Osprey Elite No 11:
Ardennes 1944 Peiper & Skorzeny
reviewed by Neville Lord
The Battle of the Bulge was the last major German offensive in WWII, also known as the (second) Ardennes Offensive, it was fought in the snow of Christmas 1944. The attack had the ambitious plan of splitting the Anglo-American forces and recapturing Antwerp. Pivotal roles were assigned to Otto Skorzeny, famous for leading earlier commando style missions and also Joachim Piper a young but seasoned officer of the elite Panzer Division Leibstandarte.
Skorzerny was intended to lead a unit of English speaking troops, who equipped with American uniforms and vehicles, would create confusion among the retreating Americans and seize key Meuse bridges. He was given just 5 weeks to prepare his men. Peipers battle group, equipped with about 90 tanks, was to spear head a rapid armored breakthrough. In practice both units experienced major difficulties even prior to the start of the battle and are largely remembered for the controversy surrounding their operations.
Ardennes 1944: Peiper & Skorzeny relates the history of these Panzerbrigade 150 (Skorzery) and Kampfgruppe Peiper. The text covers the formation of the units, their battle order, a day by day recount of Peiper's progress, the Malmedy Massacre and the eventual fate of both units. As suggested by the title the content focuses on these German units and does not address other aspects of the battle (which are covered in other books).
The book is presented in the usual Osprey Elite format of 64 pages of which 12 are colour plates with monochrome photos spread though out the main text. Both the photos and artwork have a mix of vehicles and soldiers. The color plates by David Parker (AFVs) and Ron Volstadt (soldiers) are of a high standard. The background details for Volstadts illustrations, would be useful for several of Dragons figure sets.
The photos, though many will be familiar to some readers, are chosen to match the text and tie in with the colour plates. The photos include several of the Ersatz Panthers that were made to look like US M10 tank destroyers, Tiger IIs and a series of photos of Panzers and grenadiers in action.
Ardennes 1944: Peiper & Skorzeny has been popular with both modellers and readers of history for several years since being published. The combination of good illustrations and an intrinsically interesting story of military deception, elite units and tragedy makes for enjoyable reading. Definitely recommended.
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