by Thomas Anderson
Pressed into service 75 years ago Germany's Tiger tank maintains its legendary status today. Although never a factor strategically the Tiger, as a breakthrough tank, was able to influence events tactically. As a centerpiece of the Bovington Tank Museum collection in the UK or films like Fury, the Tiger remains a subject of fascination and controversy. Weather you are a fan or a critic of the Tiger there is a wealth of history and detail to help fan the debate.
Osprey Publishing brings us Tiger, by Thomas Anderson. This is a paperback version of the same title first published in 2013. The subject is the German Tiger series of tanks. Although all variants of the series are covered the Tiger I receives the most attention. The author takes the approach of dividing the Tiger' families history into chapters that add context to areas such as development, unit organization, armor , mobility, firepower, combat, and maintenance. By stepping back from the typical chronological storytelling Anderson succeeds in giving the reader understanding of how the tank is viewed from these different points of view. The story is interesting. I found the book added to my understanding of both the Tiger I and how heavy tank units operated in the conflict.
Tiger differs from the typical photo reference volume. The photographs are sometimes not of the highest resolution. However, the photo's serve to help the author tell the story via the accompanying text. Captions are well done and point out details of interest to the modeler. The text is easy to read without sacrificing detail. In summary, the way the chapters are organized allow the author to focus on the topics of interest without being bound to a "beginning to end" chronology.
Format: Paperback with glossy heavy paper cover
Size: 7.5" x 9.5" (similar to shelf size of other Osprey reference series such as the Duel series)
Photographs: Black and white, on every page, including graphic and diagrams for unit structures and extracts from training manuals.
Special attention is placed on showing the Tiger tank in diverse settings. Although some photos are common to earlier publication I found many that were new to me. Some scenes are no doubt posed for propaganda photographers, Many more seemed to place the Tiger close to the front lines with candids of soldiers and crew.
Unit composition is explained using graphics such at the one below. It was fascinating to follow early combat heavy tank units that had Panzer III or IV's supporting each Tiger in combat. As the war progressed and supplies of equipment and manpower became scarce the units were slimmed down with fewer support vehicles.
The author takes advantage of many sources, including training manuals and intelligence reports. Here you can see a reference for German tankers demonstrating where the vulnerable places are on a Sherman tank. There are also pages taken from Soviet intelligence reports on the Tiger's weak spots.
Here some Hungarian tankers get training on the Tiger I. The chapter on maintenance exposed the problems with the lack of recovery vehicles brought out in the earlier chapter on unit organization. I was not aware of how captured Allied tanks were pressed into service as recovery vehicles. If you are considering a build of a Tiger in a maintenance setting this book is essential.
This is a book you will want to read as much as you want to thumb through the photographs.
Often overlooked in reference books are photographs of tank crews and maintenance teams, along with supporting infantry. Anderson does a good job including the human element.
The caption for this Soviet training illustration explains what ammo types and ranges are effective against the Tiger.
All Tiger variants receive some attention. Several only a page or two....the Tiger I gets top billing.
This addition to the Osprey collection represents an outstanding value. The general reader, or modeler, looking to gain insights into how the Tiger was deployed in the conflict will be rewarded with a highly visual and interesting read. The roads these heavy tanks traveled, their crews, and support teams that kept them running, are all on display as the story unfolds.
Chapters covering specific aspects of the Tiger series - not a straight history
Photographs placing the Tiger in many settings (e.g. at the front, workshops, in transport,battle damaged)
Text and captions have detail of interest to the modeler. The reader gains understanding and insights that can be sparse in other reference formats.
Author takes a balanced view of the subject that includes many first hand quotes; this is not a gushing tribute.
Images chosen to tell the story are not always of the best quality. Some cropping apparent.
The fast moving story results in text that is sometimes choppy and leaves you wanting more description to complete the thought.
Highly Recommended for anyone interest in the Tiger series tanks, or German armor in general.
Thanks goes out to Osprey Publishing for this review kit.
Reviewed by Mark Norman, Hudson Valley AMPS
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