The Gepard Self-Propelled Antiaircraft Gun in German Service
by: Darren Baker
The Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer 1 Gepard self-propelled antiaircraft gun is an autonomous, highly mobile, all-weather air defence weapon system. Fitted with two 35mm automatic cannons, a search radar and a tracking radar, the vehicle can engage fixed-wing and rotary-winged aircraft at short and very short ranges, including suddenly appearing targets. In service from 1976 to 2010, the vehicle was fielded by the German Army Air Defence Force in the following variants: Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer 1 Gepard (B2), Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer 1 A1 Gepard (B2L) and Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer 1 A2 Gepard. This publication describes the Gepardís development history, technology and extensively shows the vehicle in action.
The Gepard until recently was only represented in 1/35th scale by Tamiya when it comes to an affordable option, recently however both Meng and Takom have released options for the modeller to consider. The word Gepard is German for Cheetah and is a good name if you consider the rate of fire this vehicle has. This new offering from Tankograd Publishing provides us with a good back story to the Gepard, but perhaps more importantly to the modeller a great visual reference in order to get your model just so.
This offering from Tankograd Publishing is one of the duel language books that we are all familiar with, German text is on the left of the page and English text on the right. When I first looked at these duel language books I thought I would find it distracting, but that is not the case and it makes sense when you consider that Tankograd Publishing is a German company who at the same time want to make their content appealing to a wider number of people. The author of this offering from Tankograd Publishing is Carl Schulze and this title lives up to the standards I have come to expect from both Tankograd Publishing and this author. This title offers 64 pages with 136 colour and 10 black and white photographs. This is a soft backed book offering having a glossy card cover with the pages being of a good quality gloss paper.
This title begins with 9 pages of dedicated text covering not just the Gepard but also the back story that led to the Gepard coming into being. Due to the limited space available to dedicated text the information has been presented in a concise manner, but I have to say the text has been provided in a way that makes information easy to find and absorb. I myself found the back story of the Gepard very interesting and I didnít know that the Germans looked into and development started by BMARC in the UK before being cancelled. The result is an area of the book I urge modellers to read for an understanding of the model they are looking to build. The short section that follows provides photographs of prototypes that lead to the Gepard and having read the text this is a great spot to add this element of the title.
The reader is now presented with a good selection of photographs covering the B2 version of the Gepard both on base and in the field, these photographs offer the modeller a visual guide on how to display their model in a realistic setting if a diorama is in mind and at the same time provides some great angles for those looking for specific details. One thing that Tankograd Publishing excelís at is the captions that accompany each photograph, they are provided in both German and English while at the same time providing a very good level of detail on what you are looking at. It is in this section that I found something that really makes this title a great reference for the modeller in the form of line drawings in 1/35th scale. These drawings cover four pages and present the Gepard in five way drawings that cover the angles well.
The next section covers the Gepard B2L again both in base and the field. This section shows a Gepard making good use of foliage as camouflage, I am really impressed with the photograph and I am also impressed with the effort the crew have clearly gone to. Near the end of this section is a photograph showing the turret of a Gepard being removed which makes for an interesting presentation option. This section is followed by a detailed look at the B2L in the usual way that Tankograd Publishing approaches subjects. The close up images of specific areas and accompanied by in-depth duel language descriptions makes this section a real must for the modeller looking to get details just right on a model. The photographs cover the Gepard well with some nice images of interior, something I had not seen until this point is the area at the rear of the guns showing rounds in place and how they are fed by the cocking mechanism.
The Gepard 1A2 is the next presentation and this area of the book is not as in-depth as the previous offerings have been, that is not to say this area is poor just not as in depth. What I again really appreciate about this area is that Tankograd Publishing has again provided 1/35th scale line drawings for the vehicle. The photographs again show the Gepard in various locations with the images of the Gepard in winter camouflage being particularly appealing to me. This section is followed with a short area showing the Gepard in service with armies other than that of the Germans
This offering from Tankograd Publishing covers an appealing subject in the form of the Gepard and I was especially pleased to see the number of 1/35th scale line drawings covering the Gepard in the three covered versions. The text at the front of the book is especially well presented considering the amount of information provided and the limited number of pages available in this book. The photographs are of a high standard which is good considering the age of some of the colour offerings, I say that as I have found that colour photographs from the 1970ís are often grainy and fuzzy which is not the case here. I cannot come up with any low points to this title as it more than meets my expectations. After looking this title over I would not be surprised to see further releases from Tankograd Publishing covering further aspects of the Gepard.
Highs: The high point for me is the inclusion of a large number of scale line drawings.Lows: None that is obvious to me.Verdict: A very well presented and nice addition to the range of titles offered by Tankograd.