Editions du Barbotin

Trackstory #2: Panhard 178 Armored Car


Reviewed By Jim Pearsall, #2209

Soft Cover, 50 pages. French/English text

MSRP: Euros 14.50

The Machine:

The Panhard 178 failed to meet its 1931 design specifications.  It was too heavy, too big, too slow and couldn’t turn tight enough.  But the French went ahead and ordered it anyway.  What they got was a durable and useful scout vehicle which was superior enough to its Wehrmacht counterparts that it was immediately pressed into service by the Germans.  The Panhard was involved in the early Barbarossa campaigns, and was the French vehicle which got closest to Moscow in 1941.

The Book:

Here’s a look at what has been a little-known AFV (if 8mm is considered “armored”).  The historical text is well documented with contemporary photos, and there are interior views, engine compartment views and detail shots for those who will want to improve the model. 

The English is understandable, although word choice sometimes indicates a non-English source. 

The research and presentation on the French vehicles is quite complete and meticulous.  The Wehrmacht partion is only a few pages, and appears to be beyond the scope of the original project.  But where else will you find this info?

I liked the way the May-June 1940 combat history was done.  Rather than the usual dry “Unit A engaged Unit Z and Unit B held in reserve until Unit Y appeared”, they have an eye-witness account of the first engagement between Panhard 178s and SdKfz231s in Holland.  It’s brief, (the action lasted only 20 minutes) but who would expect to find a veteran of that fight 64 years later?

There is also a chapter on unit organization and markings for pre WW2.  The text covers post-Dunkirk and Vichy, but these units were cobbled together, and markings were either from previous units or not carried.

Then there’s the Panzerspahwägen P204(f).  A Panhard 178 with new radios and a Balkendreuz instead of a cocarde.  P204s served with SS “Totenkopf” and “Das Reich” and the recon arms of 7th and 20th Panzer Divisions.  They were also used for railroad security, either mounted on a flat car, or later as “draisines”, with railroad wheels.

There are 8 pages of color profiles of operational Panhards.  I especially like that each drawing is backed with a photo of the vehicle depicted. 

Also a foldout with 1/35 and 1/72 scale drawings of the model 1 and model 2 is included, for those who want accuracy in shape and outline in their models.

The Models:

  • Sorry, “real” armor modelers, I couldn’t find a kit for the Panhard in 1/35. 

  • Gaso.Line has 1/48 resin kits of the Panhard 178 and the P 204(f) Draisine.

  • Alby has resin 1/72 Panhard 178 (radio version) and Draisine

  • Extra Tech has a 1/72 resin Panhard 178

  • Art Master has a 1/87 resin Panhard 178

  • RPM has recently released 3 1/72 kits, the Panhard, 178a, Panhard 178wz, and Panhard 178b

  • ARMO makes turned metal barrels for the RPM kits

The Bottom Line:

Definitely recommended.  If you’re interested in the 1940 campaign, or scout/cavalry vehicles, this is the “one stop” source on the Panhard 178.  There may or may not be enough material on the German P204(f) use somewhere for another book (hint).  But probably not from this publisher, at least for a long time.  (Editions du Barbotin, 1, rue Amiral Courbet, 33490 Saint Macaire, France)

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