Casemate Illustrated Special
German Tank Destroyers
Casemate continues to publish an ever increasing number of high quality reference works for modelers and military history aficionados alike. This photo heavy volume examines the development and use of tank destroyers by the German Army of World War II.
This book is from the Casemate Illustrated Special series, which differs from the Casemate Illustrated series in that it’s slightly larger, has more pages, and is hardbound. The pricing of these “Special” volumes is slightly more expensive as well.
As early as the invasion of France, the German Army began running into heavier armor than expected, and their then-current anti-tank weapons were either too small a caliber, or too slow to deploy effectively. In addition, coupled with the needs of fast-moving mobile warfare, the need for self propelled, heavier anti-tank weapons was clear. Some of the earliest efforts in developing this new type of tank destroyer / hunter utilized captured enemy weapons and/or vehicles. From that start, the Germans began a purposeful program of developing ever heavier, more effective tank destroyers, and that program is the subject of this volume.
Format - hardcover, portrait format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 192 pages
Size - 10.0" x 8.0"
Photos - 250 images, mostly WWII period black and white, with a handful of full color images of museum vehicles.
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - a timeline table, and a few color profiles of vehicles
All text and photo captions are in English
What’s in the Book?
Above - the book’s table of contents. As you can see, this volume covers the entire range of German tank destroyers from the early campaigns of WWII all the way to the end stages of the war and the innovative Jagdpanzer IV line. Some of the very rare variants are covered, such as the Sturer Emil and the Dicker Max.
The volume opens with a nice timeline table which shows significant events of Germany’s WWII, along with noteworthy dates concerning their development and use of tank destroyers.
Above - there are many wonderful images of the earliest German tank destroyers, including the “Ente” or duck, which mounted a captured Czech 4.7 cm gun on a Panzer 1 chassis. The photos throughout this volume are well chosen for their interest.
The Marder series of tank destroyers is well addressed in this volume, with a nice assortment of images.
A Note on the photographs - the quality of the photos throughout this book is generally very good, with only a few exceptions. Due to the conditions under which some of the images were made, some of them can be just a bit dark or grainy. Given the subject matter though, this is certainly preferable to no images of these subjects at all. Photo images found in this volume range from 1/3 page size to 1/2 page, with a few being full page sized. Pretty good study of detail in the images is possible in most cases.
Alongside of the studies of the machines used, the human element is not forgotten in this book. There are a few interesting accounts of the men that commanded or crewed these tank destroyers, with some first hand accounts of their experiences. This is very interesting reading.
A couple of rare examples of tank destroyers are examined in this book; the Dicker Max and the Sturer Emil ( A nickname meaning Stubborn Emil ). Both vehicles were only fielded by just two examples, and were more or less evolutionary dead ends. The Dicker Max’s disappeared from all reports by the end of 1942, and the Sturer Emil tank destroyers lasted just a wee bit longer and with a bit more of an interesting history. One was destroyed during the 1942 advance on Stalingrad, the other was captured when the Stalingrad pocket was finally taken by the Red Army in early 1943. The vehicle captured at Stalingrad had a whopping 22 kill rings painted on its massive gun tube.
The Sturer Emil captured during the fall of Stalingrad is the sole surviving example of this tank destroyer, and is pictured above in Russia’s Kubinka tank museum. With 22 kills, this vehicle had a short but surely interesting operational life.
Above - The Hornisse / Nashorn is quite well covered with a terrific assortment of photographs, and well written text.
The Ferdinand / Elephant tank destroyers receive good coverage in this volume, along with what was Germany’s best late war tank destroyer, the Hetzer. Mounting a potent 75mm gun mounted on a low profile vehicle using the Czech 38(t) chassis, the Hetzer was an effective little tank killer.
Above - a couple of the full color profile renderings found in the book.
The book closes with a look at the final efforts by the German’s to stave off the hordes of Sherman’s and T-34s driving into the German homeland, the Jagdpanzer IV models. These were highly successful tank destroyers in several variants, but were a case of too few, too late. This final chapter has quite few interesting images of these TDs in action or knocked out during the bitter fighting of early 1945.
This book provides quite nice examinations of WWII Germany’s tank destroyers, and has enough length and depth to do good justice to the many various models produced.
The photographs aren’t perfect in all cases as described above, but they are generally quite good and highly interesting. There are a great many in action style images of each, with a few museum images of vehicles that survived. There are a few full color profile renderings of the vehicles, but no scale drawings. Those can easily be found elsewhere, so not an issue here as far I am concerned.
The text and photo captions are uniformly well done, clearly written and very informative.
For an overview style book on an entire class of vehicles, this book is unusually well detailed. This book should be of solid value to anyone interested in Germany’s WWII tank destroyers.
Thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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