Images of War, German Half-Tracks at War 1939-1945, Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives

This book is a welcome reprint of a volume in the very popular Images of War series. The publishers have not only established a fine series of photo histories using rare archive photographs, but they have maintained the books in print – Highly Recommended.


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NAME: Images of War, German Half-Tracks at War 1939-1945, Rare 
Photographs From Wartime Archives
FILE: R2580
AUTHOR: Paul Thomas
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES:  124
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, World War 2, Second World War, The 
Great Patriotic War, East Front, Eastern Front, West Front, blitz 
kreig. Armour, gun tractors, personnel carriers, assault guns, 
anti-aircraft artillery

ISBN: 1-84884-482-4

IMAGE: B2580.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ybqyy64u
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: This book is a welcome reprint of a volume in the very 
popular Images of War series.  The publishers have not only 
established a fine series of photo histories using rare archive 
photographs, but they have maintained the books in print – Highly 
Recommended.

This book follows the well proven format that the series has 
established. Text is largely confined to captions and extended 
captions, but it is concise and adds to the photographic content 
which is excellent.

Half tracks were the first military tracked vehicles. The first 
British tanks of WWII could be considered as half tracks because 
they employed a pair of wheels at the rear for steering. Before the 
first tanks arrived, half tracked vehicles were already in use, 
mostly unarmoured vehicles, as artillery tractors. Even though 
fully-tracked vehicles increased in numbers and extended their roles, 
with multi-wheel drive armoured cars augmenting them, half-tracks 
continued in service. The German army was a particularly heavy user 
of half-tracks and used them across the spectrum of armed roles.

When the German army rolled into Poland in 1939, it was still a 
largely horse-drawn army. Even by 1945, the horse was an essential 
part of the German army. Tanks were in short supply in 1939 and were 
really little more than thinly armoured tracked reconnaissance 
vehicles. Only the Skoda 38t could claim to be a modern gun tank with 
balanced armoured, speed, firepower and manoeuvrability. The German 
PkwIII and PkwVI tanks were a great step forward but were then 
retained in frontline service well past their sell by dates. The 
armoured car production was arguably better with four and eight wheel 
vehicles offering good performance and firepower.

It was in the half-track development and production that there was 
some real progress and achievement. Initially, armour was a lower 
priority because what was then required was a dependable half-track 
vehicle that could carry infantry into battle and replace the horse 
for towing artillery, particularly anti-tank guns. The result was the 
production of a number of broadly similar designs. These vehicles 
were relativity high which gave drivers and infantry good vision at 
the cost of also making them easier targets. As the objective was to 
keep the infantry up with the armoured fighting vehicles and enable 
them to dismount and remount quickly, the vehicles were open topped 
with wide openings beside each cross bench. This also made the 
vehicles ideal for towing artillery. Where gun and limber were towed, 
the personnel carrying ability was retained and a vehicle could 
combine or toggle both duties. Modifying the half-tracks for 
artillery duties led to reduced seating to accommodate the gun crew, 
and the replacement of the limber with ammunition stowage on the 
half-track. That improved particularly cross country operation and 
speeded deployment.

The German army was soon demanding armoured half-tracks and by the 
end of WWII they had a formidable number of designs in service. 
These vehicles were suitable in all the roles that the unarmoured 
vehicles had been assigned, but they also better supported their use 
as self-propelled artillery. Half-tracks were equipped with anti-
armour canon and produced an effective assault gun. The loss of air 
superiority by the Luftwaffe also led to large numbers of half-tracks 
being equipped with mounts for multiple anti-aircraft canon. This was 
very important on the East Front as the Soviets expanded their ground 
attack aviation and were able to roam at will over the opposing 
German forces.

This book provides a balanced view of this important German military 
vehicle category.