Panzer Divisions: The Blitzkrieg Years 1939-40 (Battle Orders) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/11/20
Kindle 端末は必要ありません。無料 Kindle アプリのいずれかをダウンロードすると、スマートフォン、タブレットPCで Kindle 本をお読みいただけます。
At the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Germany's armored forces - the Panzerwaffe - were still in their infancy. The restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles meant that German tank development had to be conducted in secret. Initial armor campaigns in Poland were not completely successful and changes were needed before the invasion of France.
This book examines the organizational changes, developments in doctrine and tactics, and improved command and control that provided the basis for the spectacular success of the Panzer divisions in 1940. Although the Panzerwaffe was still largely inferior to its enemies in terms of both tank numbers and quality, it effectively adapted and developed those doctrines and principles of warfare that had shaped German fighting since the 19th century. Achieving tactical and operational surprise, the Panzer divisions succeeded in breaking through enemy defences in the Ardennes and enveloping a large number of hostile forces at Dunkirk. The legend of the Blitzkrieg was born.
"Pier Paolo Battistelli's Panzer Divisions: The Blitzkrieg Years 1939-40 follows a German division relatively late to armored warfare, but which formed a formidable 'lightning war' contribution to its side. this focus on the tactics, weaponry and strategies of the Panzer Divisions is an excellent choice for any in-depth World War II military library." -The Bookwatch (February 2008)
"It is a book that puts new light to the use of these divisions and helps the historian understand why the tactics of the early war were not successful in later years. A book that is both interesting, informative, and provides a good source of inspiration for modelers as well." -Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (December 2007)
The volume begins with introductory sections on the pre-war genesis of the panzer divisions in 1935 and their combat mission to serve as a breakthrough/exploitation force for the Wehrmacht. The sections on doctrine and training incorporates earlier work done by authors such as Robert Citino and Wolfgang Schneider, focuses on the unique characteristics of the panzer divisions in 1939-40: a combined-arms organization that made maximum use of radio communications to enable tactical flexibility (it is often forgotten that many Allied commanders at the start of the war were still unaccustomed to issuing orders by radio). Unit Organization is covered in 33 pages, using standard line and block charts as well as pictographs with vehicle silhouettes. Unlike some other recent titles in the Battle Orders series, where the author forgets to include specific order of battle data, Dr. Battistelli gives a run-down of the specific composition of each of the first ten panzer divisions, as well as giving a thorough look at the composition of panzer and rifle regiments, artillery regiments, reconnaissance, motorcycle, anti-tank, pioneer and support units. The information is similar to that provided in Leo Niehorster's German organization volumes, but a bit more compact and user-friendly. Brief sections on tactics and weapons follow, which give a sense of how panzer divisions fought, but which leave battalion and below tactics a bit vague.
A 6-page section gives an overview of command, control, communications and intelligence for the panzer divisions. Although the author provides some nice charts on radio nets and staff structure, these are likely to be too detailed for the general reader and too general for the specialist. For example, there is no mention of either specific radio systems or capabilities used, including Enigma. Furthermore, the key weakness of the German staff system - the fact that the intelligence officer worked for the operations officer - is not emphasized. There is no doubt that the Germans had a communication advantage at this phase of the war, but specifics, like how did the organic Schutzen (rifle) regiments control dismounted troops when the German army at this point had few man-portable radios? Perennial C3I problems - such as how the Germans organized their fire support and air support (Flivo) nets are not even alluded to. Although the division reconnaissance battalion is discussed, how it did its mission and how this contributed to mission success for the division are given barely a nod. After reading these sections, I felt that the author understood the composition of the panzer division but did not really comprehend how all the pieces contributed to the mission.
The last major section is the 15-page discussion of combat operations, which primarily focuses on well-known actions in Poland and France. While the author's descriptions of the actions are factually correct and interesting in some places, the lessons do not always seem to come through with much force. This volume has six 2-D maps (4th Panzer Division at the Bzura in Poland, 13-14 September 1939; first tank battle of the war at Hannut, Belgium, 12-13 May 1940; breakthrough at Sedan, 13-14 May 1940; the panzers are checked at Gembloux, 15 May 1940; Rommel's breakthrough at the Meuse, 12-15 May 1940; the counterattack at Arras, 21 May 1940), which are very attractive but also crowded and confusing. Unlike other Osprey volumes, the maps in the BO series lack sequential notes on events and they just throw everything onto one map, which makes it difficult to follow. Furthermore, the action is all division-level, which gives little sense of actual tactical combat. The author also provides a useful bibliography and glossary.
He starts with a description of the development of the Panzerwaffe in the early 1930s. As with all sections of the book this is illustrated with well chosen photographs and descriptive captions. Sometimes it is difficult to make out some of the details mentioned in the captions due to the small size of many photographs, but this leaves more room for the text! The unit organisation section is the core of the book, showing the structure and development of the early panzer divisions and their component parts in September '39 and May '40. There are many clear and large line charts, block diagrams and other illustrations which show the organisation well. You will find yourself becoming good at recognising the silhouettes of different tanks and armoured cars. Note that the author always prefers the German terms to English (zug rather than platoon, leichte rather than light) but there is a clear glossary and, again, it's all educational! As well as providing general information, brief overviews of all ten Panzer divisions formed prior to May 1940 are given.
The section on weapons and equipment does not go into any detail (the main summary table is of French tanks rather than German) but this information is readily available from other sources.
After a quick look at the command and communications structures of the divisions, we move onto the combat operations section. Bar one action on the River Bzura in Poland the other five examples are all during the May 1940 campaign in France. Here the maps the good and detailed, maybe too detailed (although lacking scales which I find annoying), but the accompanying text can be difficult to relate to the maps. Maybe a more detailed look at two or three encounters would have been a better use of space and resources.
Despite these minor issues, I wholeheartedly recommend this book as one of the best examples of the Battle Orders series. I will certainly be buying the follow-up when it becomes available and I look forward to further works from this author; hopefully a companion volume on the Italian army!