Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
Well worth having
on 17 April 2014
This book is very good, and marred only by a few errors. David Higgins provides a very good technical survey, a very readable account of these vehicles’ use in combat, organisational details, and gun performance data – so often overlooked by writers yet the ‘business end’ of any AFV. The artwork is excellent, and the comments about camouflage while concise are accurate and helpful to modellers. I particularly like the author’s depth of knowledge the problems of armour plate manufacture that bedevilled German industry in the later war years, his correct understanding of German terminology and – for a change in an Osprey publication – correct German spelling. Similarly, although David is an American citizen, the book is written with British spelling which I think is only right for a book published here. My only gripe is the unfortunate use by many authors, not just David, of the imprecise term ‘HVAP’ (High Velocity Armour Piercing) instead of the equally concise but more descriptive APCR (armour piercing composite rigid) or – for British wartime guns – APDS (armour piercing discarding sabot).
The errors are as follows. Page 29 states that the German Pzgr 40 APCR round “had a smaller explosive charge” than Pzgr 39 APCBC/HE round. In point of fact, APCR and APDS shot had no explosive fillings; they were inert as “shot” as opposed to “shell” implies, and fitted only with a tracer to aid gunnery. A cavity filled with explosive would have been self-defeating, as it would have weakened the structure which already had enough impact stresses to overcome, and a fuse would be similarly challenged. Moreover, any HE filling would be lighter than solid metal, thereby reducing the weight of the projectile and so degrading long range performance even further, which in APCR shot at least was already badly affected by the adverse light weight-to-large calibre ratio. On this page, David has not translated ‘Stahlkern’ (steel core) or ‘Weicheisen’ (soft iron, or sometimes taken to mean pure iron).
The lower photo on page 34 is incorrectly captioned, as the tank is a later production M4A2 75mm Sherman, and not an M4A2 (76) W [76mm gun with wet stowage] as stated. The appliqué armour on the hull side near the front to protect the ammunition bins is distinctive, as is the turret shape and the split cupola lid and the handrail in front of this. Finally the turret itself is the 75mm pattern, which was both smaller and rounder than the T 23 turret used on the 76mm Shermans.
The upper photo caption on page 51 is also incorrect; the standard towing vehicle for the 88mm FlaK 18 or 36 was the 8-tonne SdKfz 7, and not the 12-tonne SdKfz 8 as stated. On page 59, the photo caption is also incorrect; the vehicle in the left forewground is a SdKfz 250 alt light halftrack, and not the larger SdKfz 251 medium APC as stated. The other vehicle to its left is not an SdKfz 7 8-tonne prime mover, but rather the smaller SdKfz 10 1-tonne halftrack used to tow the smaller anti-tank guns.
On page 73, the gun performance data gives no figure for the complete Pzgr 40 APCR round, and most sources fail to quote it. However, at least one source states that the complete round weighed 19.9 kg. Other sources give slightly different projectile and complete round weights, and the 88mm penetration data quoted in other sources often gives a higher performance, though David's are probably more realistic values.
Overall, a fine effort.