This book has three main threads. The first is the development of the bazooka itself, looking at how it worked, how the launchers and rockets were developed into working weapons and how it was used in combat. The second looks at the various anti-infantry defensive measures introduced on German tanks, many of which are often said to have been produced in response to the threat of the bazooka. Third is a case study, using one of the larger scale German tank attacks of the Battle of the Bulge.
Two main sets of tank defences are examined. The first are the side screens added to many German tanks, which turn out to have been developed because the Germans expected the Soviets to produce copies of their own magnetic anti-tank weapons. Tests later showed that they had little or no impact on the bazooka, and may even have made some of them more effective!
The overall analysis suggests that the bazooka was only moderately effective as an anti-tank weapon, responsible for a fairly small percentage of destroyed tanks, but was a very effective anti-material weapon, used against all sorts of other targets. An impressive 1.3 million bazooka rockets were fired during the north-western European campaign, suggesting that it was a very popular weapons!
The case study looks at a single example of a fairly large scale German tank attack during the Battle of the Bulge. Sadly for our book the right sort of research wasn’t done at the time, so we don't actually know how many of the tanks destroyers in this battle were taken out by bazookas, but the narrative gives a series of examples where this was the case, as well as looking at the impact of other weapons. There are also interviews with some of the troops involved, which show that the bazooka was seen as a much more effective anti-tank weapon than their 57mm guns.
Design and Development
The Strategic Situation
Statistics and Analysis
Author: Steven J. Zaloga