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Pen & Sword- Hitler's Panzers

ISBN Number: 978-1399021210 Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Published: Friday, May 24, 2024 Retail Price: $24.95
Reviewed By: Michael Reeves

Pen & Sword- Hitler's Panzers

The Complete History 1933-1945

Book Specifics

Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones

Price: $24.95

ISBN: 978-1399021210

Paperback, 229 pages with 56 black and white photos on glossy paper plates

What's Inside

Many books have been written on the design and evolution of German tanks from early war small, thinly-armored tanks with small caliber guns through to the heavy, big-gunned Tigers and Panthers later in the war. This one follows a similar pattern- but one that can be easily digested without a whole lot of technical jargon. The book is divided into 4 main sections-- Designing Tractors which relates how Germany got around the constraints of the Versailles Treaty to create early tanks that could help Germans revolutionize combat with their Blitzkrieg techniques; Off to War; Sturmgeschütz Not Panzers; and Wasted Opportunities. There are a number of excellent appendices in the back tracking production and variants of the various marks of panzers.

The first section is divided up into the following chapters:

  • Goodbye Versailles
  • Going Farming
  • We Need a Tank Killer
  • A Blind Alley
  • Tank Killer Par Excellence
  • Bring me a Tiger
  • I Want a T-34

This section focuses on the early war panzers that saw some success moreso due to their overwhelming blitzkrieg tactics and the unpreparedness of their opponents. The focus is initially on the Panzer Is and IIs as they represented a stop gap while more powerfully armed and armored tanks were developed. As resistance stiffened with stronger and more powerful British and Soviet armor, the need to adapt and evolve into the Panzer IIIs and IVs was more and more evident. Thinly armored early panzers were proving to be vulnerable to the KV series and the imminent threat of the T-34. The book also focuses on the Inspector General of the Armored Forces Heinz Guderian and his growing frustrations at the meddling of Adolf Hitler with the direction of tank development and production. This section follows the progress of operations in Poland and France, as well as the North African desert and the early stages of combat in the Eastern Front. The section concludes with the early introduction of Tigers and Panthers into the action, along with all the teething problems they endured.


Part Two- Off to War delves into a more detailed look at the actual combat experiences of panzer forces in the various theaters of the war. The chapters include:

  • Blitzkrieg Babies
  • Panzers in North Africa
  • Panzers on the Steppe
  • Failure at Kursk
  • An Italian Sideshow
  • Panzers in Normandy

This section is a bit more chronological in nature as it delves into the various stages and armor types as the war wended its way towards the end.

Part III- Sturmgeschütz Not Panzers gives an in-depth look at how development and production of tanks shifted more to tank killers and less on infantry based attacks. The evolution of the Soviet armor to more powerful marks of the T-34 and even more advanced self-propelled guns and tank destroyers like the Su-122, SU-85 and -100, ISU-122 and -152, and SU-76 caused for some hasty reactions by Hitler. Production of the Panzer IVs, Tigers, and Panthers were diluted when various Sturm guns and flammpanzers and the like were developed on the chassis of the original tanks, much to Guderian's chagrin. 

Part IV- Wasted Opportunities ends the main text by concluding the story on the eventual defeat of Germany and the wasted concepts like the Maus and other enormous and inefficient paper panzer designs. The appendices are dedicated to the sort of information that can normally bog down the reading. They break down into the following sections:

  • Appendix A: Panzer, Assault Gun, and Tank Destroyer Production
  • Appendix B: Panzer and Panzergrenadier Divisions
  • Appendix C: Panzer I Variants
  • Appendix D: Panzer II Variants
  • Appendix E: Panzer III Variants
  • Appendix F: Panzer IV Variants
  • Appendix G: Tiger I and II Variants
  • Appendix H: Panther Variants

The first two consist of tables and lists of the various production and division numbers. The remaining sections center on self-propelled guns, command and maintenance vehicles, support vehicles, and the like.


This is an excellent primer for those just getting into armor who want a clear and concise breakdown of all of the AFVs that served to bolster Germany's panzer forces from the Spanish Civil War through the end stages of WWII. The photos are in three separate glossy plate sections and for the most part are not new as I have seen many of them published in other books. It was a quick read and the author did a good job in giving the information in an easy to digest format. It is quite evident that he felt the Panzer IV was truly Germany's best tank of the war and that the diversions from its production into heavier, more powerful (and sadly more problematic) examples like the Tigers and Panthers were a mistake.

Highly Recommended for anyone interested in Germany's panzers in WWII.

Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishing for this review sample.

Reviewed by Michael Reeves


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