Panzer 38(t) Book Review
|Date of Review||November 2014||Title||Panzer 38(t)|
|Author||Steven J. Zaloga||Publisher||Osprey Publishing|
|Format||48 pages, softbound||MSRP (USD)||$17.95|
An excellent Czechoslovak light tank substantially contributed to Hitler's early Blitzkrieg conquests – and helped forge, among other things, the legendary reputation of Erwin Rommel's 7.Panzer "Ghost" Division during the 1940 fall of France.
Now author Steven J. Zaloga recaps the tough, versatile, reliable design in a handy little handbook from Osprey. Panzer 38(t) – number 215 in the publisher's popular "New Vanguard" series – outlines the whole terrific tale in just 48 pithy pages.
Germany's 1939 annexation brought Czechoslovakia's extensive armament industry – Europe's third largest – under Nazi control. The modern Ceskomoravska-Koben-Danek (CKD) LT 38 light tank proved noticeably superior to existing Wehrmacht PzKpfw I and II designs. Its powerful 37mm main armament rivaled that of larger PzKpfw III medium tanks. And it soon entered production as the Panzer 38(t).
Introductory notes summarize the Panzer 38(t)'s export-driven development and design – including early sales to Iran, Peru and Switzerland. Contents then segue to initial German modifications and service – before turning to wartime use in Poland, France and Russia, and its "decline" in 1943 Caucus combat.
But that didn't end Panzer 38(t) use. Examples continued in Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Swedish service. Germany retained the tank in second-line roles. Fortifications employed surplus turrets. And the chassis, the author reminds us, "remained in production throughout the war for a variety of self-propelled guns and tank destroyers". Czechoslovakia even tried introducing an improved version – the TNH 57 with widened hull, 57mm main gun and enlarged turret – for export during the early postwar years.
In typically first-rate fashion, Zaloga competently courses through all. Coverage includes principal LT 38 and Panzer 38(t) iterations and armament. Tables recap technical, variant and deployment data. Extended captions, sidebars and glossary admirably augment text. And a selected bibliography and index neatly wrap things up.
Period photos also illustrate LT 38 and Panzer 38(t) evolution. Richard Chasemore's superb color profiles include – where known – RAL paint matches and tactical markings notes. The artist's splendid cutaway drawings accurately illumine internal vehicle details. And his excellent action paintings skillfully capture Panzer 38(t)s in combat.
Make Zaloga's brilliant little book your introduction to this fascinating AFV.
My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!