Images of War, German Assault Guns and Tank Destroyers 1940-1945, Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives

b2395.jpg

Part of the famous 'Images of War' series this new book 
provides a great range of images, many of which have not 
been available for public viewing before. However, there 
is also some well-written text, in addition to the 
captions and extended captions, providing a great deal 
of information. Strongly Recommended.

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NAME: Images of War, German Assault Guns and Tank 
Destroyers 1940-1945, Rare Photographs from Wartime 
Archives
FILE: R2395
AUTHOR:  Anthony Tucker-Jones
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back 
PAGES:  128
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, 
German Army, Panzers, Assault Guns, Tank 
Destroyers, AFV, conversions, up-gunning
ISBN: 1-47384-599-8
IMAGE: B2395.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/gsqqbuz
LINKS:  Current Discount Offers 
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale
DESCRIPTION: Part of the famous 'Images of War' series 
this new book provides a great range of images, many of which 
have not been available for public viewing before. However, 
there is also some well-written text, in addition to the captions 
and extended captions, providing a great deal of information. 
Strongly Recommended.

WWII saw an innovative, though not always successful development 
of armoured fighting vehicles. The challenge facing every tank 
designer was how to fit an adequate gun into a tank that was also 
fast and manoeuvrable, but adequately armoured. There was a 
continuing battle to counter thickening armour with guns that 
could penetrate it. What made this particularly difficult was 
that heaver and more heavily armed tanks had to be larger and 
their track systems had to spread the extra weight. At the same 
time, the bigger tanks still had to be small enough to be carried 
to the front by train and recovered from the battlefield by 
recovery vehicles.

In reaching a compromise, designers could not easily overcome 
the physical issues when up-gunning a design. A larger and more 
powerful gun required a turret increase and substantial trunnions. 
The first attempt to address this was to use under-cut turrets to 
provide width for the trunions without increasing the diameter of 
the turret ring. The weakness of this was that enemy shells could 
be trapped in the under-cut and detonate instead of being deflected 
by strong and well-sloped armour.

The partial answer was to take an existing tank chassis, remove 
the turret, and replace it with a a new fixed superstructure that 
allowed limited elevation and traverse for the larger gun. This 
allowed almost the entire width of the hull to accommodate very 
much more powerful guns than could be mounted in the original turret.

The Skoda 38t was a classic example of the development process. 
When the Germans occupied all of Czechoslovakia, they acquired the 
famous Skoda works and acquired a tank which was significantly in 
advance against the German Pkw I and Pkw II light tank designs 
which were their best tanks. The Skoda design enjoyed a very 
effective chassis and power train, with far stronger armour than 
the German tanks, and it also included a well-designed turret with 
an effective canon, where the German designs only had rifle calibre 
machine guns and heavy machine guns. The Christie suspension meant 
that this well-balanced design was also very fast over a range of 
terrain. As a result, the Skoda 38t was the favoured tank for the 
invasion of Poland and Panzer units competed to obtain this AFV to 
replace their German-designed alternatives.

As the invasion of Poland got underway, the Pkw III started to come 
into service. This was a huge improvement over the Pkw I & II 
designs and a much heavier tank. It was more reliable that the 
first German designs, but the Skoda still had advantages in speed 
and across rough terrain. What could not be done was to add a 
significantly larger gun to the Skoda. When the Pkw IV began to 
reach operational units, it was a good improvement on the Pkw III 
and continued to provide a design that was equal to the best enemy 
tanks, until the Russian T-34 appeared. To counter this new enemy 
tank, the Germans needed to complete development and service 
introduction of the Panther and Tiger tanks but Allied bombing, 
shortages of materials, and a too diffuse development program meant 
that the Panzers would soon be very vulnerable.

The answer to retrieving the situation was to take older chassis 
and convert them into what became the classic tank destroyer format.

The Skoda 38t was a good example of the process. The first step was 
the Marder design alteration which greatly increased firepower, 
increased armour protection, preserved much of the cross-country 
performance, but lacked adequate crew protection from direct and 
indirect fire. Even thicker armour had been required to counter 
current enemy anti-tank guns, but the modified design was already 
becoming under-powered and more prone to reliability issues. The 
silhouette was also rather higher than the crews would have liked.

The Hertzer version of the Skoda 38t was to address the issues of 
the Marder design and produced an assault gun and tank killer that 
was to serve on to the end of WWII and remain an effective vehicle 
with thick, well-slopped frontal armour, full overhead protection, 
effective anti-tank gun, and good cross country performance.

A similar development approach was taken with German designs and 
even the feared Tiger was produced in assault and tank killer 
versions.

The text and images capture this evolution in AFV design very well.