Tanks of D-Day 1944 – Armor of the beaches of Normandy and southern France, Steven J. Zaloga

Tanks of D-Day 1944 – Armor of the beaches of Normandy and southern France, Steven J. Zaloga

One of the most famous elements of the D-Day landings were the ‘funnies’, a wide range of tanks modified to perform specialist functions, including the swimming DD tanks, deep wading tanks, flail tanks, engineering tanks (AVREs) and flame thrower tanks. This book looks at each type that was considered, how they were deployed and how they performed on the day. 

We start with a look at each of the types of vehicles that were considered for use on D-Day. This is followed by the details of how many tanks of each type were available on each beach, and how they were organised. Next comes a beach-by-beach account of the role of the tanks, looking at their losses and their achievements.

One nice feature is the inclusion of vehicles that were considered for use on D-Day but not actually used, such as the Canal Defence Light tanks with their bright searchlights or the American Armored Engineer Vehicle, a version of the more famous British AVRE.

One thing that you often read in accounts of D-Day is that the Americans decided not to use many of the British ‘Funnies’. However that is disproved here, with an account of Eisenhower’s enthusiasm for them, and a list of requests that had been made by mid-February 1945. The real problem was that some of the requested items never entered production, and others weren’t built in large enough numbers for any to go to the US.

The combat accounts are fairly brief, but these are familiar battles and by focusing purely on these special tanks they still provide useful accounts of the role of the ‘funnies’ on all five D-Day beaches, and in a brief extra section during Operation Dragoon as well.

We finish with an analysis of how useful the various ‘funnies’ were on D-Day, largely based on contemporary reports. Unsurprisingly some types were more successful than others, but it does come as a surprise to see the AVRE getting fairly negative reviews. The attitude to the DD tanks seems to vary depending on how they were deployed, with the Americans, who tried to swim many of them in from too far out in rough seas, having a much lower opinion of them than the British and Canadians.

Specialized Tanks for Overlord
Tanks, Doctrine and Organisation
The Campaign
Battle Analysis

Author: Steven J. Zaloga
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 48
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2021

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