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Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis: France 1940

Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis: France 1940 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2012 Title Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis: France 1940
Author Steven J. Zaloga Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2011 ISBN 9781849083782
Format 80 pages, softcover MSRP (USD) $17.95


Don’t let the title fool you: this brilliant little book remains a vital primer on Germany’s 1940 defeat of France – not just on two participating tank designs, France’s Char B1 bis and German’s PzKpfw IV.

Despite the generally superior number and quality of its tank designs, France faced serious logistical and doctrinal drawbacks.  Germany, by contrast, enjoyed major tactical and organizational advantages – and leveraged those into stunning strategic success.

Steven Zaloga shows how.  He superbly sets the stage with a preface on divergent doctrinal developments – followed by a convenient chronology, design notes, and technical remarks on both vehicles.  Text next turns to “combatants” – the effects of crew vehicle positions, training, and unit organization on battlefield performance.

After summarizing strategic circumstances, coverage hits crescendo with the author’s thrilling account of the “Duel at Stonne” in northeast France.  The town changed hands an amazing 17 times in two days of fierce fighting.  And that brutal action symbolically distilled two decades of French and German tank warfare development.

Zaloga’s splendid study concludes with instructive statistical analyses and bibliographic comments.  Richard Chasemore’s marvelously informative illustrations, photos, sidebars, charts, and maps supplement text.

I simply couldn’t put Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis down.  Admirably indexed, this awesome effort deserves a place in every armor enthusiast’s library.

Rabidly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!