From an acknowledged historian of armour and its employment, a detailed account of Hitler’s Panzers. This is a comprehensive history of the German Panzers with good photo-plate sections in illustration. – Very Highly Recommended.
NAME: Hitler's Panzers, The Complete History 1933-1945 FILE: R3178 AUTHOR: Anthony Tucker-Jones PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Nazi State, WWII, World War II, World War 2, World War Two, Second World War, armour, Blitz Krieg, all-arms war, mechanized warfare, technology, tactics, Wehrmacht, German Army ISBN: 1-52674-158-X PAGES: 229 IMAGE: B3178.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y7b64n67 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: From an acknowledged historian of armour and its employment, a detailed account of Hitler's Panzers. This is a comprehensive history of the German Panzers with good photo-plate sections in illustration. – Very Highly Recommended.
The history of armoured warfare is filled with myth and legend, making this book a welcome sanity. The modern tank was a British solution to the very heavy cost of trench warfare. In its first deployment in strength at Cambrai, the tank demonstrated its potential and highlighted what needed to change to make it the battle-winning weapon that it was. The Germans tried making use of captured British tanks and built their own less effective version, but in very small numbers. Where the British approach was based on naval principles, it naturally resulted in a mobile blockhouse with cannon and machine guns to enable following infantry to board the German defences and take them. The French built their tanks more as armoured cavalry for reconnaissance and roving attack. The result was that British tanks lumbered along as infantry tanks, with their armament most suitable for firing to both sides along the trenches that they were breaching but the French approach produced a vehicle that turret mounted a main weapon capable of traversing up to 360 degrees.
After WWI, pioneering British and French officers of relatively junior rank produced a concept that became known as Blitz Krieg because it was effectively employed first by the Germans in Spain and then in WWII.
The author has provided a balanced and realistic view of the history of the German Panzers. He has pointed out that they did not materialize uniquely, to leap fully formed from the womb, but were a long and not always successful progress of development. The Pkw I and Pkw II that were the core of the Panzers in 1939 were training and reconnaissance tanks, although the Czech 38t could be considered an early Main Battle Tank with a combination of good armour, effective anti-tank gun, and good mobility, proving a vital part of the German Panzer force at the beginning of WWII and continuing on in new versions on the 38t chassis to the end of the war.
The Pkw III was potentially a good tank but late for the start of WWII, although this was because Hitler was planning on starting WWII after 1944, and not a true equal of the best British and French tanks of that period. The Pkw IV was a different story and served through the war from its introduction to the end of the war. In many respects it could be considered the best practical design in the German Panzer force because although it was outclassed by Russian, British and American tanks, it was generally reliable and effective when used by experienced crews under close air support.
Where the German Panzers achieved their formidable reputation was in the tactics and support of other German assets. Their infantry support was mounted on large half-tracks, themselves progressively up-armoured, and mobile artillery, including anti-aircraft guns on tank chassis, that was able to keep up with the tanks and armoured cars. That made it possible to punch through enemy lines, bypass concentrations of enemy troops, and rely on the following mechanized forces to ‘mop-up’ those concentrations. Where the enemy used threatening tanks, the Germans had effective anti-tank guns supporting their own tanks. What gave them a further edge was that the Luftwaffe was really an army co-operation force. As long as the Luftwaffe could maintain air superiority its dive bombers and medium bombers could provide the most effective close support for the Panzers and also attack key points behind the enemy lines to disrupt reinforcements and logistics. This air-support had trained to fulfil the role and worked closely with the advancing Panzers.
The Germans introduced a new type of tank as an expediency. It was realized that obsolescent armour could be modified to carry much heavier guns and armour by simply deleting the turret and mounting a heavier gun with limited traverse and elevation in the frontal armour. That reduced the height of the tank and the weight saved, by deleting the turret, allowed the more heavily armoured modification to keep pretty much to the original ground pressure on the same tracks and running gear. This provided the tank killers and assault guns, that compensated for the lack of adequate numbers of more advanced tanks, and saved increasingly scarce war materials and production capacity.
Beyond the Pkw IV, the Germans produced some technically advanced tanks. The Pkw V Panther and the Tiger I and Tiger II tanks were major technical advances, but produced in inadequate numbers and rushed into service before some of the defects had been ironed out. They suffered from low reliability and logistic issues that were never eliminated. The heavy vehicles were often too heavy for some of the bridges and carriers that were in use and their weight required bigger engines that drank fuel at an alarming rate.
There were also heavy tank designs that never made viable vehicles and the Germans were losing the race to manufacturing ability, being out classed by America and even Britain, before being overtaken by the Soviets with their new factories beyond the range of the Luftwaffe bombers.