Monday, August 10, 2009

Osprey Publishing, Duel Series
The last of the WWII Osprey books discussed here are from one of their newest style – a comparison of two different vehicles that fought each other: the M3 Medium Tank vs. the Panzer III and the Panther vs. the Sherman; these are my first experiences with this series. Each book details both tanks; the M3/PzIII features fighting in the Kasserine Pass and the Panther/Sherman book discusses fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. 80 pages, with multiple black and white photos, over 10 color drawings, 2-3 color maps, bibliography and index.
Each book switches back and forth from one chapter to the next discussing the design and development of each tank (with neat drawings of the different rounds or internal turret design for each AFV) before giving an overview of the strategic situation in Tunisia or Belgium – just enough to whet your appetite for more information! The book then goes back to reporting about each tank’s specifications, training, tactics and organization (even detailing the daily life of a WWII tanker) before getting back to the respective battles. In M3/PzIII there are even two personal viewpoints from two living combatants on each side – a very cool touch; Panther/Sherman compares the concept of “tank aces”. The final chapters of the books review the outcome of the battles, compares the two tanks, tactics and battle outcome. The final analysis of the M3 and PzIII was that the two were very closely matched, with their specific advantages and limitations – in the end, it was the skills of the individual crews that made the difference and at this stage of the war, likely giving the advantage to the more seasoned German crews. The analysis of the comparison of Panther vs. Sherman was much more complicated with the clear advantage going to the tank that spotted, engaged and hit the other. The myth that it took 5 Shermans to knock out a Panther was clearly debunked (though if anyone has seen the difference in size between these two tanks, they could understand the mistake – the Panther is truly an impressive and BIG tank!)
Because of the specific book focus, there are no color plates that show the tanks and camouflage colors, traditionally found in Osprey books (there are several New Vanguard books for each tank). Each book has a little for every reader – technical nuts and bolts, design and development, tactics, the actual fighting and neat stories. They were fun to read and I am looking forward to reading more of this new series.
Price: $17.95


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