The tank dominated land warfare during WWII and the author has provided not only a very able and well-illustrated account of this, but also provided an excellent genesis of the tanks and a description of how WWII tank technology and tactics have influenced post WWII tank warfare. The clear and impressive text is fully supported by lavish illustration with contemporary photographs, most highly recommended.
NAME: Tanks of the Second World War FILE: R2469 AUTHOR: Thomas Anderson PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 219 PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: World War 2, WWII, World War II, Second World War, armour, technology, tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, AFV, early tanks, development of armour after WWII
IMAGE: B2469.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ktldbhw LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The tank dominated land warfare during WWII and the author has provided not only a very able and well-illustrated account of this, but also provided an excellent genesis of the tanks and a description of how WWII tank technology and tactics have influenced post WWII tank warfare. The clear and impressive text is fully supported by lavish illustration with contemporary photographs, most highly recommended. The tank was not new at the start of WWII, but the mechanised armoured vehicle was relatively recent. Armoured vehicles were known in ancient history but were heavily limited by the choices of power and mobility, and by the available weapons. To power the earliest armoured fighting vehicles there was a choice of man power or draft animals. To adequately protect the vehicle and its power system required armour that was heavy, required more power and became inordinately long to protect men, horses, or oxen. This represented a heavy investment for the time and still produced very little offensive capability because the available arms were insignificant. When the steam engine came into being there was a potential power source that could support a very heavy vehicle and its gun armament, but it was still a largely impractical weapon system, its fuel requiring valuable space and the heat generated in an enclosed space affected the endurance of the crew. By WWI, the internal combustion engine was making many new weapon systems practical. It powered lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air craft that could attack ground and sea targets most effectively. It allowed troops to be carried by bus from their homes to the distant front line. It provided power for fast small warships that could threaten the most powerful battleship. It enabled heavy artillery to be moved close to the front line and to relocate the guns before counter-battery shelling could take them out. It completely revolutionized land, air, and sea warfare. It was matched by ever more powerful guns and ever more effective armour. Those developments alone ensured that someone would create a new armoured fighting vehicle and there was certainly a need for a new weapon to break the bloody stalemate of trench warfare. To make such a weapon truly effective, it required new running gear that could work as well on metalled roads as on muddy terrain and large gradients. The Royal Navy was keen at an early stage to develop armoured vehicles, based on their extensive experience of armoured ships and naval guns. Most of the tanks to serve during WWI were British tanks based on the Royal Navy's initiatives, but the Germans and French were soon developing their own attempts at a solution that were both similar and different from the earliest British tanks. The classic British tank shape was produced in large numbers and was also deployed in large formations. However, tactics were relatively simple. Tanks, in small numbers and large numbers, were used as mobile fortresses that moved directly against enemy trenches and provided a convenient moving rampart that the infantry could advance behind. The general reliability of early tanks prevented real opportunity to move on into a war of movement, fanning out behind the enemy trenches to create a fluid front marching on towards the enemy homeland. After WWI there was diverse development that saw the smallest light tanks to the largest multi-turreted monsters. Many designs were not very practical. Some soon proved to be a dead end and, by 1939, all nations building tanks were building to a generally similar design and considering how to introduce the tactics that would prevent a repeat of the WWI trench warfare. The Germans were the first to consider using an all-arms mechanized force that was provided with close support from aircraft to produce a lightning war with speed and fluid movement. Very soon, all the opposing forces were using broadly similar tactics and technology, with tanks dominating almost every battlefield in the war. In North Africa and in Russia, huge numbers of tanks were employed and fought battles of movement that had many similarities to war at sea. New diversity was introduced and tanks became heavy and more heavily gunned. This presented many new challenges. The author has described this process of development during WWII and the debt it owed to earlier developments before 1939. He has then concluded by showing how the WWII experience directed much of the AFV development after 1945. It is a very interesting story of how designers and manufacturers faced their challenges and delivered armour to the troops, who then had to devise the best ways to employ the new technology.