Hitler’s Panzers.

Hitler’s Panzers.

Anthony Tucker-Jones.
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4 Mushroom Heads
Anthony Tucker-Jones is a well published author in the world of defence and intelligence. This is a book of 217 pages in total which includes extensive appendices and bibliography but lacks a glossary. The book goes into great depth about production statistics and numbers but does not really tell the story of the crews that manned these weapons systems, belaying, in my opinion, the term ‘complete history’.

The author details the development and rise of the German Panzerwaffe (armoured arm) from the accession of Adolf Hitler to power in 1933. Through the secret deals with Russia to enable training of future panzer leaders and the development of the tactics, used to so much effect with the development of Blitzkrieg, starting with the experience in Spain and extending that through World War Two.

The development in secrecy starting with the covering up of equipment as from vehicles allowed the start of training. The Germans also took a keen interest in the advancement of the concept of armoured warfare in other countries at this time. They were playing catch up, in that the Versailles treaty prohibited the use of armoured vehicles and tanks in particular also they had a legacy of not following the British in World War One into the use of armour on the battlefield.

One must remember that in 1939 and even up to the point of Operation Barbarossa in 1941 that the German Army was still largely a horse drawn and the actual numbers of fully motorised units was relatively small.

Then what one can call normal German procurement attitude persisted with this arm of their forces as happened in other arms of too many designs of tanks and assault guns with many sub-designs and short production runs. This led to tanks far too complicated in build and maintainability in particular in very austere areas of operation either in the Russian winter or the deserts of North Africa. The Whermacht also faced the usual high command politics but even worse the involvement of Hitler in procurement and deployment of panzers, in particular with the Panther, Tiger I and II. This led to a wasting of resources in men and material and an inability to influence the battlefield beyond a local tactical situation rather than a strategic one. The other problems not really touched upon is also the decreasing amounts of raw materials for construction as the war progressed, the use of Allied air power both strategically and tactically and a major factor was the late arrival of the concept of ‘Total War’ and its effect on production. The production disparity is quite marked for instance between the German industry and the Allied one has been illustrated in the production figure detailed in this book.

This is much to commend this book, but it assumes knowledge of the subject before reading and therefore in my opinion lacks a couple of things in particular for people coming to this subject for the first time. A set of line drawings showing the tanks in profile and basic statistics plus a glossary of such technical terms in relation to how suspension systems were designed and worked, how gun calibre against gun length was calculated. The appendices record in great detail each tank and its sub-variants for each tank and gun type.

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