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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating account of Otto Carius's career, 29 April 2007
This review is from: Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius (Stackpole Military History Series) (Paperback)
"Tigers in the Mud" is a wonderful volume written by Otto Carius on his military career during WWII, mostly his action as commander of a company of Tigers(Tiger I). Most of the action takes place on the Eastern Front against the Russians although there is a brief excerpt against the Americans where he commanded Jadgtigers.

His accounts of the the individual actions is very interesting as well as the atmosphere of being surrounded by reliable comrades. Throughout he describes his interaction with men he had to rely upon and their deep comradeship. He doesn't fail to mention some people who really had no idea of what they were doing or those who did but simply couldn't get on with the men under their command. He also points out some of the aspects of military action as practised by the Germans and the Russians. Whereas there were never very many Tigers available at any time, and so their use was carefully orchestrated so that losses were kept to a minimum, the Russians tended to throw T-34's into action quickly and without concern as to losses. It demonstrates why he had so much success fighting the Russians in comparison to their success against his tanks. Nonetheless he never fails to say when things went awry due to basic mistakes in comand or just simple errors during combat.

It also becomes clear that even in late 1943 and early 1944 it was still possible for the Luftwaffe to maintain air superiority on the Eastern front. The kind of massed bombing carried out by the US and Britain in the west was never practised by the Russians to the same extent even though the size of their airforce was greatly superior to the Germans. Mind you the Russians never had access to the superb P-51 Mustang whereas the Germans had the Focke Wulf 190.

It was obvious that German tanks were generally superior to the Russian models, except the later JS-1's and IIs, and provided they were used properly i.e. taking into account their problems with transmission, road wheels/transport etc they would almost always defeat larger numbers of the enemy. Carius knew how to use his Tigers, as well, he knew how to cooperate with infantry and knew all of his company tank commanders well. It is through this kind of understanding he was able to have so many successes against larger numbers of Russian T-34s. I certainly have no problem believing that he could knock out 10 T-34s with a single Tiger.

It is important to understand that Carius took the initiative at the right moment or whenever he was able to given the limitations of supply and orders from above. He attempted as much as possible to make use of the element of surprise and it is this which helped him during his destruction of the 17 Russian tanks in the village of Malinava.

Throughout the text Carius never blew his own trumpet, the actions are described matter of factly and it is clear that he wished to make sure people such as Kerscher and "The Graf" got the accolades they deserved. His meeting with Himmler is also informative in terms of the man's character.

All and all an excellent book.
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Location: Manchester, Lancashire, UK

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