Tank Craft #27: Panzer III-Operation Barbarossa 1941

Author/Artists: Dennis Oliver


Pen & Sword


$28.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, softcover, 200 illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-5267-7171-3

This book from Pen & Sword's series on military vehicles concentrates on the Panzer III as operated during the invasion of the Soviet Union. I had always thought that this was a medium tank, and perhaps that was the case when it was initially developed, but the author insists it is a light tank and it's his book.

Initially armed with the 37mm anti-tank gun, it was soon to prove to be quite inadequate for a vehicle of this type and was soon upgraded to a 50 mm gun that proved to be more suited to the combat situation. Also improved from the initial versions was the amount of armor on the tank. By the time of Barbarossa, most Panzer III tanks were the ausf G and J versions. Older tanks were upgraded to the new standards when returned to the shops to repair damage or simply when they were due for overhaul. So good was the tank that its chassis was the basis for the very successful StuG III assault gun as well as a variety of other support vehicles. The tank itself was considered to be obsolescent by 1943, yet still soldiered on in many locations until the end of the war.

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 Panzer III. Not surprising is that most of the kit builds are the1/35 Dragon kits. 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. Obviously they have been well received as the series is up to volume 27. Well worth picking up.

January 2021

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