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

According to Amazon, today marks the North American release of the new book Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War by Aleksei Isaev.  This is a 224 page hardcover published by Helion and Company.  Mr. Isaev has written numerous books on the Eastern Front during WWII, primarily in Russian.

Publisher’s Description:

In June 1941 – during the first week of the Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union – the quiet cornfields and towns of Western Ukraine were awakened by the clanking of steel and thunder of explosions; this was the greatest tank battle of the Second World War. About 3,000 tanks from the Red Army Kiev Special Military District clashed with about 800 German tanks of Heeresgruppe South. Why did the numerically superior Soviets fail? Hundreds of heavy KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the five-turret giant T-35 and famous T-34 failed to stop the Germans. Based on recently available archival sources, A. Isaev describes the battle from a new point of view: that in fact it’s not the tanks, but armored units, which win or lose battles. The Germans during the Blitzkrieg era had superior T&OE for their tank forces. The German Panzer Division could defeat their opponents not by using tanks, but by using artillery, which included heavy artillery, motorized infantry and engineers. The Red Army’s armored unit – the Mechanized Corps – had a lot of teething troubles, as all of them lacked accompanying infantry and artillery. In 1941 the Soviet Armored Forces had to learn the difficult science – and mostly ‘art’ – of combined warfare. Isaev traces the role of these factors in a huge battle around the small Ukrainian town of Dubno. Popular myths about impregnable KV and T-34 tanks are laid to rest. In reality, the Germans in 1941 had the necessary tools to combat them. The author also defines the real achievements on the Soviet side: the Blitzkrieg in the Ukraine had been slowed down. For the Soviet Union, the military situation in June 1941 was much worse than it was for France and Britain during the Western Campaign in 1940. The Red Army wasn’t ready to fight as a whole and the border district’s armies lacked infantry units, as they were just arriving from the internal regions of the USSR. In this case, the Red Army tanks became the ‘Iron Shield’ of the Soviet Union; they even operated as fire brigades. In many cases, the German infantry – not tanks – became the main enemy of Soviet armored units in the Dubno battle. Poorly organized, but fierce, tank-based counterattacks slowed down the German infantry – and while the Soviet tanks lost the battle, they won the war.

Book Alert: Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank

Those interested in early WWI tank combat on the Eastern front may want to check out this new book titled Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank.  Written by Francis Pulham, this is a 144 page softcover book.  Beyond that, we really don’t know much about this one or about the publisher, Fonthill Media.  This would appear to be the first book on tank warfare written by this author.

Publisher’s Description:

The Soviet T-35A is the only five-turreted tank in history to enter production. With a long and proud service history on Soviet parade grounds, the T-35A was forced to adapt to the modern battlefield when the Second World War broke out. Outclassed and outdated, the T-35A tried to hold its own against the German invaders to no avail. Very little is known about these strange vehicles, beyond their basic shape and photographs of them on parade grounds and battlefields. For the first time, actual battlefield photographs have been cross-referenced with maps and documents to bring about the most complete look at the T-35A in the Second World War to date. It is a grim depiction of the aftermath of the giants that were the Soviet T-35A tanks.

Edit: Sonny Butterworth posted a comment with some additional information about the author of this book.  We thought it merited posting in the main article.

The author has a Facebook page on which he regularly posts photos from his private collection. This book should be one of, if not the most, authoritative works published on the T-35, at least in English. From what I understand, Frankie Pulham has worked on identifying individual tanks by chassis numbers and their specific features in order to document their combat careers and fates. So should be a good book both for rivet counters and those interested in this tank’s operational history.  He is now working on a book documenting T-34 variants, including those produced outside of the Soviet Union.  You can also listen to Frankie talk more about the T-35 and his book on this podcast.

Book Alert: British Infantry Tanks in World War II

Kagero Press has released a new entry in their Photosniper series. This new book by Dick taylor is titled British Infantry Tanks in World War II (Photosniper). This is a softcover book of 96 pages with color photos and illustrations. While we have not gotten our copy of this book in the post yet, we have been pleased with other books of this series as well as with other books written by Dick Taylor.

Publisher’s Description:

Before the start of the Second World War, British armored doctrine was in a terrible muddle. Opinion had been divided between the proponents of the tank who saw it as the weapon of break-in, using it as an infantry support weapon, and those who saw it as the weapon of breakout, using it to restore mobility and to destroy the enemy’s forces behind the frontline. In many ways it was a division between those who saw the tank solely through the prism of the experience of the First World War, and those who saw it a decisive weapon for the future. Britain was also conscious of the continuing requirements for imperial policing, in which small tanks and armored cars had already proved their worth. As a consequence, it was decided that Britain needed three different classes of tanks: Light tanks for the policing role that could also be used for reconnaissance duties in a general war, fast and lightly armored Cruiser tanks for breakout and exploitation, and heavily armored but slow Infantry tanks for the break-in.

Book Alert: Nothing Impossible: Memoirs of a United States Cavalryman In World War 2

A new memoir of a WWII armor veteran has been released.  Nothing Impossible: Memoirs of a United States Cavalryman In World War 2 tells the story of the late Wallace Clement who served in the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Italy.  This is a softcover book of 210 pages.

Publisher’s Description:

Merriam Press World War 2 Memoir Series
First Edition 2017

The late Wallace Clement served in three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. A West Point Cadet, he entered the Army as a 2nd Lt. in 1940, rising to the rank of Major in 1944, serving with the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Italy where late in the war he was captured and ended the war as a POW.

He served in the Korean War, as a Lt. Colonel, and in Vietnam as a Brig. General as assistant division commander of the 23rd Americal Division.

He was awarded every medal that a soldier can receive save for the Medal of Honor.

This is his story, written by him, and edited by a good friend, Sean Heuvel, who as a boy listened to Clement tell his tales of his service.

Book Review: Soviet Lend Lease Tanks of World War II

When it comes to book series about tanks and armored vehicles, Osprey Publishing’s New Vanguard series certainly holds claim to being the longest running.  The publication of Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard), the 247th book in the series, is a testament to the popularity and quality of these books.  Much of the success of this series has to be attributed to the authors and illustrators that Osprey has been able to assemble, with Steven Zaloga being one of the most prolific and respected of the New Vanguard contributors.  With this new title on Soviet Lend Lease tanks he adds yet another entry into his already impressive bibliography.

For those not familiar with the format of the New Vanguard titles, these books are softcover, 48 page books, with numerous photographs, illustrations, and charts.  The earlier books in the series tended to focus on fairly well known vehicles, making them decent introductory primers on the subject.  As the series has gone on, the more obvious topic choices have been largely exhausted, opening up opportunities for less explored subjects.  One such example is Soviet Lend Lease tanks of WWII, which as far as we know has never been the sole topic of a book until now.

Having long been regarded as one of the foremost experts on Soviet armor history writing in English, Steven Zaloga is the ideal candidate to author this volume.  His writing is clear and understandable, containing a considerable density of information yet never becoming impenetrable.  The photos are well chosen and the paper quality is good, making for good photo reproduction.  The illustrations are attractive and appear to be accurate representations.  Given the relatively limited length of the book, technical specifics of the various lend lease vehicles is limited.  This is understandable since these individual armored vehicles all are described in other New Vanguard titles (as well as many other books.)  The focus of the book is on the role that these lend lease vehicles played within the Red Army and the interplay between the Soviet war planners and the Western officials in charge of Lend Lease deliveries.

One of the more interesting aspects of the story of these Lend-Lease vehicles is the Soviet interpretation of their quality and classification.  For example, while the British supplied three different types of “infantry tank” via Lend-Lease (the Matilda, the Churchill and the Valentine), the Soviets had to reclassify these vehicles according to their own system.  Hence, the Matilda and the Churchill were deemed heavy tanks while the Valentine was deemed a light tank.  Given the relatively weak armament of the Matilda and Churchill tanks compared to Soviet Heavy tanks, it’s not surprising that no more of them were asked for.  On the other end of the spectrum, the Valentine was rather well armed and armored compared to the Soviet T-60 light tank, so the Valentine was requested by Soviet forces even after it was regarded as outdated by British forces.

While British tanks made up most of the early war Lend-Lease shipments to the USSR, by the later part of the war the US was making the majority of the tanks being shipped.  Of course, the ubiquitous M4 Sherman became the primary tank sent overseas from the USA, being dubbed “Emcha” in Soviet service.  The primary variant sent was the M4A2, preferred by the Soviets due to its diesel engine.  One of the more unusual US vehicles in Soviet service was the T48 57mm motor gun carriage.  Intended as a tank destroyer, this was a US halftrack with a 57mm anti-tank gun mounted on top.  After these vehicles were rejected by the British, they were offered to the Soviets who took several hundred into service, renaming it the SU-57.  The SU-57 would become the only Lend-Lease combat vehicle used exclusively by the Red Army.

For those looking for statistics regarding Lend-Lease tanks, there are two pages of charts at the end of the book that will prove very useful.  Numbers are provided for total numbers of tanks shipped and received, broken down by vehicle type, year, and country of origin.  Also provided are numbers for Lend-Lease armored vehicles in service with the Red Army by type at the end of the war.  It is rather interesting to consider that in May of 1945 there were still 40 British Matilda tanks in Soviet service!  The book ends with a final assessment, stating that while tank shipments to the USSR were by no means insubstantial, they played a relatively small role in the Lend-Lease story compared to the large amount of trucks and raw materials that were shipped.  That said, these vehicles did play a role in filling production shortfalls experienced by the Soviets, particularly in 1942 when much Soviet heavy industry was still recovering from their rather hasty relocation eastward to avoid German occupation.

For fans of Eastern Front tank warfare history, this book will fill a niche that has not been addressed in a single volume.  For those interested in the tanks of the Western Allies, it provides an intriguing look into how these familiar vehicles were regarded by a foreign user in an environment very different from the deserts of North Africa or Western Europe.  The book retails for $18 and can be found at book stores and hobby shops as well as online.

Tank Commander : From the Fall of France to the Defeat of Germany – The Memoirs of Bill Close

This is not a new book, but we recently noticed that the kindle edition of Tank Commander : From the Fall of France to the Defeat of Germany – The Memoirs of Bill Close is only 99 cents on Amazon right now.  From what we understand, this book was originally published in 1998 as “View from the Turret.”  Hardcover copies of that edition have become quite expensive, so this 99 cent kindle edition is a welcome addition for those interested in the history of British Sherman tank commanders of WWII.

Publisher’s Description:

Bill Close had a remarkable war. In campaign after campaign, from the defense of Calais in 1940 to the defeat of Germany in 1945, he served as a tank commander in the Royal Tank Regiment – and he survived. His tanks were hit eleven times by enemy shellfire and he bailed out. He was wounded three times. He finished the war as one of the most experienced and resourceful of British tank commanders, and in later life, he set down his wartime experiences in graphic detail. His book is not only an extraordinary memoir – it is also a compelling account of the exploits of the Royal Tank Regiment throughout the conflict. As a record of the day-to-day experience of the tank crew of seventy years ago – of the conditions they faced and the battles they fought – it has rarely been equaled.

Available from Amazon here.

Book Alert: Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard)

Tomorrow is the release of the latest entry in the Osprey New Vanguard series, Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard).   This is a 48 page softcover with numerous illustrations and photos, following the well established format of previous entries in the series.  As far as we know, this is the first book to deal exclusively with the issue of the Lend Lease tanks sent to the Soviet Union.

Publisher’s Description:

The Red Army suffered such catastrophic losses of armour in the summer of 1941 that they begged Britain and the United States to send tanks. The first batches arrived in late 1941, just in time to take part in the defence of Moscow. The supplies of British tanks encompassed a very wide range of types including the Matilda, Churchill, and Valentine and even a few Tetrarch airborne tanks. American tanks included the M3 (Stuart) light tank and M3 (Lee) medium tank and the M4 Sherman tank, which became so common in 1944–45 that entire Soviet tank corps were equipped with the type. With these Western tanks, the Soviets were finally able to beat back the German tide in the East.

This study examines the different types of tanks shipped to the Soviet Union during the war, Soviet assessments of their merits and problems, and combat accounts of their use in Soviet service using full colour artwork, contemporary photographs and detailed cut-away illustrations.