Pen & Sword- Tank Warfare 1939-1945
Authors: Simon and Jonathan Forty
ISBN # 9781526767622
Hardcover book with 208 pages and 200 black and white photographs and diagrams
Upon first starting the book, I thought that this was definitely a book for the beginner modeler just getting into armor or for someone with a newly growing interest in tank history. It starts out being a great general overview of armor and the theaters in WWII that featured it. It evolved into so much more than that as we will soon see. It still stands up as a great overall reference- with excellent photos and diagrams.
Breaking down the chapters, we see the following:
- Abbreviations and Glossary
- Introduction (this covers mainly the evolution of armor through the First World War and sets up WWII)
- Ch. 1- Blitzkrieg
- Ch. 2- North Africa
- Ch. 3- The Eastern Front
- Ch. 4- Sicily and Italy
- Ch. 5- Normandy to Germany
- Ch. 6- Tanks Against Japan
The Blitzkrieg chapter focuses on Germany's entry into the war and eventual domination of many of the countries that would make up the Third Reich's occupation. Instead of just your typical history book format though, we get some real schooling. With subsections like "Concepts of armoured warfare", "Combat of the armoured division", "Defence against the armoured division", and "Motorised Infantry", we see all the doctrines, directives, and tactics that the German Command used to build a formidable force of armour, aircraft, and artillery to steamroll their way into most of the European mainland.
The North Africa gives us a look in great depth at the armor involves and the ways of desert warfare. There are sidebars throughout the text, including one on German methods of armoured attack by small units- taken from Tactical and Technical Trends 16, 14 January 1943.
Next time someone mentions your stowage should be tied down, show them these two photos!
The Eastern Front chapter continues the trend, but adds in the evolution of Russian 'Deep Battle' doctrine which is the Soviet answer to Blitzkrieg. Some sidebars here include "Russian tank tactics against German tanks", "Vulnerability of Tiger tanks", and "Infantry Cooperation with Tanks".
The subsequent chapters follow pretty much the same formula- excellent photos interlaced with excellent synopses on tactics, command structure and organization, equipment rundowns, training overviews, and so on. Each chapter focuses on the Allied and Axis forces involved in each theater and you get great insight into how the crews were trained and how well those skills paid off for them.
If that all wasn't good enough (and it is!), we get to the Appendices which are a wellspring of excellent information. They break down into the following:
- Tank Guns, Gunnery, and Ammunition
- Antitank Warfare
- Tank Maintenance and Recovery
- Tank Radios
- Bridging and Bridgelayers
- Amphibious Tanks
- Allied Tank Casualties in WWII
- Tank and SP Gun Production in WWII
I won't go into great depths of detail, but I will use the first appendix for example. In the sections on gunnery and ammunition, you get what fire orders look like and the lingo used, characteristics and development, summaries of the various types of ammunition and their abbreviations, stowage capacities, markings and a number of technical diagrams like you'd see in training manuals, and tank gunnery training regimens. The appendices are packed with great information and are unlike anything I have read before. There are very inspiring photos throughout the book that offer great ideas for the modeler. The last handful of pages offer detailed tables and charts that compare and contrast the different types of armor production numbers, casualty numbers by type, and so on. There is even an interesting chart listing the various tanks of the war compared by bridging weights.
What started out as just a general information book offering a general overview of armoured combat in the various theaters of battle in WWII quickly turned into a must have book for modelers and history buffs alike. A lot of the information might not be useful for the modeler by itself, but most tank modelers by nature are interested in armor books to begin with, so it really hits all the check marks. The photos inside are excellent and give pretty good overall coverage for any WWII tank you might be interested in. A worthy addition to your workshop library!
Highly Recommended for armor builders of any skill level.
Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishers and Pen & Sword for this review sample.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves, AMPS Albany
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