Book Review: Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War

Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War

By Aleksei Isaev

Helion & Company

The first thing potential readers may notice about this book is the subtitle, which proclaims the 1941 battle of Dubno to be the greatest tank battle of WWII.  To those familiar with the history of the Second World War, this might cause some confusion.  Ask the average WWII fan to name a tank battle and you will probably get replies such as Kursk, Alamein, or The Bulge.  But Dubno?  It’s probably fair to say most casual readers haven’t even heard of this battle, let alone know that it was one of the largest tank battles of the war.  Fortunately, Russian historian Aleksai Isaev tries to correct this situation in his new book, Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War.

Before we get into the content of the book, let’s start with a description of the book itself.  This is a 244 page hardcover volume.  The book is surprisingly heavy due to the dense, high quality paper used.  The paper texture is very smooth to the touch and provides good photo reproduction quality for the several image galleries found in the book.  The galleries consist primarily of images of tanks and also pictures of some of the commanders who play a part in the battle.  The book uses footnotes rather than endnotes and contains a rather useful series of appendices, a bibliography and an index.

This book was originally written in Russian and translated into English by Kevin Bridge.  The translation reads fairly well, although every so often a sentence will come off a bit clunky.  Whether this is due to the original text or to the translation is hard to say.  One translation error that jumped out at us was the mention of Western researcher “Thomas Yentz.”  Those well read on German armor will of course recognize this person as Thomas Jentz.  The publisher provides a disclaimer at the start of the book noting that the translation has kept partisan statements such as “our tanks” and “our aircraft” in the text.  This is a Russian book written by a Russian author and as such, it focuses much more on the Russian perspective of the battle than the German.

The text of the book is relatively straight forward, starting with a description of forces on both sides of the battle forces at the onset of Operation Barbarossa.  The chain of events from the launch of the German invasion on June 22 up to the Dubno battle a week later are explained with a good deal of detail.  A few maps are provided in the text, although readers may want to get a more detailed map of their own to prevent getting lost in the various details of unit movements and dispositions.  For those looking for individual accounts of combat or Steven Ambrose style history, this book will be quite dry and unrewarding.  For those looking for a detailed operational level description of events with analysis, this book should prove enjoyable.

The book ends with a conclusion offering an overview of the events and some analysis explaining why things turned out the way they did.  Isaev provides several reasons for why the Soviets lost this battle, primarily lack of experience and training, poor communication and poor unit organization compared to their German adversary.  One other factor that seems to crop up continuously in the description of the fighting is a lack of proper artillery support for Soviet armored units due to a lack of suitable prime movers.

Throughout the text the author regularly emphasizes certain points that he sees as important for having been misinterpreted or left out of Soviet era histories.  However, since most Western readers will not be familiar with these older histories, these points by the author may seem a bit confusing.  One thing not addressed in great detail in this book is the issue of why this battle, as large as it was, is so little known.  For the answer to that question, one needs to take a dive into the world of post war Soviet historiography.  And while this book avoids that topic, the next book in our review pile fearlessly plunges into it. (The Battle of Kursk: Controversial and Neglected Aspects by Valeriy Zamulin by Valeriy Zamulin – expect the review later next week.)

For those interested in learning more about this battle, we would easily give this book a recommendation, provided people understand this is a pretty information dense book.  Those looking for some light reading should go elsewhere.  This volume is one of several Russian language WWII histories that Helion & Company have brought over to the English reading public.  We commend them for doing so and hope the keep it up.

Forces Network: AVRE versus quad bike

Here is a fun story and video from showing a British Army AVRE destroying a quad bike left by by riders illegally trespassing on Salisbury Plain.  Oddly, the title of the piece refers to the new British Army Terrier, although the vehicle in the video is a Trojan ARVE.  Click on the image below to go to the page and view the video.


Forces Network: British Army Terrier Rips Up Quad Bike!

The MoD found a quad bike left by illegal off-roaders on Salisbury Plain, and reacted in the best possible way; by crushing it with a terrier.

Operation Aston, in partnership with Wiltshire Council, will show no mercy when dealing with trespassers on the military training ground.

The 147 square mile area has been described as a ‘hotspot’ for off-road activity

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) tweeted that it had “exercised” its “right to crush it”.

The operation was organised after the MoD said there had been a “massive increase in off-roaders on motorcycles and 4X4 vehicles” intruding on MoD land “which was both dangerous and illegal”.

The area is restricted to the public, with some areas completely cordoned off due to the nature of the activities the army practice there.

To make sure that this was a complete write-off, it gets crushed several times, ensuring it is reduced to scrap.

Perhaps the off-roaders will now think twice before taking a ride on Salisbury Plain!

Book Alert: New Issue of ARMOR available

Armor summer 2017The Summer issue of ARMOR magazine is available for download at the eArmor website. According to the cover, the theme of this issue is “Operationalizing Cross-Domain Maneuver” (is “operationalizing” a real word?)  Anyhow, those interested in tank hardware may find the article Cordoba Cats: Ejercito de Tierra’s Leopard 2E Main Battle Tank, which looks at the Leopard 2 tanks of Spain, to be worth checking out.

Download the Summer 2017 issue of ARMOR here.

AAV-7 Catches Fire, Six Marines in Critical Condition

Stars and Stripes is reporting that six Marines are in critical condition after an AAV-7 caught fire during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton.

6 Marines In Critical Condition After Camp Pendleton Training Accident


3608738-840x420Six Marines are in critical condition and another six are in serious condition after their amphibious-assault vehicle caught fire Wednesday morning while training at Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps said.

Fifteen Marines assigned to the 1st Marine Division at the southern California base were injured in the incident, and eight of those were evacuated to the burn center at University of California San Diego Health, a 1st Marine Division statement said. Of those eight, three are listed as critical and five as serious.

Four Marines were sent to the University of California Irvine Medical Center, the statement said. Three of those are critical and the other is in serious condition.

One Marine has been taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and is in stable condition, the statement added. Two Marines are being treated at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton with minor injuries.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which happened on land, but authorities were investigating, said 1st Lt. Paul Gainey, a division spokesman. The Marines were conducting a combat readiness evaluation as part of scheduled battalion training when the incident happened about 9:33 a.m. local time.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families as they receive medical care,” Gainey said.

An amphibious-assault vehicle, or AAV-7, is a 30-ton, armored vehicle designed to carry Marines and their equipment from Navy amphibious-assault ships onto land and into combat. The tracked vehicles, known to Marines as “amtracks,” feature a large boat hull-shaped front end that helps them maneuver through water. They can carry up to 28 Marines at a time.


Texas Attorney Purchases Sherman Tank from French Museum Auction

Fox 26 Houston is reporting that A&M regent and trial attorney Tony Buzbee of Houston Texas has purchased an M4 Sherman tank in running condition.


As could be expected, little detail about the tank is provided in the TV news piece.  This particular tank was part of the collection belonging to the Normandy Tank Museum which closed it’s doors last year.  The collection was auctioned off, including two Sherman tanks, twp Stuart Light tanks, a M24 light tank and many other vehicles.  This Sherman tank is an M4A4 which was restored by the Normandy Museum to running condition, although with a Ford GAA engine rather than the A-57 Chrysler multi-bank engine usually found in the A4 variant.  This vehicle also sports what appears to be the all metal T49 style track, which tended to be less common than the rubber block style track.  The T49 track was more commonly found on Sherman tanks in the Pacific or in Italy where the terrain and/or climate were considered inappropriate for standard rubber block tracks.  The M4A4 Sherman variant was generally not found in US Army service as most of them were given to the UK as Lend Lease material.  In British service it was known as the Sherman V.  Given that this vehicle is a M4A4, it is quite possible this tank saw service with UK forces during the war, only to be repainted years later as a vehicle of the US 2nd Armored Division.

For those that wish to read the description of this tank given by the auction company, the brochure for the Normandy Tank Museum auction can be read here.

If anyone knows any more information about the history of this particular tank, please do so in the comments section!


Photo of the Day: Luchs loading fail

This photo shows an accident involving the only running German Luchs light tank in the world.  This vehicle is from the collection at Samur and was recently restored.


Source: yuripasholok.livejournal

AFV News from Around the Web (Historic Edition)

Here are a handful of recent news articles about historic armor.  Click on the headline to read the full article.


The Washington Post – A battered World War II hero of Bastogne gets a new home, and a museum built around it

Cobra-King-335w (1)The old battle tank arrived at 10:15 Thursday morning, covered in a black tarp and chained to the bed of tractor-trailer.  The construction site near Fort Belvoir went quiet for a moment as the truck backed in. And when they pulled away the tarp, the steel hide still bore the gouges and holes from enemy gunfire in 1944 and ’45.  This was “Cobra King,” a hallowed, 38-ton U.S. Army legend that during the World War II Battle of the Bulge bulled its way through German lines and was first to relieve the besieged defenders of Bastogne, Belgium.


Newsday – Tanks come alive in Museum of American Armor mobile display

imageThe field outside the Museum of American Armor in Old Bethpage turned into a vintage battlefield Saturday, as World War II-era tanks rumbled past hundreds of spectators in the museum’s largest-ever mobile display.  Bernard Fradkin, 85, of Westbury, had seen only one of the models on display Saturday — a Sherman tank — in combat, when he was an infantryman in the Korean War.  But he recalled other vehicles from World War II movie-theater newsreels he watched as a kid.  “To see our American boys riding on the tanks — it brings back memories,” Fradkin said, referring to museum volunteers dressed in vintage Army uniforms.


News & Citizen – Some collect stamps, others tanks

59934b61801ed.imageJohn Vetter of Glover looks forward all year to showing off his collection of eight to 10 military tanks at the Stowe Antique and Classic Car Meet.  During the weekend, he’ll drive his M3A1 Stuart tank from 1942 around the field at a crawl, to the amazement of adults and children. Some salute; others point; many snap photos of Vetter and his platoon of friends, who help him crew it.  They even enter the tank in the annual vintage fashion show, sporting their 1940s military garb, although first place eluded them this year.


Thrillist – How They Get Military-Grade, Ready-To-Smash Tank for Big Movies

tmg-article_main_wideWithout people like Alex King, your favorite action movies might look a little bare.  “A lot of people don’t know my job exists,” King says. “They watch a movie, and they just think all the cars turn up, stunts drive everything, and it’s all fine.”  He’s a picture vehicle coordinator — the person who equips directors with the cars, trucks, and even tanks they need. The 46-year-old industry veteran has done so on more than a dozen projects, including The Bourne Ultimatum, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His most recent gig? Wonder Woman, for which he helped build the Ehrhardt armored car that gets obliterated.

From the Vault: The Rarden Cannon

Today we present an article from the Jan-Feb 1974 issue of ARMOR magazine looking at the British Rarden cannon.  The Rarden gun was introduced in the early 1970’s and  would go on to be one of the most important pieces of ordnance in British armored formations, being the primary armament of the FV510 Warrior IFV, as well as reconnaissance vehicles Fox, Scimitar and Sabre.  The author of this piece, F. W. A. Hobart, is known primarily as a writer of books on small arms.  While still in service with UK forces, the Rarden is considered outdated and is slated to be replaced by a 40mm weapon.  The article is posted below as individual images.  For those wanting to view the Jan-Feb 1974 issue of ARMOR, click here.


Book Alert: Patton’s Juggernaut: The Rolling 8-Ball 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division

This month saw the release of a new book by retired general and WWII veteran Albin F Irzyk titled Patton’s Juggernaut: The Rolling 8-Ball 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division.  Irzyk, who turned 100 years old earlier this year, is a well known figure to those interested in US Armor history.  He has appeared in numerous TV documentaries and has authored several books about his experiences as a young officer in the 4th Armored Division during WWII.

Publisher’s Description:

This is the biography, not of an individual but of a small military unit. The life span of this unit was extremely brief – less than three years. It began on September 10th, 1943 and ended on May 15th, 1946, when it ceased to exist. It is about the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division.

Combat was the destiny of this Battalion. It was created as a Combat Battalion. It was organized primarily, fundamentally, and solely to fight the German Army in Europe. And fight it did, splendidly, spectacularly and courageously.

I feel very possessive about this Battalion. I was a major factor in training it for combat. I was in it every day the Battalion was in combat, much of it after assuming command at the age of twenty seven. I believe that there was a special bonding between my men and me.

It was a great honor and privilege to command these tankers and to witness what they accomplished. In my opinion, our nation has never fully understood or appreciated the fantastic role played by such boys and very young men.

They proved themselves on the toughest testing ground of man – the field of combat. Nothing in my long, full life could compare with the priceless opportunity that I had to command the men of the 8th Tank Battalion. This is their story.

Photo of the Day: A Centurion in Germany

The POTD comes from the British tabloid The Sun.  While we try to avoid tabloids, we thought sharing this photo/article would be fairly harmless.  This picture shows Gary Blackburn, a British man living in Germany who has annoyed his neighbors by setting up a shrine to his home country, including a Centurion tank.


Source article.