So now that I have Wargames Illustrated 319 in my hot little hands, and I can get a good look at the “Bridge at Remagen” article as printed, and I can talk a little more about what it says. First, yes, that’s my name next to Mike Haught’s name as a co-author of the article. Second, no, I can’t tell you anything more about the book than what is in the article other than to say I had a large role in writing the German half of the book. Once the book itself is out I’ll go into more detail, but for now I can give you guys a some thoughts on what I’m looking forward to and some information on the history.
While I didn’t work directly on the American half of the book, the forces covered honestly look like a lot of fun. Sure, there’s the addition of all the new toys the Americans received toward the end of the war – like the Pershing – but I’m enough of a fan of “expedient” weapons to really be looking forward to the B36B1 tank destroyer. Back in the early 90’s I was building a lot of tank kits, but 1/35th scale armor was still hitting its stride. You couldn’t even get a decent Panzer III or Stug III kit without spending a lot of money for a Gunze Sanyo kit. However Testors through a partnership with Italeri actually produced a kit of the M36B1 and I fell in love with the clunky beast at that point.
On the German side, the book is mostly focused on Schwere Kampfgruppe Hudel, but it also includes SS-Panzer Brigade “Westfalen” as well. Hudel gives you access to the three heavy battalions which made up that unit. The 512. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung provides the ability to field CV and RT Jagdtiger. For a unit with such a short duration in the field, the 512th has a very fascinating history. For anyone interested in fielding Jagdtiger units, I strongly recommend Devey’s Jagtiger: Operational History and Meadows’ Jagdtiger: Design, Production and Operations. Both provide good overviews of the vehicle and its deployment.
You can field the Normandy version of 654. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung in Atkantik Wall, but the unit continued to fight through the end of the war. The unit was virtually destroyed and reconstituted on multiple occasions. The best history for this unit is Munch’s Combat History of the 654th SchwerePanzerjager Abteilung. This is not a cheap book, but it is an amazing book. In my opinion, only Munch’s history of 653. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung exceeds it for a comprehensive unit history.
Unlike many of the other heavy tank battalions, 506. Schwere Panzer Abteilung doesn’t have a readily available unit history in English at this point. You can, however, glean a lot of its history from broader references like Schneider’s Tigers in Combat and Trojca’s Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. B "Königstiger:" Technical andOperational History and his Tiger Tank: Technical / Operational History, Vol 2: 1944-45.
Though you’d infer that it is a panzer unit from its name, SS-Panzerbrigade “Westfalen” was primarily an infantry force, though it did have a small group of training tanks as part of the unit. The unit put up surprisingly fanatical resistance in the area around Paderborn and delayed the closure of the Ruhr pocket by American forces. Wilhelm Tieke’s history of the unit, SS-Panzer-Brigade"Westfalen", Activation-Operations-Destruction is probably the best single reference on the unit currently available in English.
Obviously I’m really looking forward to this book. In terms of overall participation this is the biggest thing I've done for Battlefront, and I had a really great time working with Mike Haught to bring the book together. I hope everyone enjoys playing the forces as much as I enjoyed researching and organizing them!