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.
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.