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Jentz, Thomas L. Germany's Tiger Tanks: Tiger I & II: Combat Tactics. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1997.
Introduction; photos; diagrams; tables; maps; OBs; organization charts.
Appendices: Tiger I Issue Record; Tiger II Issue Record; Glossary of German Military Terms
If there is a fact concerning Tiger tanks left undocumented in this book, it is only because there will be two more volumes in the series. Those other two volumes will describe the design, development and production of the Tigers; this volume covers "Combat Tactics" but the subtitle is broad enough to include chapters on Operational Characteristics, Organization and Tactics, and Operational History as well as certain production and shipment information.
Jentz begins with Tiger firepower, quoting "the German manual on armor penetration curves" and presenting sketches of various 88mm shells. Two tables are reproduced with penetration performance against Shermans, Cromwells, Churchills, T-34s, and Stalins; two more tables show penetration performance (dismal!) against Tigers by various Allied anti-tank weapons. He then moves on to "mobility" and "survivability" on the battlefield, quoting extensively from an Allied report of firing trials against a Tiger captured in Tunisia. (The accompanying photos of the Tiger hulk, repeatedly hit at close range, are very impressive.) Similar testing was conducted in 1945 and likewise quotes from that report and photos are included.
In the second chapter Jentz discusses the evolution of the TOE of Tiger-equipped units, from the early experiments with mixed companies of 9 Tigers (in three "zuege", or platoons, each with three tanks) and 10 Panzer IIIs to the eventual establishment of pure Tiger companies of 14 tanks (organized in three four-tank zuege with a pair of Tigers in the company HQ section). Three Tiger companies and three HQ Tigers were grouped together as a "schwere Panzer-Abteilung", of which fourteen (eleven for the Army and three for the SS) were eventually created. Details of the activation of each Tiger-equipped formation (companies, abteilungen, and various special detachments) are provided with dates and numbers of tanks and more. This material is complemented by tables of Tigers sent to each unit by date, TOE diagrams with tank silhouettes, and diagrams and descriptions of basic Tiger platoon and company attack and maneuver formations. The chapter concludes with a three-page translation of the German manual for training and employment of Tiger companies.
The heart of the book is found in Chapter 9, "Operational History". Here the author presents German after-action reports of Tiger operations, from "First Actions Near Leningrad" (where in August 1942 two of the four Tigers promptly suffered mechanical breakdowns) and "Tigers in Tunisia" (where they continued to suffer teething problems but shocked hell out of the Allies) to the end of the war. In addition to Jentz's own commentary, much of this chapter is comprised of lengthy quotes from German documents, diagrams of Tiger availability for each unit, and organizational charts.
Two of the three appendices are devoted to giving the specifics of each shipment of Tigers from the factories: number of tanks, date departed, and unit/destination.
Once again Schiffer publishes all this material in a generously oversized tome, this one perhaps a little more densely laid out than some of their more commodious publications. In fact, my only quibble with Germany's Tiger Tanks is that the text is at once rather packed together and somewhat broken up and difficult to follow, and it is not always easy to distinguish between Jentz's own words and the many reports he quotes. Nevertheless, this is a feast of textual information, charts and diagrams, and photographs.
Recommended to anyone interested in armored fighting vehicles.
Available from mail order booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Schiffer.
Thanks to Schiffer Military History for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 31 August 1997
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