The History of the Panzerjager...

...Vol 1: Origins and Evolution 1939-42, from Osprey Publishing

Title: The History of the Panzerjager

Author: Thomas Anderson

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-1758-7

A new hardback book from Osprey, and from well known author Thomas Anderson, an expert on German AFVs and equipment of WW2.  This one is the first of a two-part set to tackle the topic of the German Panzerjager, the 'Tank Hunters'.  As it says in the titles on the cover, this one considers their Origins and Evolution 1939-42.  Just over 300 pages packed with information and well illustrated throughout with archive photos, many of which have not been published before.

It begins with the background and the lessons the German army took from WW1.  Then the developments of the 1930's which led to the equipment that was in service in 1939/40 and the operations in Poland and then France.  In these early days of WW2 they made widespread use of the towed 3.7cm Pak 36 and the slightly larger Czech 4.7cm gun which they fitted to the Pz I chassis to create the Panzerjager I.  The success or otherwise of these early weapons is assessed with the reference to combat reports rather than more personal accounts.  It does also introduce the 8.8cm gun fitted to the 8-ton half-track, the 'Bunkerknacker/Bunkerflak' (and towed) which proved to be an effective anti-tank weapon against the heavier enemy tanks as well as their intended operation against emplacements or aircraft.  There are a variety of improvised self-propelled mountings, as well as the experimental weapons such as the Dicker Max, though it never went into production.

Also included are other anti-tank weapons, including hollow charge demolition devices, mines, molotov cocktails, grenades attached to jerrycans (!) and even bottles of mud to obscure vision blocks.  Then add the development of taper bored weapons ('squeeze guns'), such as the small 2.8cm Panzerbuche as well as development of larger calibre types.  For airborne troops there was the LG40 Recoilless Rifle and it does also cover the use of captured weapons, including the early stages of the Russian campaign.

Add statistics, unit organisations along with the content of official reports, the large collection of archive photos, all of which have informative captions, and the sheer breadth of coverage of the topic, including ammunition, this makes for another superb book from Thomas Anderson and Osprey, well worth adding to your reference bookshelf.  Now we can look forward to volume 2 whenever it is ready.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.