Panther vs. Sherman: Battle of the Bulge 1944
ISBN: 978 1 84603 292 9
Contributor: Thomas Houlihan
Review Date: 21 Sep 2009
This book is primarily a side-by-side comparison of two of the most well-known tanks in military history, leading up to their meeting during the Battle of the Bulge. Granted, Shermans and Panthers had faced each other prior to that, but after outlining development, tactics, and crews, the author uses one particular engagement to compare the two vehicles.
The first three chapters are about the two vehicles themselves. There is a comparative chronology of development, followed by chapters on design and development, as well as technical specifications on the two tanks. While the first two chapters were easy to follow, what I liked about the third was that the reader need not be an engineer to understand it. The technical information was presented in an understandable manner, so that even a non-mechanical person could get the gist of it.
The section on the vehicle crewmen was interesting in that not only did it analyze the crew positions, but training, background and even ergonomics in the two different vehicles. There was even a brief comparison of tank aces between the US and German armies, though some will think that the Heer should have been highlighted rather than the Waffen-SS.
A short section on the overall strategic situation in the winter of '44 led into the chapter on combat between the two protagonists. This chapter was broken down in specific engagements during the overall fight in the Bulge. In particular, the fight at Freyneux, Belgium on 24 December was discussed with a nicely illustrated birds-eye view of the fight, drawn by Howard Gerrard.
The final chapter is an overall assessment of tank combat in WWII. This chapter also had some interesting charts showing vehicle and personnel losses in Panther units and US 1st Army during Autumn 1944. To reflect the discussion of the different versions of the Sherman during 1944, there is also a chart showing the strength balances of 75mm and 76mm guns in the US 12th Army Group during the Fall/Winter '44-'45.
I truly liked the illustrations by Jim Laurier. Throughout the book, there were side by side comparisons of the vehicles, their turrets, even their gun sights. This backed up the liberal use of photographs showing both vehicles in many different views.
This is an easy book to read, and would be welcomed by any reader with an interest in either of these fighting vehicles. I definitely recommend it.
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