This new addition to the very popular Images of War series covers the development of anti-tank weapons in German service. During World War 2, artillery was king of the battlefield, although tanks seized the imagination. The development of fast moving armour required similar development of anti-armour weapons. – Highly Recommended
NAME: Images of War, Hitler's Anti-Tank Weapons 1939-1945, Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives FILE: R3304 AUTHOR: Hans Seidler PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword BINDING: soft back PRICE: £14.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, Europe, North Africa, Western Front, Eastern Front Blitz Krieg, armour, armoured fighting vehicles, anti-armour artillery, anti-tank artillery, infantry anti-tank weapons, towed artillery, self propelled anti-tank guns, tank killer armoured platforms ISBN: 1-52674-983-1 PAGES: 127, extensive b&w photographs through the body of text IMAGE: B3304.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y2o55gjt LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This new addition to the very popular Images of War series covers the development of anti-tank weapons in German service. During World War 2, artillery was king of the battlefield, although tanks seized the imagination. The development of fast moving armour required similar development of anti-armour weapons. – Highly Recommended
The Germans began WWII with a selection of competent anti-tank guns. Initially, these were towed weapons, many of which were small enough to be manhandled by the gun crews. To reach the battlefields, the common tractor was a large half-track that could carry ammunition and the gun crew to the firing position. This meant that the Germans could employ also the larger calibre anti-tan guns like the famous 88mm that was originally designed as an anti-aircraft artillery piece.
As the war progressed, the Germans needed to field more powerful tanks and the models they entered the war with were primarily training and reconnaissance vehicles with only machine guns or small canons that were incapable of killing the armour they faced. The major challenge was how to up-gun existing tanks. The PkwI and PkwII models were not suitable for mounting a large anti-tank canon in a turret. Even the much more potent Skoda 38t, which already had a turret mounted anti-tank canon needed a bigger gun. The problem was that a larger gun needed more internal turret space and wider trunnions to cater for the larger gun with a heavier recoil.
The British tried under-cut turrets on their cruiser tanks which provided wide traverse, provide the trunnion distanced required by larger guns, but could still be mounted on the same size turret ring. Not bad approach in many ways, but it presented a shell trap in the undercut and this meant that where tanks with slopped armour or wide turret rings might deflect an incoming anti-tank shell, the under cut turret was often seriously damaged or penetrated in the undercut.
The Germans approach the same challenge in two alternative ways. One was to remove an existing turret and mount in the open space an anti-tank gun that had originally been intended to be mounted on a gun carriage as a towed gun. Usually this include a frontal armoured shield but provided no side, rear, or overhead protection from the crew from shrapnel. It did however provide the rapid conversion of existing chassis, including half track chassis.
The alternative was to place new superstructure on an existing tank chassis with a heavy glacis plate in which a new heavier gun was mounted in a mantel that allowed limited traverse and elevation. The advantage over the open mount approach was that the silhouette of the tank killer was greatly reduced and the disadvantage was that it had very limited gun movement, requiring the whole tank to be traversed to lock on to a target.
While the approach, of adapting proven existing tank and half track chassis for larger anti-tank guns, was a fast and low cost method of addressing a need, there was still a need to design more powerful tanks for a range of functions, including tank killing. The result for the Germans was a number of very large and heavy armoured fighting vehicles, including the Tiger II, which introduced new challenges. Their great weight often meant that they could not use existing bridges in some areas and were difficult to move by rail. However, as all combatants were developing larger tanks with more powerful guns, it also meant that there were periods when the heavy tanks of one combatant could not defeat the armour of new enemy models. To counter the Soviet heavy tanks, the Germans had to use guns more powerful than the legendary 88mm. This in turn meant a renewed requirement for towed guns that were larger and more difficult to bring to battle and move around the battlefield.
An answer to some of these issues was to equip infantry with anti-tank weapons that they could carry, but which were sufficiently potent that they could tackle the most powerful tanks. The British PIAT was a spring mortar that did provide some good service but the answer was a man carried rocket launcher.
The author has covered the German developments very well and the usual fine collection of rare images ably supports this evolution of anti-tank weapons in German service