Tank Craft #20: Tiger I - Eastern Front Summer 1943

Author/Artists: Dennis Oliver


Pen & Sword


$26.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, softcover, 200 illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-5267-5582-7

This book from Pen & Sword's series on military vehicles concentrates on the introduction of the Tiger tank on the eastern front. Specifically on the battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943. Unlike the propaganda spread by the Soviets regarding 'the Tigers are burning', the Tiger I fared rather well during these events. The major issue was, of course, reliability and the lack of spares that often kept tanks out of action. As technically advanced as was German armor, it tended to be overly complex and the the Germans never really got a proper logistics chain in operation. This was somewhat exacerbated by the industry's tendency to produce more tanks rather that more spare parts.

The Tiger was born from the natural need for a replacement for the Panzer IV with work initially beginning in 1937 by several companies. Slow progress was made until Soviet heavy tanks were engaged early in the war with the USSR. Then things sped up considerably and while none of the designs were exactly what was wanted, the field was reduced to prototypes by both Henschel and Porsche. A short run of about 50 tanks was produced by both firms with the Henschel offering being chosen for full roduction. The Porsche chassis did not go to waste being later used for tank destroyers.

Though the Tiger did see some service in the last months of the North Africa campaign, it was the eastern front where they saw their greatest use. The first major battle for the Tiger was the Kursk salient, where they performed fairly well. That is the focus of this book.

As is the case with a lot of the books in this series, we get a brief look at how each of the Army's armored divisions used the tank and their combat record. There is then a fairly large section of large profiles, often accompanied by a photo of the vehicle in question. Then we get to some feature model builds along with a rundown of kits and accessories that are available For the Tiger. These sections are by no means comprehensive but do cover most of what is currently available. This is followed by a brief section that helps one identify the major features of the tank as production proceeded.

These books where you have a mixture of history, camouflage and models are becoming more and more the norm. This one is well done, as are the other books in the series as they are by the same author. The format is a bit different as the history and units portion is divided by the profiles and modeling section before continuing, but you get used to it. Well worth picking up.

March 2020

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