Allied Armour, 1939-1945, British and American Tanks at War

The author has demonstrated a sound knowledge of armoured vehicles in his previous books and this new book provides that knowledge in comparing British and American armoured vehicles at war. The Allied armour was much more capable than many historians have acknowledged and this book dispels some of the past errors and misconceptions of other military historians. Very Highly Recommended

NAME:  Allied Armour, 1939-1945, British and American Tanks at War
FILE: R3337
AUTHOR: Anthony Tucker-Jones
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                                
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, 1939-1945, 
Europe, Middle East, Far East, MkIV, MkVI, cruiser tank, light tank, self-propelled 
gun, tank killers, reconnaissance, Honey, Stuart, M3, M4, M5, Lee, Grant, Sherman, 
M10, M18, M36, Matilda, Crusader, Valentine, Churchill, British 'funnies'

ISBN: 1-52677-797-5

PAGES: 232, 16 pages of full colour images in two photo-plate sections
IMAGE: B3337.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/py4ubtyy
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author has demonstrated a sound knowledge of armoured 
vehicles in his previous books and this new book provides that knowledge in 
comparing British and American armoured vehicles at war. The Allied armour was 
much more capable than many historians have acknowledged and this book 
dispels some of the past errors and misconceptions of other military historians.  
Very Highly Recommended

The accepted wisdom of many historians is that the Germans were supreme in all matters armoured throughout WWII. This view should be challenged. Germany was ahead in terms of tactics and co-ordination between aircraft, tanks and artillery. Where the Luftwaffe was able to achieve air superiority, the German Panzers could demonstrate Blitz Krieg. Their armour was initially poor, both British and French tanks were superior. What the Allies lacked was numbers and co-ordination with aviation. At Arras, the British grouped together all their available armour and demonstrated just how successful they could be against German tanks. However, the serious lack of numbers meant that this was the only time in the Battle of France where enough tanks could be assembled to punish the Panzers. Arras achieved its limited objective of slowing the German advance to give adequate time to bring the BEF and neighbouring French units to Dunkirk for evacuation.

After the French defeat, the Wehrmacht started to receive large numbers of PkwIII tanks and start allocating the PkwIV. As the armoured battles moved to North Afrika, the German Afrika Korps was sent to save the Italians and it took with it the PkwIII, PkwIV and Tiger I tanks, together with self propelled artillery/assault guns. This enabled them to force the British back to Egypt. The British then counter attacked and forced the Germans back into Algeria and combined with the force landed in Operation Torch to the West of the Germans. What really changed the fortunes again was that the British built up large numbers of tanks, particularly American Sherman tanks. They also benefited from the spirit defence of Malta that provided a base for fast attack craft, aircraft and submarines to decimate Italian and German supply convoys to North Africa.

After the defeat of the Afrika Korps, the Germans were fighting in huge armoured battles on the Eastern front and much of their development was geared at combatting Soviet tanks, particularly the T-34 and later the heavy Soviet tanks. Britain and America learned from the Battle of France and began the preparations for the landing of troops in the liberation of France and eventual defeat of the Germans.

The Germans would have had a much more effective PkwIII had they not employed a smaller short barrel main gun than originally intended. The PkwIV was much more effective and remained a staple through to the end of the war. Earlier chassis were largely re-manufactured as anti-aircraft, self propelled/assault guns and tank killers. The Panther was developed to counter the Soviet T-34 and the Tiger I was developed into the Tiger II. Those three models were effective systems with many innovations, but suffered from low production rates and compressed development that took many short cuts, reducing reliability.

The British followed a similar path to that taken by the Germans but the great advantage was the terrific factory output of American armour that was shipped across to Britain on also to the Soviets. It was also the case that British tank factories increased output enabling the Red Army to receive British armour. The Red Army valued these tanks which suited the conditions on the Eastern Front. American designs were competent, but conservative and weaker than contemporary German models, the exception being the Firefly Sherman which was an America supplied Sherman that was up-gunned by the British with their outstanding 17 pounder anti-tank gun and able to take on Tiger I and Tiger II tanks with success. There was development of Allied self-propelled artillery and tank killers, but the unique area was the British ‘funnies’. These specialist tanks were developed for the Normandy landings, allowing Shermans to swim ashore and for tanks to destroy strong points and minefields.

The author has presented a convincing review of British and American armour as it developed to combat German armour and be used in the Far East against the Japanese. The supporting illustrations, in two photo-plate sections, provide a very interesting selection of images..