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on 19 September 2011
This is a well set out book which gives very good information on these two combat types. I found the accounts of a part of WWII with which I was unfamiliar very interesting. The description of the internals of the two vehicles and their armour was very useful. However, there was little actual analysis of combat between the two rival vehicles and the section on statistics was particularly weak. Some picture descriptions were doubtful: can bombs/artillery really blow a tank on its side without leaving a large crater? The details of the effects of the HE round from the 122 mm on armour needed more than the speculation supplied- the effect would be highly variable with the fuzing time, which was not discussed. Overall I thought the book was fascinating and a good read but didn't give me all the information the that title suggested.
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on 3 August 2013
Another Sprey that does not deliver what it says on the tin. Poor editing, and a poor grasp of ballistic data spoil the book and belie the title:

P. 5, photo caption, the vehicle is pristine because it is a photo of a preserved King Tiger at Munsterlager in Germany, and has not "just been produced". The absence of Zimmerit should have provided the author with a clue. Although "Königstiger" can refer to the Bengal Tiger, there is no specific geographical implication in the word; in German it is also referred to as the King Tiger, the Bengal Tiger or the Indian Tiger. Consequently, I think Bengal Tiger is not a particularly good translation.

P. 6, lower right photo caption, the "disabled" IS-2 has clearly been knocked out and then examined by German troops; it is part of a sequence of similar photographs.

P. 7, lower left photo caption, it might be worth stating that `Pilz' translates as "mushroom", or "fungus".

P. 12, photo caption, the author has also omitted to state that the vehicle is fitted with the narrower transportation tracks ready for rail shipment; this is why the side skirts are missing.

P. 23, the use of the term `HVAP' should be discouraged as it fails to identify precisely what type of projectile is being discussed. In this case (PzGr 40) the term APCR is more appropriate, and accurate, but HVAP could also refer to APDS or APCNR ammunition, hence the need to be more precise. The author implies, and a less knowledgeable reader would not know otherwise, that HVAP refers exclusively to APCR projectiles. The phrase "Hartkernor [sic] hard core" should read "Hartkern or hard core". Further, APCR was an inert projectile; there was NO explosive filling as the necessary cavity would have lightened and weakened the piercing core, thus degrading performance. Given the normal stresses caused by the terrific impact when a target is struck, boring a cavity in such projectiles would render the whole exercise pointless. The sectioned drawing to the right of projectile # 3 is of the HEAT round. "Weicheisen" actually means `soft iron', not iron.

P. 24, in discussing the Tiger II's firepower and armour it might be worth adding that after a spate of ammunition explosions the number of round stowed in the turret was greatly reduced.

P. 26, table, the penetration of the HEAT round would be the same at all ranges and hits beyond 500 metres were easily attainable with this weapon, even if less likely than with kinetic energy projectiles.

P. 44, note that the Tigerfibel only contains technical data on the Tiger I; there was no Tigerfibel for the Tiger II, and with respect to gunnery and tactics the engagement ranges for the latter would have been greater in any case on the eastern front. "Sofortangriffe" is more accurately translated as "immediate attacks". "Angriff nach Vorbereitung" translates as "attack after preparation"

P. 53, photo caption, there is no evidence that this IS-2 was destroyed by a hand-held AT weapon; it could just as easily have been from a kinetic energy round fired by an enemy vehicle.

P. 74, photo caption, again, "Pilz" could be translated as "mushroom" or "fungus".
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on 17 October 2011
I have always been very interested in these 2 tanks, and this is why I got the book soon after it was released. I have to agree with Ian Holloway -good history, little data-. To start with the positive things, the diagrams and photos were great. The history of both vehicles is well covered but some statements can be debated. The T-55 was developed from T-44, and the Leopard-1 had not much in common with Tiger-II's philosophy. The IS-2 armament debate is oversimplified: with the 100mm the Rate of Fire (ROF) was higher and more ammunition could be carried, but the difference when installed in the IS-2 turret was not high (28 rounds vs. 29). The penetrations were calculated for Soviet steel. When deployed in combat, the 122mm worked very well against German steel, which had become more fragile since mid-1944.

There is little comparison in the book, and it's not very specific. Tiger-II did not change very much during its production, but this was not the case with the IS-2. More emphasis should be placed on this because the 1944 version had better protection, improved optics and a higher ROF. The steel was subjected to an improvement program to eliminate defects. The hardness data in the book does not specify for which model it is. Also, Tiger-II numbers in the Eastern front built up slowly. The first were sent to SPzAb 501 in June (and not March/April as the book seems to imply in page 5). In fact, Tiger-I outnumbered II until January 1945.

It was nice that the author analysed Operation Sonnenwende as other accounts focus on Sandomierz/Kielce/Hungary. However, there aren't really any combat encounters and there is not much detail. In any case it should be remembered that these books are only 80 pages, so it's hard to go into detail without overextending.
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on 24 May 2016
a really interesting book. but as usual no duels between the two.but a very well written subject.
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on 8 October 2011
Ok, so I like most things 'Osprey'.
But, only because of their high standard, deep research and good quality. This book is no exception, but not yet 5 stars.
Why?, you might ask. Well, I just feel I missed that last extra. But I guess that in a 'smallish' book, space is limited. Especially trying to describe and compare two tanks.
In that it succeeds admirably and if you are at all interested, buy it, no dissapointments here.
If you are looking for more depth, new information or photo's, well...., still buy it. But then only for the stated qualities and a good read, and next buy the 'New Vanguard' book(s).
Enjoy, I did.
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on 25 July 2016
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on 26 September 2011
I was disappointed (deceived ?) by what the title entitled to. I expected more of an action account with veterans' experiences and testimonies. I thought I'd get the feel of what it was like to serve in one of these two emblematic machines.

Instead I found myself amidst the obscure meanders of operation "Sonnenwende". My interest in the Tiger II and its opponent quickly dissolved into the encirclement of Arnswalde and its disencirclement.
The expected and heralded tank duel is replaced by tank corps battles, Germanic corps against Guards corps, attacks and counter-attacks.
I do not see how General Wenck's tactics and the confrontation between King Tigers and IS-2s corroborate.

The choice of photos is modest to say the least. Also I do not see the relation between the title of the book and the publication of three photos depicting "Panzerknacker" combat techniques. What's more, against T-34s.

Four stars is generous in my view. Four not to encourage the author to keep up his standards but to ameliorate them in respect to avid but nonetheless demanding readers.

Bon courage.
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on 26 February 2015
This 'duel' suffers a bit from lack of comparison between the two tanks - which is what a 'duel' book should be all about! I would have liked to learn more about the pros and cons of both designs: was the IS-2's diesel a better design choice than the Tiger's gas engine, how come the substantially smaller IS-2 could carry a bigger gun (I think) than the huge Tiger, how come it was more reliable, and so on. A mere listing of the techical data of each tank can also be found on the internet.
That being said, this is still a fairly interesting booklet which is enjoyable if only because of the extreme beauty of the Tiger II - what a gorgeous, elegant tank that was - especially when compared to the decidedly ugly IS-2.
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on 28 August 2011
I gave this book four stars for Mr Higgins provides a lot of useful information in this tiny sub 80 page package but slipped on providing adequate coverage of a one on one nature. I learned more about these two impressive tanks than I did from my 600 page encyclopedia. The author also chose well on the overall operational history section. Though I can disappointingly recount only two brief examples of one on one battle actions between these two rivals, the author compensates, if your predilection is to the operational, with his centerpiece example Operation Solstice which pitted the Pz Abt 503 against the Soviet 11th Guard Tank Brigade. The author also provides profiles of several key tankers of this late period.

This book has the same ingredients as the others in the Duel Series. In the introduction, a brief history of tanks starting from 1920s is given before moving on to a two page war chronology tailored to these two tanks. The key chapters follow that includes Design and Development and Technical Specifications where you really learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each tank. I particularly liked the design and development phase where engineers try to improve on existing technology in building these critical weapons. The Tiger II had a number of small but important improvements over its predecessor that gave it potentially better durability though toward the end of the war when Germany's supply of chromium and molybdenum was scarce negated these improvements.
Comparing the different tank and ammo specification sheets you will learn that the Tiger was a larger, heavier, more lethal machine than the IS-2 and despite having a smaller gun and lighter shell had a greater kill and penetration range. There is a comparison chart showing penetration vs distance out to two KM and the Tiger had the advantage at every interval.
You will also learn about armor protection and metallurgy, gun parameters, ammunition characteristics, gunsights and targeting procedures, communications, tactics and training. The Tiger also had the advantage in loading and firing times. The interior illustrations of each tank were also interesting and shows the cramp quarters, especially in the IS-2.
Other differences include: the Tiger II like its predecessors was a complicated, expensive machine that took many man-hours to build. The IS-2 like the T-34 was build for simplicity and ruggedness and high production numbers. In the short time period that the IS-2 was produced, three times the number were built than the Tigers I and II combined.

The last half of the book deals with battle history of the combatants and its introduction covers the poor Strategic Situation Germany was facing at this late stage in the war. Germany and its forces were in a confused, poorly supplied state and was no longer capable of having a prolonged, strategic offensive. The battle overview begins with the Soviets sweeping through Poland and fighting for Pomerania to get to the Oder River. The center piece to this battle history is Guderian's plan to have the 11th SS PzA counter-attack and close the gap in the line while destroying 2nd GTA.

If you have read "The Roer River Battles" or any of Mr Higgins' many articles, you know he has a talent for conciseness and providing a lot of information in a small package. Its no different here. In a relatively few pages you will know the highlights of the Soviet's advance to the Oder and the feeble attempts by Germany to stop the enemy with this operation. Operation Solstice potentially was a good plan to drive south through Arnswalde toward Kustrin to encircle the 2nd GTA but the Germans weren't strong enough at this stage to succeed but it did cause the Soviets to pause their advance to regroup. The author explains this and more in Aftermath. There are a couple of color maps to show the dispositions and axes of attack for this operation.
In addition to the maps, there are good photos, illustrations of the tanks and the shells used. There is also a two page action scene which was very good. The book closes with a good Bibliography and Index.

The author provides a lot of useful information on each tank, showing strengths and weaknesses and though there is only brief exposure to direct battle action on a tank to tank basis, the author builds a credible operational overview that includes units using these tanks. Perhaps the author misjudged by his lack of one on one action but his coverage of Operation Solstice is an important part of histology. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this particular combination of information and freely recommend it.
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on 21 April 2014
this series of books is very well made and gives an appreciation between the various models of the same tanks categories editions “OSPREY” had a good idea by publishing this category of book
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