- Taschenbuch: 384 Seiten
- Verlag: Stackpole Books (1. Dezember 2005)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0811732428
- ISBN-13: 978-0811732420
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 20,3 x 2,2 x 25,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 183.763 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Combat History of German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 653 in World War 2: In World War II (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Dezember 2005
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This work includes hundreds of photos, many never published before, of Germany's rarely seen tank destroyers, including the Ferdinand, Elephant, and Jagdtiger; colour illustrations focus on unit markings, numbering, and camouflage. Accompanying text chronicles the unit's combat operations; Personal accounts from the men who rode in these mechanical monsters. The German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 653 was equipped with the heaviest tank destroying vehicles of the German armed forces. Initially activated as an assault gun battalion and re-designated in April 1943, the 653 received its first Ferdinand tank destroyers (later modified and renamed Elephants) in May 1943 and went into action on the Eastern Front a month later. In 1944, the unit converted to the even more massive Jagdtiger. The seventy-five-ton, heavily armoured Jagdtiger was the behemoth of the battlefield and boasted a 128mm gun - as opposed to the Ferdinand's 88 - with a range of more than thirteen miles, making it deadly despite its limited mobility. Outfitted with these lethal giants, the 653 saw service in Russia, Italy, Austria, and Germany.
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Karlheinz Munch, a veteran of the modern German Army, has also written a history of German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 654.
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This book covers the entire war history of this unit ... from its initial formation as a assault gun battalion equipped with Sturmgeschutz III's (StuG III's) and it's fighting in the Soviet Union, to its conversion to a heavy anti-tank unit equipped with Ferdinand/Elefant tank destroyers and first employment at the battle of Kursk, to its final conversion and deployment with the Jagdtiger tank destroyer.
The book is full of pictures and illustrations, unit maintenance summaries, technical details, some general discussion of combat operations, and a few personal accounts from soldiers who served in the unit. The pictures are in black and white, and were largely new to me, and show not only the tank destroyers themselves, but also include some interesting pictures of associated vehicles, such a Russian T-34 converted to a German anti-aircraft tank. There is a lot of detail here, too, for the serious historian and modeler, with regards to unit markings and "in the field" details of the tank destroyers.
My favorite portion of the book is a section of a diary dating from the first few months of the war in the Soviet Union, when the soldiers were still fighting in StuG III's. Although somewhat sparse in tactical detail, these excerpts clearly show that the fighting in the first few months was much more harsh and difficult than the enormous victories of the first few months of the campaign might lead you to believe. However, this book is not really an operational history of the unit as much as it is a day-to-day depiction of what it was like to operate and maintain these jagdpanzers. And maintenance was indeed a problem with these huge, fairly unreliable weapons. Part of the problem is that they were rushed into service, and part of the problem is that they were so big and heavy relative to the technical capabilities of the motors and transmissions of the day. For example, a Jagdtiger built in 1944 weighed well over 70 tons, more than an M1-A2 tank in service today, and was powered by a 700 horsepower engine, less than half of the horsepower generated by the gas turbine of the M1. Although an outstanding weapons system when deployed properly and when everything was operating correctly, losses due to mechanical breakdowns were more common than losses due to combat.
Overall, I give this book 5 stars for the level of detail it provides on the working of this unit, and for the many excellent photographs and illustrations. Just be aware that if you're looking to read exciting operational history of the employment and battles with Ferdinands or Jagdtigers, this book is not what you're looking for. But if you're looking to learn a bit about a unit fighting with rare and exotic tank destroyers, this is the book for you.
A caution: Don't buy this book if you are looking for an exciting yarn. It is packed full of maintenance reports, combat reports, dates, places and the like. It's a book for the armour enthusiast and assumes some prior knowledge on the part of the reader for context and meaning.
Highlights for me was the insight I gained of the efforts, successes and failures the maintainence teams made to keep the Ferdinands and Jagdtigers combat ready. These men were the stars of the 653rd.
Apparently the original hardback version has much better picture reproduction, so if you have a choice go for that.
Recommend reading for part of any armour library.
Overall, this is an excellent book, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in WWII German tanks.
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