Hitler's Heavy Tiger Tank Battalions 1942-1945 (images of war series)

Hitler's Heavy Tiger Tank Battalions 1942-1945 (images of war series)

Author
Ian Baxter
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Ian Baxter is a military historian specialising in German twentieth-century military history. He has written more than fifty books including Panzers in North Africa, The Ardennes Offensive, The Western Campaign, The 12th SS Panzer-division Hitlerjugend, The Waffen-SS on the Western Front, The Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front and many more. He has also reviewed numerous studies for publication, supplied thousands of photographs and important documents to various publishers and film production companies worldwide, and lectures to schools, colleges and universities.

Using rare and unpublished photographs, Hitler's Heavy Tiger Tank Battalions is an illustrated record of German heavy tank battalions or Schwere Panzer Abteilungen during operations on the Eastern, Western and Italian fronts between 1942 and 1945. It is a visual account of the various elite battalion-sized units of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS equipped with the Tiger 1 and later Tiger II heavy tanks.

The book shows early unit formations comprising twenty Tigers and sixteen PzKpfw.IIIs, it illustrates the various vehicles that each battalion used in a supporting role, and the special independent Tiger Tank maintenance companies which kept the vehicles in fighting condition. Much was owed by the Tiger Tank Battalions to their maintenance teams, which were able to quickly repair combat damage and return tanks to the battlefield to carry on their role of destroying the enemy.

The development of the Tiger Tank Battalions is traced from their deployment in the Eastern Front in 1942, Italy a year later, France in 1944 and to defensive actions around the outskirts of Berlin in 1945.With detailed captions and text, the book tells the story of how these battalions evolved and shows that although they were successful on the battlefield, mechanical unreliability continuously reduced the battalions to smaller and smaller combat-ready units.

These heavy tanks, which were constantly required to fight both defensive and offensive missions, were shuffled around and organised into ad hoc units according to battlefield conditions. Huge numbers were lost, but in spite of this, the battalions fought on valiantly until the last days of the war, when they finally destroyed their equipment and surrendered to their enemies.

Baxter has divided the book into four main chapters, preceded by a brief history of the Panzerwaffe, and when the Tiger Tank enters service. Chapters are enumerated in accordance with the theatre of operations. Hence chapter one is The Eastern Front and North Africa 1942-43, chapter two is Sicily and Eastern Front 1943, chapter three is the Eastern and Western Fronts 1944 and chapter four is The Last Year of War 1944-45. There follows six appendices dealing with the following; Tank profiles, Battalion History, Battalion Markings, Equipment, Organisational Structure and 1944 Battalion.

An excellent informative book filled with a multitude of photographs showing the tanks in service, in action and in some cases, in pieces! This book is perfect for anyone wishing to build a model of this beast of a tank and even includes pictures of the tank markings. As well as model-makers, this book also caters for the military historian and vehicle watchers.

In my opinion, Baxter has done his usual expert job on this book, producing something for many genres while keeping to the subject matter in hand.

I would recommend this book to any of my fellow Modeller's and historians. While tank warfare isn't everyone's cup of tea, the are plenty of other vehicles shown in this book.

Rating out of five - four and a half.

Smeggers

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