Osprey's Panzergrenadier vs US Armored Infantryman
|Steven J. Zaloga|
80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼
One of the major changes in how the army operates in battle was brought about by the German blitzkrieg. This was the concept of combined arms where the three major sections of an army, infanty, artillery, and armor work in cooperation with each other to achieve an objective. While this was eventually picked up by other warring powers, it was the German Army which led the way.
Part of this was the formation of specialized infantry designed to accompany armor. Armor is great by itself in the initial push, but it needs the protection of troops to keep themselves safe from counter attacks and from anti-tank weapons. This was something that the US Army also adopted during the build-up of 1940/41 in preparation for war.
However, there were some differences. One was that though designed to be motorized, there were not enough halftracks to equip all the panzergrenadier forces. Yes, there were trucks, but they were not good over rough terrain and often there were not enough of them. This meant that very few of these units were actually motorized. Much of the problem came from Germany's limited industrial base that was constantly stretched and unable to provide everything to everyone.
This was not the case in the United States. Once industry went on a war footing, every company was involved in producing material for the war. The US had enough halftracks to provide full motorized transportation for US armored infantrymen. Also, US half tracks had driven front wheels, something the German versions did not have. This provided even more mobility in rough terrain.
There were also differences in the way these vehicles were used. German half tracks were basically a way to keep up with the armor and transport troops. They were not designed for the troops to fight from them. This was not the case with American armored infantry, which often took their vehicles into battle and fought from within them.
In this book, the author covers the beginnings of both groups of soldiers and how their differences in combat tactics affected the outcome. Like everything in war, these tactics generally evolved over time to where what worked in 1939/1940 did not work so well in 1943/44. Add to it the increasing lack of combat experience with German troops and the deteriorating industrial condition as the war went on and one can see that no matter how well fought, the outcome was inevitable.
Chock full of great photos, some excellent illustrations, a few nicely done tables and descriptions of three major post D-Day battles, this book concisely demonstrates how the two sides fared against each other. It is a book that is both fascinating to read and provides a basis for how combined arms got its start and how it evolved. A superb read and highly recommended.
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