Tigers in Normandy, Wolfgang Schneider

Tigers in Normandy, Wolfgang Schneider

The Tiger tank gained a fearsome reputation amongst the Allied troops fighting in Normandy. Schneider's work looks at the detailed service record of almost every Tiger and Tiger II tank, tracing their activities, combat roles and eventual fate. In most cases the exact fate of each Tiger is known, although there are quite a few that are simply stated to have been 'knocked out', and where the exact cause of their destruction isn't unknown.

Perhaps the most valuable service that this book provides is to remind us that there were never that many Tigers fighting in Normandy at any one time. Their overall impact on the fighting was often dramatic, but it was also often fairly local. The British, Canadian and Poles who fought the Tigers faced far more Panzer IVs and their attacks were normally help by powerful anti-tank defences and the experienced German infantry rather than by any wonder weapons.

Some of the Tiger crews were undoubtedly very skilled. Schneider includes detailed examinations of the two most famous fighters of the Tiger 'ace' Michael Wittmann. In one of the Tiger actions in Normandy Wittmann inflicted heavy casualties on a British force that had reached Villers-Bocage before escaping safely. What I hadn't realised was that Wittmann's Tiger was actually knocked out during this action, as were four other Tigers (two to Fireflys and three to anti-tank guns). Schneider also looks at Wittmann's last fighter, where his Tiger formation once again fell foul of the Firefly Sherman.

The text is supported by an excellent selection of photographs, most of which are of identified tanks, so can be directly linked to the text. The author has used Allied and German photos, so we see intact tanks with their crews and knocked out tanks with spectators and damage. There are also so very useful maps for the more complex encounters, with fields of view of the main participations indicated. The author has also made good use of some length quotes from other works to provide detailed accounts of the fighting.

This is an excellent examination of a fairly specialised subject - the role of one particular type of tank in one particular campaign. Within those limits it should prove to be very useful.

Chapters
1 - Movement of the Tiger Formations to Normandy
2 - The Mystery of Villers-Bocage
3 - The Fighting for Hill 112
4 - Operation 'Epsom'
5 - Operation 'Jupiter'
6 - Arrival of the Third Tiger Battalion
7 - The Hell of Operation 'Goodwood'
8 - German Defensive Measures
9 - Operation 'Bluecoat'
10 - Operation 'Totalize' and Wittmann's Last Engagement
11 - Operation 'Tractable' and the Breakthrough to Falaise
12 - Overall Conclusions
Appendices
1 - British Forces Orders of Battle
2 - Composition of Tiger Units
3 - Tiger Markings
4 - Tiger Availability and Losses

 

Author: Wolfgang Schneider
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 377
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011 translation of 2004 German original


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