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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and clear, 8 Oct 2008
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This review is from: Panzer Divisions: The Blitzkrieg Years 1939-40 (Battle Orders) (Paperback)
Although this is a perennially popular topic for WWII authors Pier Paolo Battistelli (who has written the earlier Battle Orders title on the Afrika Korps as well as the follow-up to this book detailing Panzer Divisions on the Eastern Front) has managed to produce an informative and useful synthesis in only 96 pages.

He starts with a description of the development of the Panzerwaffe in the early 1930s. As with all sections of the book this is illustrated with well chosen photographs and descriptive captions. Sometimes it is difficult to make out some of the details mentioned in the captions due to the small size of many photographs, but this leaves more room for the text! The unit organisation section is the core of the book, showing the structure and development of the early panzer divisions and their component parts in September '39 and May '40. There are many clear and large line charts, block diagrams and other illustrations which show the organisation well. You will find yourself becoming good at recognising the silhouettes of different tanks and armoured cars. Note that the author always prefers the German terms to English (zug rather than platoon, leichte rather than light) but there is a clear glossary and, again, it's all educational! As well as providing general information, brief overviews of all ten Panzer divisions formed prior to May 1940 are given.

The section on weapons and equipment does not go into any detail (the main summary table is of French tanks rather than German) but this information is readily available from other sources.

After a quick look at the command and communications structures of the divisions, we move onto the combat operations section. Bar one action on the River Bzura in Poland the other five examples are all during the May 1940 campaign in France. Here the maps the good and detailed, maybe too detailed (although lacking scales which I find annoying), but the accompanying text can be difficult to relate to the maps. Maybe a more detailed look at two or three encounters would have been a better use of space and resources.

Despite these minor issues, I wholeheartedly recommend this book as one of the best examples of the Battle Orders series. I well certainly be buying the follow-up when it becomes available and I look forward to further works from this author; hopefully a companion volume on the Italian army!
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Panzer Divisions: The Blitzkrieg Years 1939-40 (Battle Orders)
Panzer Divisions: The Blitzkrieg Years 1939-40 (Battle Orders) by Pier Paolo Battistelli (Paperback - 10 Nov 2007)
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