The Panzer III, Hitler's Beast of Burden...


...a new Images of War from Pen and Sword


Title: The Panzer III, Hitler's Beast of Burden

Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-105-0

New from Pen and Sword, author Anthony Tucker-Jones has added another to his list of Images of War titles, this time looking at the Panzer III gun tanks.  A softcover book of 111 pages, divided into 8 chapters and containing over 150 archive images.  The Pz III was one of the two medium tank designs that began in the 1930's, along with the Pz IV.  While the Pz IV gun tanks remained in production through to the end of the war, that wasn't the case with the Pz III gun tanks, though the chassis remained in use, particularly for the Sturmgeschutz guns.  In terms of the chassis, over 6,000 were built as gun tanks, while over 10,000 chassis were used for other AFVs, especially the Stug, figures which among those quoted in the final chapter.

Following the informative and useful introduction, the chapters follow a logical sequence, each one started with pages of background text and then a set of appropriate and well captioned photos.  The main body of the book starts with Early Days - Ausf A-E.  The earliest variants were built by Daimler-Benz, but as production was ramped up, so Henschel and MAN also got involved.  Hence the title of the next chapter, Ramping Up Production - Ausf F-H, followed by Most Numerous - Ausf J.  Chapter 5 is Upgunned - Ausf N, then 6 is Panzer III Variants.  Chapter 7 is Hitler's Beast of Burden, which looks at details such as engine, specialised tracks plus camouflage and markings.  Finally chapter 8 deals with Beast of Burden in Combat, which looks at the various theatres where it saw action, Poland, France, North Africa, Russia, Normandy, Norway and Axis Exports.

The photos selected for the book give an excellent look at the Pz III gun tanks, and many of which I had not seen before.  Captions are informative and tell more of the story.  You get a fine representation of the different wheel arrangements of the very early versions, along with the changes in armament from the early 37mm gun, through the short and later long 50mm weapons, and the later short barrelled 75mm guns, along with the addition of skirt armour around the turret and on both sides of the hull.  Tank enthusiasts, historians and modellers should all find some helpful detail in here.