Osprey's Panzer IV

Author:

Thomas Anderson

Publisher/Distributor

Osprey Publishing

Price

$40.00

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 304 pages, 7 x 9 inches, hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-2968-9

The Panzer IV was developed in conjunction with the Panzer III to replace a pair of light tanks that were rushed into production to provide the German Army with armor that was compatable with what was being operated by other nations. The Panzer II was to be the primary anti-armor tank while the Panzer IV was designed for infantry support. At the time the initial production tanks were in the hands of the army, they were considered to be adequate for their tasks. A small number of Panzer IVs were involved in the invasion of Poland.

It was the battles in France that showed that even later versions were only barely adequate as they proved to be somewhat susceptible to anti-tank guns. As such, the armor was improved, mostly via add on plates. By the time of the Russian invasion, both the Panzer III and Panzer IV had been upgunned and up armored based on previous combat with older tanks being upgraded. However, they were not prepared for the T-34. The Panzer IV was not up to dealing with this tank and once again, the thank was upgraded to deal with this threat. What resulted was a tank that was fully capable of dealing with the standard T-34 and it wasn't until near the end of the war with the T-34/85 that the Panzer IV was again superseded.

In this book, the author provides the full development of the tank, including all the various changes on the production line to improve the tank over the years. This kept the Panzer IV as an effective weapon, even with the introduction of the Panther in mid 1943. In addition, the Panzer IV chassis was used on a number of specialty vehicles, including bridge layers and as the basis for the StuG IV. This book does not cover the StuG.

The history is provided year by year so we can see how well the tank operated. Much of the write-up is based on after action reports that highlight the tank's strengths and weaknesses. I found this fascinating as it really provides a look at what the tanks were like. Add to it a ton of great photographs and you have a complete look at one of the widest used tanks of WWII. Highly recommended.

February 2021

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