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Book Review
Kharkov 1942
Kharkov 1942 – The Wehrmacht strikes back
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

Originally published on:


This is a review of the Osprey Publishing LTD book Kharkov 1942 – The Wehrmacht strikes back by author Robert Forczyk and illustrator Howard Gerrard with series editor Marcus Cowper.


After failing to finish off the German Army in the 1941/42 Winter Counteroffensive, and aware that Hitler was planning a new summer offensive in mid-1942, Stalin directed the Red Army to conduct a powerful blow in one sector of the Eastern front in order to disrupt German plans. The sector chosen was Kharkov, and under Marshal Semyon Timoshenko the Stavka’s remaining reserves were assembled and prepared to conduct a breakthrough attack intended to encircle the German Sixth Army. However, the Germans were planning their own riposte at Kharkov, known as Operation Fridericus. The campaign developed into one of the Red Army’s greatest defeats of World War II, contributing to the Wehrmacht’s ability to push to the Volga River.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released Kharkov 1942 – The Wehrmacht strikes back as Number 254 in their Campaign series. It is a paperback book with 96 pages. Included with the text are black and white and color photographs, black and white and color illustrations, color maps, informational charts 3-D bird’s-eye-views, author’s notes and detailed captions. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-157-6. As the title states, the book examines and discusses the conflict between German and the Soviet Union at Kharkov in 1942 during World War II.


Origins of the Campaign
Opposing Commanders
  • German commanders
  • Soviet commanders

Opposing Forces
  • German
  • Soviet
  • Order of battle, 12 May 1942

Opposing Plans
  • Soviet
  • German

The Soviet Offensive, 12-16 May 1942
  • The northern group, 12-20 May 1942
  • The southern group, 12-16 May 1942

The German Counteroffensive, 17-23 May 1942
  • 17 May
  • 25 May
  • 26 may
  • 27 May
  • 28 may
  • 29 may

The Battlefield Today
Further reading


Robert Forczyk has done a wonderful job of detailing the events surrounding the fighting at Kharkov in 1942. The contents portion where I listed the contents of the book is accurate as to what is discussed. Forczyk is able to place the reader where the action is by detailing every minute detail leaving nothing to guess as to what took place by whom and when. Specific military units such as armored units, key individuals, commanders, and various dates and day by day actions are all listed providing a “nit-picky” style of writing that provides all of the details the reader would want and or need when studying this key event in the German/Soviet conflict. Robert Forczyk covers both sides of the conflict with equal detailing so that the reader is supplied with a non-biased narrative and informative history. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors throughout the book. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone interested in World War II history, military warfare and weaponry and the fighting at Kharkov itself will find this excellent book very informative and interesting and will leave the reader with no doubt as to what took place during this famous historical conflict.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.


There are a total of 62 black and white photographs and 1 color photograph shown throughout the book. The photographs range in subjects such as armor such as the Soviet BT-7 tank, artillery, troops and small arms, lend-lease vehicles from Britain and the United States, anti-tank weapons, camouflaged positions, German and Russian cavalry in action, half-tracks, anti-aircraft weapons such as a German 2cm Flak gun on a Sd.Kfz 10/4 half-track, German and Soviet prisoners of war (POWs), casualties and many other subjects of similar composition. Most of the photographs are nice, clear, centered and focused images and are of a good quality and will benefit the scale modeler and military enthusiast and historian. Many of the featured photographs are images that I have not seen before and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs. Robert Forczyk has stuck with photographs that I refer to as even specific meaning that they are of or in relation to the fighting at Kharkov and not just random World War II photographs that were used as filler. I appreciate the fact that a majority of the photographs were of the “in-action” variety which I feel helps place the reader in the action of the conflict itself.

Some of the photographs that I found interesting were:
  • Two German soldiers in a fighting position. One of them is manning a MG-34 machine gun and the other is improving on the position with a shovel.
  • A German PzKpfw IVF2 being camouflaged with brush.
  • A Russian railcar loaded with two British-built Matilda II tanks and their crews.
  • A Soviet 152mm M1937 (ML-20) howitzer and crew in action.
  • Soviet infantry advancing under the cover of two Russian T-34 tanks from the 5th Guards Tank Brigade.
  • A knocked out Russian KV-1 heavy tank showing 8.8cm penetrations on its turret and smaller caliber hits on the gun mantlet.
  • German artillery observers in a concealed tall grass position.
  • Romanian infantry in an improved fighting position manning a Czech-made ZB-53 7.92mm machine gun.
  • German infantry advancing under the cover of a German StuG III assault gun.
  • A color photograph of a German Sd.Kfz 250/3 radio half-track belonging to Armee-Gruppe von Kleist.
  • A Soviet 122mm M1931/37 (A-198) gun being towed by an American-built M3 Stuart light tank – (please refer to the attached scan).
  • A field littered with debris such as wagons, trucks and tractors from the Soviet 6th and 57th Armies.
  • Two abandoned Soviet BT-7 light tanks in a muddy field.
  • A German horse mounted unit passing a wreck of a Soviet I-16 fighter aircraft on the Kharkov battlefield.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself


There are 3 color illustrations and 3 accompanying black and white illustrations by illustrator Howard Gerrard. Each color illustration is accompanied by a black and white copy of the same illustration that describes the scene and points out and describes key areas of interest. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

Plate A
German Artillerie-Regiment 294 howitzers engage Soviet 36th Tank Brigade Matilda tanks in streets of Nepokrytaya, 1100hrs, 12 May 1942

German artillery with I.FH18 howitzers and Russian lend-lease Matilda II tanks fighting in close quarters combat.

Plate B
To the green steppes beyond, Noskov’s Cavalry, 14 May 1942

Russian cavalry troopers from the 137th Cavalry Regiment that have caught up with members of the German IR 375 that are retreating.

Plate C
The Road of Death, 26 May 1942

German Stukas and He-111H level bombers attack the remnants of Army Group Kostenko on the road between Krutoiarka and Fedorovka, Russia.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.


There are 6 color maps included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
  • Creation of the Barvenkovo salient, January-March 1942
  • Situation on the Kharkov axis, 11 May 1942
  • Operations in the northern sector, 13-20 May 1942
  • The attack of 6th Army and Army Group Bobkin, 12-18 May 1942
  • Kleist’s attack, 17-22 May 1942
  • The aftermath, June 1942

There are 3 ‘birds-eye-view’ 3-D color maps also included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
  • Attack Of The Soviet Northern Group, 12 May 1942
  • The Defense Of Krasnograd, 14-19 May 1942
  • The Destruction Of The Barvenkovo Kessel, 24-28 May 1942

There are 3 informational charts provided which provide information on:
  • Key to military symbols and unit identification
  • Order Of Battle, 12 May 1942
  • Listing of German troop and armor losses


The captions are very nicely written and contain a wealth of detail and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place. The captions go into very specific detail as to specific individuals, soldier’s military affiliation, dates and locations, weapon types, numbers of artillery and tanks used, specific military units and the results of the actions that are shown, and other such pertinent information. As I read through the captions I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. As I stated before, grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. The captions themselves are basically miniature history lessons as they detailed what is happening, or happened, in the photographs and give specific detail as to the who, what, when, why and where. I was pleased with Robert Forczyk’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.

There are 5 notes included in this volume:
  • Dedication
  • Author’s Note
  • Artist’s Note
  • The Woodland Trust
  • Glossary (military abbreviations)


This is a very nice reference book that contains many nice illustrations, photographs and well written and detailed text and captions. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library. An excellent well written and researched reference and history book of the German/Soviet clash at Kharkov in 1942 during the Second World War that will benefit the scale modeler as well as the military enthusiast and historian.

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.


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WWII Time-Life Books History of the Second World War
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The American Heritage Picture History of World War II
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The Wehrmacht strikes back at the Osprey Publishing web site Live links

Osprey Publishing also has Kharkov 1942 – The Wehrmacht strikes back available in the following formats:

ePub eBook
PDF ebook

The Wehrmacht strikes back at the Amazon web site Live links

Kindle Edition of Kharkov 1942 – The Wehrmacht strikes back Live links
Highs: Nicely written precise text with event specific photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to specify
Verdict: An excellent well written and researched reference and history book of the German/Soviet Kharkov clash in 1942 during WWII.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-78096-157-6
  Suggested Retail: UK £14.99 / US $21.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 03, 2013

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2020 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Armorama. All rights reserved.


I've been studying the Russian Front for decades and some of these photos are new to me. I didn't know the Russians had British Matildas in this campaign.
JUN 03, 2013 - 05:55 AM

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