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The Italian army, unlike those of the British and French, did not use tanks in combat during World War I and, by November 1918, only one training unit equipped with French Schneider and Renault tanks had been formed. Consequently, during the 1920s the Italian army had just one single tank type in its armoured inventory - the Fiat 3000. Only in 1927 was the first tank unit formed as a branch of the infantry and not as an independent organization, while the cavalry rejected the idea of both tanks and armoured cars and decided to stand by the use of horses for its mounted units. Between 1933 and March 1939, a further 2,724 CV 33 / L 3 tanks were built, 1,216 of which were exported all over the world. By the time Italy entered the war in June 1940, the army had 1,284 light tanks, 855 of which were in combat units, including three armoured divisions. Variants of the CV 33 / L 3 tanks included flame-throwers, bridge-layers, recovery vehicles, and a radio command tank. Some L 3 tanks were still in use in 1945, by both the Germans and the German-allied Italian units of the Repubblica Sociale.
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.
Although tanks like the Sherman and Panther captured the headlines, the Allies' M10 tank destroyer and the Germans' Sturmgeschütz (StuG) III were the unsung workhorses of the northwest European battlefields of 1944-45. While their mission was not principally fighting one another, their widespread use ensured their frequent encounters, from the Normandy bocage to the rubble-strewn streets of Aachen. The StuG III was the quintessential assault gun: a low-slung, heavily armored, turretless vehicle intended to provide direct-fire support for infantry formations. It was a jack of all trades, being used both for the traditional direct-fire role, but also increasingly for antitank defense; when its armament was improved from a short 75mm gun to the better-known long 75mm gun, it reached its pinnacle and remained largely unchanged from 1943 to 1945. It proved exceptionally valuable in Normandy as its low profile and excellent armament made it a useful infantry support weapon while at the same time it had more than adequate firepower to destroy standard Allied tanks such as the Sherman.The M10 3in Gun Motor Carriage was originally developed as a tank destroyer. It was based on the Sherman tank chassis but with less armor and a more powerful gun. By 1944, however, its 3in gun proved ineffectual against the most thickly armored German tanks such as the Panther and Tiger. As a result, by 1944, the US Army's M10 battalions were usually deployed in support of US infantry divisions to conduct direct-fire support. Essentially, the M10 became the US Army's principal assault gun in the 1944-45 ETO campaign, whether intended for this role or not.Widely deployed in roles their designers had not envisaged, these two armored fighting vehicles clashed repeatedly during the 11-month campaign that saw the Allies advance from Normandy to the heart of the Reich. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned artwork, this is the story of their confrontation at the height of World War II.
The T43 design represented the pinnacle of U.S. Army tank engineering of the late 1940s, with its cast elliptical hull and turret, Continental AV-1790 engine, cross-drive transmission, and torsion bar suspension. A range-finder and mechanical computer directed a powerful 120mm main gun in a novel electro-hydraulic turret, among other features. The heavy tank proved fairly popular with its crews, who above all respected the powerful armament it carried. Many challenges to the crewmen were taken on with a sense of pride. Typical was the job of the second loader to hand-ram both the projectile (positioned by the first loader at the breech) and the propellant cartridge into the chamber in a single movement, all within the confines of a narrow turret. The outbreak of war in Korea brought a rush order in December 1950 which led to a complete production run of 300 vehicles, considered sufficient for Army and Marine Corps requirements. As might have been expected from the rush to production, the T43E1 failed its initial trials at Ft. Knox, mostly for erratic gun controls and poor ballistic performance of the projectiles. A modification program (of over 100 discrepancies) resulted in the standardization of the T43E1 as the 120mm gun combat tank, M103 in 1956. After 1951, the Marine Corps alone retained confidence in the heavy tank program, investing its scarce funds in the improvements necessary to bring about its fielding after a hurried production run in midst of the 'tank crisis' of the year 1950-51. Without the Marine Corps' determination to bring the M103 to operational status, it seems clear that the 300 vehicles would have languished in storage before their eventual disposal. The correctness of the Marine Corps support of the M103 tank was in no small way acknowledged by the Army's borrowing of 72 M103A1 improved USMC tanks necessary for its single heavy tank battalion in Germany. No other weapon system, before the era of antitank missiles, could guarantee the destruction of the Russian heavies, which continued their service through the late 1960s. The eventual retirement of the M103 in 1972, over 20 years after manufacture and after 14 years of operational service, demonstrated the soundness of its engineering and fulfillment of its designed role. It may have been the unwanted 'ugly duckling' of the Army, which refrained from naming the M103 alone of all its postwar tanks. For the Marine Corps, it served the purpose defined for it in 1949 until the automotive and weapons technology of the United States could produce viable alternatives.
While the Pacific campaign is not well known as a theater for tank combat, the US Army deployed nearly a third of its tank battalions to the Pacific, and Japan was among the top five tank manufacturers during the war. The obscurity of Pacific tank battles largely hinged on the tactics used in the Pacific theater due to terrain. Tanks were generally used as infantry support weapons, and the terrain precluded the use of tanks in maneuver warfare that might have led to large scale tank-vs.-tank battles. This book begins by surveying the early tank battles in the Pacific between US and Japanese forces, starting with the first encounters in the Philippines in 1941 between US M3 Stuart light tanks and Japanese Type 95 tanks. Tank-vs.-tank action became more common in 1944 as both sides poured larger numbers of tanks into the combat zone. The largest Japanese tank attack of war took place in July 1944 on Saipan, but there were frequent tank encounters in the ensuing months on Guam, and Peleliu. The Philippines saw the largest Japanese tank deployment of the war, with the Japanese sending a tank division to Luzon in 1944. This led to extensive clashes with US army forces, sometimes pitting tank vs. tank, but often a mixture of tanks, infantry anti-tank weapons, and even self-propelled guns. The last two campaigns of the war on Iwo Jima and Okinawa saw tank use on the part of both sides, the Japanese finally concluding that "the fight against the US Army is a fight against his M4 tanks". This book will take a look at the two best tanks of the Pacific campaign. On the American side, the M4A3 Sherman medium tank was used by both the US Army and US Marine Corps. On the Japanese side, the Type 97-kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha was the best tank to see combat. This was a very uneven contest, which is the main reason that in 1944 on Luzon, the Japanese were so reluctant to deploy the Chi-ha against the Sherman and preferred to use them as dug-in pillboxes. The book illustrations will follow the usual Duel pattern with profile illustrations of the Type 97-kai Shinhoto Chi-ha and M4A3, views showing the ammunition of both types, interior illustrations showing the turret layout in both types, and a Battlescene showing the Type 97-kai in combat against US armor.
Step onto the battlefield and immerse yourself in the experience of real historic combat. Designed for the battlefields of Europe at the height of the Cold War, the M60 and T-62 were the premier combat tanks of their day. However, it was in the deserts of the Middle East that they finally met in battle. This new Duel title examines the design and development of these main battle tanks, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and describing and analyzing their performance on the battlefield during the Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the first Gulf War. Included are color photographs, cutaway artwork, and original illustrations by Richard Chasemore. It's a must-read for fans of the evolution of armored warfare.
From El Alemein through Sicily, Italy, Normandy, the Ardennes, and Germany, the Allied M7 Priest self-propelled howitzer and its Canadian/British Sexton 25 pdr version became iconic. It was based on the ubiquitous Grant/Sherman tank and was the most widely manufactured vehicle of its type in World War II, being used by all major Allied armies including the US, British, Canadian and Free French forces. Besides covering the basic Priest, this book also deals with the major derivative including the British/Canadian Sexton with 25 pdr, and other US Sherman derivatives such as the M12 155mm GMC. The Priest has been widely kitted over the years including the recent Dragon kits (1/35), two Academy 1/35 kits, an older Italeri 1/35 kit (re-released by Tamiya), and numerous small scale offerings including Matchbox, Italeri, etc. and has been an evergreen modeling subject.
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.
This fully illustrated study pits Germany's PzKpfw III tank against France's Somua S 35 in the vast armored battles that opened the campaign.The armor clashes in May 1940 were the biggest the world had yet seen, as the German advances of that period came to epitomize Blitzkrieg. Nonetheless the Wehrmacht's Panzer III was well matched by the French Somua S35; the two representing very different design philosophies and yet ranking among the best designs in the world at the time.
The Battle of France in 1940 involved the first large-scale tank-against-tank battles in history. The massive clashes at Stonne, Hannant, and Gembloux involved hundreds of tanks on both sides, yet have faded from memory due to the enormity of the French defeat. This book examines two of the premier opposing tanks of the Wehrmacht and the French Army, the German PzKpfw IV and the French Char B1 bis. With a complete history of the design, development, and deployment of these armored fighting vehicles, the story of these great battles is brought to life in a highly illustrated format.From the Trade Paperback edition.
As the Allies attempted to break out of Normandy, it quickly became apparent that there would be no easy victory over the Germans, and that every scrap of territory on the way to Berlin would have to be earned through hard fighting. This study concentrates on the ferocious battles between the German Panzer IV and US Sherman that were at the heart of this decisive phase of World War II. The two types were among the most-produced tanks in US and German service and were old enemies - having clashed repeatedly in the Mediterranean theater. Throughout their long service careers, both had seen a succession of technical developments and modifications, as well as an evolution in their intended roles - but both remained at the forefront of the fighting on the Western Front. Written by an expert on armoured warfare, this book invites the reader into the cramped confines of these armoured workhorses, employing vivid technical illustrations alongside archive and contemporary photography to depict the conditions for the crewmen within.
The patrol vehicles used by Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq vary quite dramatically between the theaters as well as amongst the Coalition members, and have been developed and upgraded to meet the demands of the deployment. Covering all the major Coalition nations, Leigh Neville continues his look at the elite forces deployed in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom with this analysis of their vehicles.Tracing the evolution of the vehicle types, from their historical precedents, through their designs to their operational developments, he discusses their advantages and disadvantages, along with their tactical employment. From the mine-protected vehicles used to counter the IED threat in Iraq, the use of Strykers as armored raiding platforms by the US Rangers, to the civilian vehicles adapted for military service by both Coalition troops and Private Military Contractors in the regions, this book uses rare in-theater photographs and color artwork to show the variety and inventiveness of the patrol vehicles being used in combat today.From the Trade Paperback edition.
A hotly-debated topic amongst tank buffs is of the relative merits of the Soviet and American tanks of World War II. Using recently revealed documents, Steven Zaloga sheds light on the crucial tank battles of the Korean War as the rival superpowers' finest tanks battled for supremacy. The Soviet-equipped North Korean Peoples Army initially dominated the battlefield with the seemingly unstoppable T34-85. As US tank battalions hastily arrived throughout the late summer and early autumn of 1950, the M26 Pershing took the fight to North Korea with increasing success.From the Trade Paperback edition.
American experience, from D-Day to dug-in Japanese defenders, went from British Crocodile to E4-7, USMC Satan, and the many POA-CWS (Pacific Area Operation-Chemical Warfare Section) flamethrower tank variants chronicled in this book.The US Army and Marine Corps experimented with a wide range of flame-thrower tanks through World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters. This book will examine early efforts in the US, the ill-fated attempt to adopted the British Crocodile for D-Day in Normandy, the adoption of the auxiliary E4-7 in the European Theater, and the use of British Crocodile flamethrower units in the ETO. Although the US Army deployment of flame-thrower tanks in the ETO was problematic at best, flamethrowers were much more widely used in the Pacific theater and became ubiquitous by 1945, including an entire Army flamethrower tank battalion on Okinawa in 1945, the largest single use of flamethrower tanks in World War II. This will cover the initial attempts at the use of auxiliary flamethrowers by both the US Army and Marine Corps in 1943, the standardized adoption of the Satan flamethrower tank by the Marines in 1944, the development of main gun flamethrowers by the Marines and US Army based on the POA-CWS (Pacific Area Operation-Chemical Warfare Section) designs, and the myriad other types tested in combat including the powerful LVT-4 design using Navy flamethrowers at Peleliu in 1944. Due to the extensive Japanese use of fortifications in the final year of the Pacific war, Flamethrower tanks became one of the most important solutions in American tactics.
The US Marine Corps formed six tank battalions in World War II which saw combat in some of the most varied and extreme conditions of the Pacific theater. The Marine tank battalions fought on small coral atolls such as Tarawa, in the fetid jungles of the south west Pacific including Guadalcanal, in the lush central Pacific islands of the Marianas such as Saipan and Guam, and on the volcanic deserts of the Bonin islands such as Iwo Jima. The tank equipment of the Marine Corps was essentially the same as that used by the US Army: the M3 and M5A1 light tanks, and the M4 Sherman medium tanks. But the conditions and the opponent forced the Marine Corps to adapt both in terms of technical and tactical innovations. The numerous island landings forced the development of novel landing equipment, especially deep wading equipment to get the tanks safely ashore. Japanese defensive tactics in 1943-44 put a premium on American use of flamethrowers and the development of a variety of flamethrower tanks on the M3 light tank chassis. Deadly Japanese close-infantry tactics forced the development of novel methods of tank protection including the use of wooden armor to defeat the use of magnetic anti-tank devices. This book will examine the Marine use of tanks in World War II and the tactics and technology that made their experiences so unique in the annals of tank warfare.