In this DVD the archive film has been well selected and is accompanied by bonus archive films and photo galleries. The DVD documentary follows the story from the first tanks of WWI to the formation of new Panzer units with Type 1 and 2 tanks, through to the end of WWII.
NAME: German Fighting Tanks
CLASSIFICATION: Video, DVD, reviews
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Military, History Films
MEDIA: One DVD
FORMAT: Dual layer
RUNTIME: 55 minutes
PLAYERS: Personal Computer, Mac Computer, DVD Player
PRICE: GB £15.99
SUBJECT: Armour, Blitzkrieg, Lightning War, WWII, Russian Front, tank history, armoured design, armoured infantry, artillery, panzerwagon, Panzers, PKW
DESCRIPTION: Pen & Sword Military have published a series of video documentaries produced by the German History Films production company. This produces a common format for these documentaries with a commentary choice of English or German. A major component is war film from German archives. The production quality is very good and the German commentary is the authentic voice. The English commentary is a straight forward translation of the German and in parts can seem ponderous. For non-Germans, the commentary may appear to be rewriting history but it is a German perspective that reflects the attitudes at the time when the original war film was shot. In this DVD the archive film has been well selected and is accompanied by bonus archive films and photo galleries. The DVD documentary follows the story from the first tanks of WWI to the formation of new Panzer units with Type 1 and 2 tanks, through to the end of WWII. When Germany invaded Poland as part of an agreement with Russia to divide the territory between Germany and Russia, Germany still lacked effective armour. The Type 1 and Type 2 panzerwagon were really reconnaissance tanks, lightly armoured, equipped with rifle calibre machine guns and for the Type 2 with a light canon replacing one machine gun. They were unreliable and the German army was fortune that the Poles were mainly equipped with infantry and cavalry, the horsemen often bravely charging the small German tanks and suffering horribly against the machine guns. The most effective tanks in German service were Czech-built modern designs not unlike the Russia T34 in concept, if lighter armed, older and smaller than the Russian masterpiece. When Hitler turned his attention on France, and the neutral countries of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, the armoured opposition was still poor and the first Type 3 and Type 4 panzerwagon were coming into service although in small numbers and with only modest improvements in armour and guns. The British were still equipped mainly with Matilda infantry tanks, heavily armoured, slow and lightly armed, and Bren gun carriers that were light reconnaissance armour not unlike the German Type 1 in capability. The French did have large numbers of tanks and several models were equipped with the highly effective French 75mm cannon, but tank design was poor and deployment left much to be desired, small numbers of tanks often being used as mobile pill boxes. When Hitler gave up hope of conquering Britain and turned on Russia, he got an unhappy surprise when he found that the Russians were introducing some very effective tanks that out gunned, our armoured and outran the German Type 3 and 4 models that were then the backbone of armoured units. Germany rushed to build the panther and Tiger tanks that gave parity with Russian armour, although reliability continued to be a major weakness and in most battles the Russians not only fielded larger numbers of tanks but were prepared to risk them in bold strikes where heavy casualties were probable. Watching the war film, it feels as thought he production team missed an opportunity to produce a much more effective commentary to match the excellent film footage from the German archives, rather than indulging in a nationalistic rewriting of history. There is footage of Czech tanks in action in German service, but there is no reference to these outstanding machines. However, the DVD is well worth its cover price for the film footage and enthusiasts who dislike the commentary can always turn the sound down and miss little of value. The most curious aspect of the DVD is that although it presents a German nationalist view, it does not adequately cover the many original and militarily important German innovations in the design and deployment of armour and armoured infantry.