins Phares
Review sample purchased by the author.