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Weapons of the Tankers

Weapons of the Tankers American Armor in World War II Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2006 Title Weapons of the Tankers
Author Harry Yeide Publisher Zenith Press
Published 2006 ISBN 0-7603-2329-8
Format 128 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $24.95

Review

Zenith Books has been publishing a series of titles aimed at filling the void between too little information and too much. Take for example their M1 Abrams at War - this title filled a gap between the hobbyist picture books showing the tank in action and the huge volumes of technical and operational detail that goes beyond the interests of the average reader.

In this new title, the author fills an interesting gap of knowledge for the average reader. Where typical titles of this genre would dive into specific details and doctrine, the stage is set to answer the questions of why US armored forces were set up the way they were.

After World War I, the US Army was subjected to severe budget cuts and its fledgling armored forces were all but forgotten. When the US Army saw the power of the blitzkrieg and Germany's advances in armor in the days prior to the US entry into the war, a fast-paced development of new weapons and tactics was undertaken to keep the US armed forces viable. In these early days, the general over infantry forces was pressing for the doctrine of tank versus tank engagements.

The counter position was for properly equipped infantry units to deal with the enemy tanks while freeing the US armor to exploit weaknesses in enemy lines. The latter position prevailed and a family of tank destroyers were developed for the purpose of engaging enemy tanks. The distinguishing difference between the main gun of a tank destroyer and a normal tank is muzzle velocity. The anti-tank gun had a higher muzzle velocity to kill tanks whereas the high-explosive rounds used by the tanks to weaken enemy positions required a medium muzzle velocity.

The author effectively sets the stage for each theater of operations and the weapons used in each theater. The title is very nicely illustrated with many period photos in color and black & white, as well as a few color photos of museum pieces. Many of these photos I've not seen before, and I was rather fascinated by the DD version of the Sherman with its dual propellers and high flotation skirt to swim ashore.

The major topics in this title include:

  • History of the Armored Battalions
  • Light Tanks
  • Medium Tanks
  • Amphibious Tanks
  • Special and Variants
  • Assault Guns and Mortars
  • Tanks Crew
  • Supporting Elements

This is a well-written book that will provide a unique look into the weapons of US tankers and how these fit into the overall picture. This title is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!

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