80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softcover
This latest matchup in Osprey's popular Duel series concentrates on two adversaries that entered service pretty much around the same time. This time, the meeting place is Normandy where the Cromwell was first used in numbers. While much of what is written about D-day focuses on the US and Omaha beach, where the German resistance was the greatest, few know that most of the armor battles were with the British part of the invasion front. It is true that the Commonwealth forces actually got ashore with much fewer casualties, but it does not mean they had it easy.
Normandy is where the British first ran across the Jagdpaner IV. The assault gun was one that was used by all sides save the Americans, but it was the German army that put it to its best use and developed tactics regarding its use. This weapon had the plus of being inexpensive to build, when compared to the standard tank as it used the same chassis. It also was able to house a fairly good size weapon that was capable of taking out just about all British and American tanks from a fairly good distance. Its low silhouette also made it a lot easier to hide in ambushy to camouflage. Indeed these were very much mobile anti-tank guns. The standard towed guns were still very useful and greatly used, but the jagdpanzer was able to move away fast enough to keep from being pinpointed and destroyed. Its greater armor also stopped all but the closest enemy tank fire. It did have its down sides and that was the inability to traverse the gun more than a few degrees and the thin upper surface armor was fine against small arms, but was fairly easily penetrated by fighter bombers and their rocket projectiles.
The Cromwell was, at the time, the pinnacle of British armor, which meant that it was a bit lacking compared to American and German armor. It had its issues with the lack of a really powerful gun and somewhat thin armor. Indeed, many Commonwealth tank crews who transitioned from the Sherman would have preferred the Sherman. However, the Cromwell was nearly as good and unlike earlier British tanks, was pretty reliable with good speed and a gun that was useful at short ranges. Another down side was the lack of HE ammunition for its gun. This is something that plagued most British tanks until the Centurion came into service. Interestingly, it was also the first widely produced British tank that was not riveted, but welded. If properly handled, it was quite effective and it was built in fairly large numbers where it opponent was spread thin.
In this book the author covers the development of both the Cromwell and the Jagdpanzer IV. Then it covers the technical specifications of the two subjects as well as how the crews trained to use these AFVs. It then discusses the tactical situation at the time they were put into combat with each other and finally, a goodly portion of the book looks at how they fared in combat against each other. It is a superb book on the subject and one that I am positive you will enjoy reading. Highly recommended.
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