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.
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.