We start with a look at the better anti-tank weapons available to Germany in 1942, a mix of German and captured weapons. The year started with the entry into service of the 7.5cm PaK 40, one of the most significant German anti-tank weapons of the second half of the war. Various more advanced weapons were also developed, although they required tungsten, which was in short supply, so played a very limited role in the fighting.
We then move on to a look at the various self propelled guns produced for the tank hunter units. This section would have been better without the constant special pleading about how impoverished the German arms industry was - Speer’s efforts in 1944 demonstrates that it was simply very inefficient earlier in the war.
The over-use of abbreviations makes some parts of the text rather impenetrable – using PzJg (t) 7.62cm PaK 36 (PzSfl 2) instead of the more familiar Marder III for example.
Most of the book is built around after action reports, large chunks of which are reproduced. This gives us a very valuable insight into how their users saw each of the anti-tank weapons under discussion here. The only problem is that the reports are arranged by front and then by date, so it isn’t easy to find all of the comments relating to a particular weapon. However this is a minor flaw, and the shear weight of reports is of great value.
The last two chapters look at different topics – first the use of anti-tank guns in the many fortresses and fortifications built as the Germans were pushed back on all fronts, and second the last few high tech weapons developed as the Reich lurched towards total destruction.
This is an interesting approach to these weapons, giving us a good idea of how they were seen at the time, and the pressures that led to the deployment of so many different anti-tank weapons, both German and captured.
1 – 1942 – The Eastern Front
2 – Panzerarmee Afrika
3 – 1942/43 – Panzerjager in the East
4 – 1943 – New Weapons
5 – Front-line Weapons
6 – After Kursk – on the Defensive
7 – Festungs-PaK
8 – High Tech and Austerity
9 – Conclusion
Author: Thomas Anderson