Photo of the Day: Valentine Tank

Here are a few photos we took this past weekend while in Nokesville VA. You really have to see one of these Valentine tanks in person to appreciate just how small they are. The small size of this vehicle was accentuated by the fact that it was displayed next to a M3 Grant tank.

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Book Review: Pershing Vs Tiger Germany 1945 (Duel 80)

Book Review

Pershing vs Tiger: Germany 1945 (Duel) by Steven Zaloga

Osprey Publishing

Pershing VS Tiger is the 80th entry in the Osprey Duel series, and the eleventh authored by Steven Zaloga.  Several of his past Duel series titles have dealt with US versus German armor during the last year of the war, including Sherman vs Panther, Sherman vs Pz IV, M10 vs Stug III and Bazooka vs Panzer.  With this title, he addresses one of the very last contests between German and American armor, the handful of encounters between the US Pershing heavy tank and the heavy German “cats.”

The first thing worth noting is that the title of the book is perhaps a bit misleading.  The artwork on the cover depicts the US Pershing and a German Tiger I tank.  And while the book does describe a combat encounter involving these two types of vehicle, there is only one incident of this type.  The other examples involve other types of German armor, including a Panther, Nashorn, Pz IV, and possibly a Jagdpanther.  This is not surprising, since the number of Pershing tanks operating in the ETO in 1945 was very low.  As Zaloga points out, by March of 1945 there were only 20 Pershing tanks in the field.  It is no wonder that the number of tank vs tank clashes involving Pershing tanks can be related individually in one volume.

For those who have read previous Duel series books, the layout of this book will be familiar.  The first section of the book traces the design and development of the Tiger, Tiger II and the Pershing. This is followed by a technical description of each tank, focusing on crew layout, firepower, armor and mobility.  After this are chapters on the combatants and the strategic situation, describing the activities of the Tiger heavy tank battalions and their encounters, or more accurately, their lack of encounters with US forces in the ETO.  All this sets up the heart of the book, which is the descriptions of the various combats by Pershing tanks and German armor.  The book delivers on its title with a description of the duel at Elsdorf, in which a Pershing tank destroyed a German Tiger and several other German tanks in exchange for the loss of one Pershing tank named “Fireball.”

The book finishes up with an analysis chapter, focusing primarily on the Tiger tank.  For those invested in the idea that the Tiger was some sort of super-tank, this analysis will prover rather deflating.  Zaloga points out that Tiger units were relatively rare in the West, suffered from low readiness rates due to poor reliability and high maintenance demands and were generally less effective than the Tiger units in the East.  The Tiger II he refers to as “an extravagant waste in the West”.  Little final analysis is offered regarding the performance of the Pershing in the final chapter.  Zaloga notes that the number of Pershings in the field were so few, and the state of the German opposition so poor by this point in the war, that few lessons regarding the tank can be learned (for more on the combat record of the Pershing, check out Zaloga’s T-34-85 vs M26 Pershing: Korea 1950)

For those interested in US and German armor in the West 1944-45, this book is certainly worth picking up.  With this volume, Zaloga seems to have covered most of the well-known US and German tanks that faced each other after D-Day until the German surrender.   This volume may prove particularly useful for those looking for an antidote to the Tiger myth.

Book Alert: Panther

Osprey has released a new book by German author Thomas Anderson on the Panther tank, simply titled Panther.  This is a 224 page hardcover with photographs and illustrations.  Anderson has written several books on German WWII armor, including volumes on the Tiger, the Ferdinand and the Sturmgeschutz.  Oddly enough, this is the second hardcover that Osprey has released in the past few years on the Panther, in 2012 they published Panther: Germany’s quest for combat dominance by Michael Green.

Publisher’s Description:

The German Panther is one of the most famous, and greatest, tanks of World War II. Often considered the most elegant tank design of the war, it embodied a balance of firepower, armour protection, and mobility unmatched by any other tank of the period. This new study by German armour expert Thomas Anderson draws upon original German archival material to tell the story of the birth of the Panther in response to the Soviet tanks encountered in 1941. He then analyzes its success on the battlefield and the many modifications and variants that also came into play. Illustrated throughout with rare photographs and drawings, many of which have never been published in English before, this is a unique history of one of the most famous tanks of World War II.

Video: Unofficial High-Speed Tour of the Museum of American Armor

World of Tanks researcher Nicholas Moran recently posted a video on youtube of a quick tour of the Museum of American Armor at Long Island.

Swedish APC collides with train

Swedish media are reporting that a Pansarterrängbil 360 APC (also known as the Patria) was hit by a passenger train.  This accident happened during the Aurora 17 military exercise near Trosa, south of Stockholm.  Media reports indicate that three people in the military vehicle were injured, while one train passenger suffered minor injuries.  Photos below.

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Photo of the Day: Nokesville M4A1

We are back from our weekend at the big tank show in Nokesville VA.  One of our favorite items on display was this M4A1 Sherman tank.  According to the event organizers, this is the oldest Sherman tank in the world in running condition (the oldest in any condition is “Michael“, which is housed at Bovington.)  Note that this tank has the direct vision slits of the earliest model M4A1 tanks.  This tank was run on both days of the event, taking place in a re-enactment of a Marine assault on a fixed position.  We have to admit that we intentially stood behind this vehicle while it was being started just so we could be envelped by Sherman tank exhaust.

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Editors Note: Heading to Virginia to see some Tanks!

Tomorrow I am heading out to Nokesville VA to attend the Americans in Wartime 2017 Openhouse put on by the NMAW and VMMV.  I plan to be there for both days, Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th.  For those that are attending and want to say hi, look for the guy wearing a blue baseball cap that says “LST 393 Muskegon MI.”  I will most likely also be lugging around a video camera, tripod and microphone.  Assuming I get some good footage, I am aiming create the first original video by Tank and AFV News.com.  I’ll be checking email throughout the day, so feel free to contact me at the event at tanksonthebrain@gmail.com