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With his forces having conquered a huge swathe of formerly Soviet territory in the months following the launch of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Hitler planned to continue the Germans' strategic offensive against the Soviet Union's oil-production capacity in the southern Caucasus region during the summer of 1942. To help pave the way for regular forces, the Abwehr (German military intelligence) sent forward 'Brandenburger' commando units to pave the way using tactics that had proven successful throughout the previous Western and Balkan campaigns. These commandos would secure oil-producing assets until more conventional forces from 1. Panzerarmee and 17. Armee could arrive in strength. Specially trained in foreign cultures and military vehicles, small-unit tactics, parachuting, sabotage, reconnaissance, assassination and deception techniques, these elite commandos usually operated in company-sized units or smaller and recruited many 'non-Aryan' native speakers of those languages spoken in the target countries.In early August 1942, a small Brandenburger unit of Baltic and Sudeten Germans led by Freiherr Adrian von Fölkersam penetrated far ahead of German regular forces to seize Soviet oil facilities around Maikop. Disguised as members of Stalin's NKVD, the repressive police organisation dreaded by most Soviet citizens and soldiers, Fölkersam's command passed through the Soviet front lines using captured trucks and moved deep into hostile territory, where the chaos of the Soviet battlefield situation aided in their passing as 'official'. As regular German forces approached after several days, the Brandenburgers went into action using grenades to simulate an artillery attack before disabling Maikop's military communication network. Having previously seen Fölkersam with their commander, and lacking any communications to rebut or confirm his statement, the Soviets began to evacuate Maikop at Fölkersam's urging. The German spearhead entered the city on 9 August 1942 against minimal resistance and found that several oil-production facilities were still functioning.Featuring specially drawn full-colour artwork and expert analysis of the Maikop operation, this assessment of the dramatic raid that delivered intact Soviet oil-production facilities into Nazi hands casts new light of the German special-forces operations on the Eastern Front.
The culmination of big-gun German and Soviet tank destroyer design can be found in their clashes in Hungary in the spring of 1945. As World War II in Europe reached its end, armor development and doctrine had experienced several years of massively accelerated change, especially within the crucible of the Eastern Front. The German Jagdpanther and Soviet SU-100, both turretless tank destroyer designs based on a 'traditional' turret-tank chassis, were the culminating examples of how the progression of experience, resources and time constraints produced vehicles that were well suited for roles of defence and offence, respectively. The Jagdpanther represented a well-balanced solution and an excellent use of limited resources, while the SU-100 was a natural progression of the rudimentary but numerous SU-85.As the role of tanks broadened from essentially infantry support to anti-tank, armor thickness and armament increased to enable AFVs better to survive such encounters. Expensive and hard to upgrade with larger armament owing to the constraints imposed by turret-ring size and suspension, turreted tanks gave way in some contexts to new designs. The Soviets and the Germans alike found that more powerful guns could be installed directly into the hull, which in turn reduced the vehicle's silhouette, and allowed for increased armour protection for the weight. A rapid arms race resulted in the East with each side attempting to develop a battlefield edge, if only for a limited time.For the Germans the 8.8cm-armed Jagdpanther was intended for more defensive roles, such as ambushing or flank protection at long range where its superior sights and high-velocity rounds imparted an advantage. Its sloped armor and relatively light weight meant, unlike the more massive (and less practical) Jagdtiger (a Tiger II derivative), it could also operate in a more mobile capacity. Its superior optics offered key firepower advantages, but its origins in the overengineered Panther design meant it was susceptible to breakdown and mechanical problems.In contrast, the closest Soviet equivalent, the SU-100, was designed to operate alongside armor and mechanized forces in an offensive capacity, where its 100mm main gun would help counter heavier enemy armour when encountered. Although its speed and armour protection were comparable, the greater numbers fielded late in the war often proved decisive against an adversary increasingly forced to fight despite inadequate logistics and training. By this stage of the conflict, the Germans were forced to adopt ad hoc battle groups to coordinate their decimated parent formations' assets. The Soviets in turn possessed operational momentum, and were perhaps less concerned with tactical losses, in part as immobilized vehicles could be more easily recovered and reintroduced into combat.
This book examines the technology and strategy that defined the outcome of the battles between the King Tiger and the IS-2. The Soviets had been quick to develop tanks that could fight the Tiger on an equal footing, but these were developed as part of a completely different strategy than that employed by the Germans. The King Tiger was a modern marvel, and remained unmatched in one-on-one combat. Technologically superior, with greater firepower and better armour than the Soviet IS-2, the King Tiger was a formidable opponent. However, the IS-2 was lighter, more manoeuvrable and most importantly, far more numerous. With overwhelming numerical superiority the Soviets were able to simply overwhelm their opponents, negating the technical superiority of the King Tiger.
The German A7V and the British Mark IV were similar in weight, size, and speed, but differed significantly in armour, armament and maneuverability. The A7V had thicker armour, and had nearly double the horsepower per ton. The Mark IV's pair of side-mounted 6pdr cannons forced the vehicle to present its side arc to an enemy in order to fire one of its main guns. Possessing twice as many machine guns as the Mark IV, the A7V had a frontally mounted 57mm gun that proved capable of defeating the Mark IV's armour. The Mark IV's rhomboid design proved superior in crossing trenches, climbing obstacles and moving over rough terrain. As the first tank-versus-tank engagement in history, the fighting around Villers-Bretonneux showcased the British Mark IV and German A7V designs. Although not purpose-built to combat enemy armour, both vehicles proved the viability of such operations, which during the postwar period led to key advances in suspension, armour, gunsights, ammunition, and command and control. While the British continued to develop their armoured forces, German armour development never materialized, and only in the postwar period did they address the issue.
Hitler's lightning invasion of Poland in 1939 was the real beginning of World War II in Europe. This was the period when armored warfare inscribed itself into global consciousness as the Poles desperately sought to stave off the Blitzkrieg. At the heart of the fighting on the ground, large numbers of Nazi Germany's PzKpfw II battled against Poland's better-armed but much less numerous 7TP tank. The two types both possessed unique strengths and weaknesses - the PzKpfw II was blessed with radio which the 7TP was not, which proved critical for command and control purposes in the heat of combat. But the German tank was blighted by thin armor, which could not withstand Polish gunfire at combat ranges. This fully illustrated, detailed work evaluates these strengths and weaknesses, comparing opponents and exploring the clashes between these armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) in the context of the invasion of Poland.
Opposed by "Bloody" Tarleton's Raiders, American Revolution patriots under Francis Marion fought a brutal guerrilla war throughout South Carolina and North Carolina. The American Revolution was deadlocked in the north, and after the battle at Monmouth Courthouse in 1778 the focus of the conflict shifted south. Following-up on his decisive May 12, 1780 victory at Charleston, South Carolina, Cornwallis launched a campaign through the Carolinas that was designed to expel American Continental and militia forces from the southern theater. With a second British victory at Camden in August, conventional American forces adopted a policy of avoiding another large battle in favor of smaller, more limited operations. As regular forces were constrained by traditional logistics and organization, soldiers like Francis Marion were able to inflict numerous raids and skirmishes against British and Loyalist forces, after which they would dissolve to form and fight at a later time. Cornwallis subsequently directed contingents to secure the countryside and capture such leaders, but the Patriot victory at King's Mountain (October), forced him to withdraw into South Carolina in what was one of the turning points in the Revolutionary War. To the southeast, Francis Marion continued his hit-and-run operations in which his band rescued American prisoners at Nelson's Ferry, dispersed Loyalist forces at Blue Savannah (September), and defeated a British outpost at Black Mingo (September). When Marion defeated Loyalist militia at Tearcoat Swamp in October, Cornwallis responded to this string of raids across northeastern South Carolina by assigning his aggressive cavalry commander, Banastre Tarleton, to capture or kill the rebel guerrilla commander. What followed was an unsuccessful two-week pursuit of the elusive Marion, in which Tarleton practiced a scorched-earth policy that ultimately disillusioned Loyalist sympathizers and hurt the British cause in the Carolinas. Unlike much of the Revolutionary War in the north, the fighting in the Carolinas was generally less civilized and brutal, with Loyalists and Rebels in roughly equal numbers. Except for Cornwallis' British regulars and Greene's Continental army, militias and irregular forces were the norm. A Raid book covering the Marion/Tarleton (British) struggle would be used to showcase this style of frontier warfare, and how its combatants were supplied, organized, and operated. Although not a single, defined raid, the series of actions between August and November 1780 illustrate Marion's unconventional, yet successful, efforts to hinder their enemy's war effort in the south, and Tarleton's equally irregular efforts to counter it.
In 1967-68, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) was on the front line of the defense of South Vietnam's Quang Tri province, which was at the very heart of the Vietnam conflict. Facing them were the soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), men whose organization and equipment made them a very different opponent from the famous, irregular Viet Cong forces. From the "Hill Battles" in April 1967 to the struggle for the city of Huế (January-March 1968) this bloody campaign forced the two sides into a grueling trial of strength. The USMC held a general technological and logistical advantage - including close air support and airborne transport, technology, and supplies - but could not always utilize these resources effectively in mountainous, jungle, or urban environments better known by their Vietnamese opponents. In this arresting account of small-unit combat, David R. Higgins steps into the tropical terrain of Vietnam to assess the performance and experience of six USMC and NVA units in three savage battles that stretched both sides to the limit.
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