Pen and Sword - Tank Wrecks of the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Anthony Tucker-Jones has authored over 30 books on military history with an emphasis on modern mechanized combat; his newest is Tank Wrecks of the Eastern Front 1941-45 in the Images of War series.
This is a relatively small book, about 24 X 19 cm, with soft covers and a matte finish to the paper. In 141 pages, the author provides a photographic collection of the major/best-known tanks of the eastern front, covering the entire war from 1941 to 1945. Most of the photos appear to have been taken by soldiers themselves or by professional photographers assigned to the task. Both sides obviously had an interest in photographing knocked out or captured enemy AFVs. Aside from the obvious intelligence value, these photos also had propaganda value.
Tucker-Jones organizes his book into a short introduction and ten chapters, each comprised of photos of a single vehicle type. The chapters are:
3. T-28 and T-35
7. Panzer III
8. Panzer IV
Chapter length varies but is typically 10-15 pages per vehicle. This arrangement of chapters follows, very roughly, the timeline of when each of these tanks was introduced to combat. Thus the early chapters are largely concerned with the early war period while the later chapters cover later in the war.
The selection of tank types raises some questions. A beginning student of armored warfare might pick most of these types as the most important tanks of the eastern front. However, there are important gaps left. For example, there is nothing on the Panzer II, 35(t) or 38(t); these light tanks formed at least one-third of the German tank force in June 1941. There is nothing on the Red Army's T-60 and T-70 light tanks either. Neither of these were great tanks, to be sure, but numerically they were very important until mid-1943. More important, there is nothing on the IS-2 heavy tank nor the T-434-85 medium tank. These were the two most important Red Army tanks in 1944-45 and their omission is odd.
There is also perhaps undue weight given to minor types such as the KV-2, which was certainly a spectacular vehicle, but with less than 300 built, I struggle to see why it gets a chapter when much more important tanks such as those cited above are absent.
That said, each chapter provides a nice selection of photos, and the wrecked state of the tanks is of great interest to modelers. A warning: many of these wreck photos have very visible human remains.
Below, I've provided one photo each from most of the chapters. A high proportion of these photos were new to me. One plus is that Tucker-Jones included some unusual variants such as the T-26-based flamethrower shown below.
A T-26 Chemical tank (flamethrower or chemical-spraying tank) in 1941. Photographic quality is not ideal but is typical for this book.
A destroyed BT-7 Model 1937. The BT-7 chapter has no BT-5s and only one BT-2. The BT-7 was by far the most numerous of the series.
One of the handful (~60) of massive T-35 breakthrough tanks. The triangle is a tactical marking for the 68th Tank Regiment, 8th Tank Division. Almost all the T-35s were felled by breakdowns, not in combat.
A T-28 medium tank, an advanced design in 1933 but outclassed in 1941. Although the author speculates that few were in service in 1941, in fact well over 400 were available. Almost all were lost by winter 1941.
An early KV-1 with two huge penetrations in the turret side.
An early T-34 blown onto its side.
A Panzer III penetrated through the glacis.
A thoroughly-destroyed Panzer IV G
A fairly early Tiger I knocked out or abandoned. The Tiger chapter covers both the Tiger I and Tiger II.
A shattered Panther ausf D at Kursk.
This is a good lightweight photograph collection , and there are certainly some new photos here. Photographic reproduction is good but not great. The selection of photos leaves out some important tanks. There are some errors in the text typical of sources from decades ago. That said, this is still useful to modelers looking for raw photos of wrecks.
Recommended for Beginner builders.
Thanks goes out to Casemate for this review sample.
Reviewed by Danny Egan
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