Tank Wrecks of the Eastern Front 1941-1945...


...an Images of War book from Pen and Sword


Title: Tank Wrecks of the Eastern Front 1941-1945

Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-500-3

Another recent addition to the Images of War series from Pen and Sword and also another by author Anthony Tucker-Jones.  It is certainly one for the tank enthusiast/modeller.  It covers the war on the Eastern Front from 1941 through to the end, in 1945.  It also makes for an intriguing look at how both Germany and later Russia cottoned on to the propaganda value of photographing knocked out enemy tanks.  Not only that, but there was valuable intelligence to be gained by examining captured enemy equipment.  Last, but by no means least, there was also a clear fascination among soldiers from all sides to examine the tank wrecks they encountered and found it symbolic to have a photograph of themselves beside some of these armoured giants to send home to their families.  Perhaps some wanted to give the impression they had been directly involved with knocking out the tank, perhaps it was just a tangible symbol of general battlefield success.

The book reflects the course of the war, with the 10 chapters each tackling particular tank type(s). Each one is started with a couple of pages of well informed background text that leads into an associated set of archive photos, all of which also have helpful captions.  The chapters deal with Russian T-26, BT-7, T-28 & T-35, KV-1, KV-2 and T-34, followed by the later stages of the war with German Pz III, Pz IV, Tiger and finally Panther.  While a few of the photos were familiar, the bulk were new to me.  The sheer number of tanks involved on the Eastern Front during the war is hard to imagine today.  Just in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, some 17,000 Russian tanks were wrecked.  Some through combat and others from mechanical failure.  So there were plenty to photograph even in this early period.  As the war progressed so did tank design and their armament got more capable.  In the later war photos we see the effects on German tanks, including the heavier Tigers and Panthers at Kursk in 1943 and beyond.

The detail we see of the tanks featured in the book will interest tank historians and modellers alike, plenty of inspiration for model dioramas I think in particular.  One thing to mention is that a number of the photos also provide a graphic illustration of how ghastly the end could be for crews when trapped within an armoured box they could burn or even more dramatically explode.  The sights and smells that the inquisitive solder must have encountered when attracted to examine these wrecks may well have made them glad to be infantrymen I suspect.  A very good addition to the Images of War series and I continue to find these ones from Anthony Tucker-Jones a reliable reference.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.