Anti-Tank Weapons by Terry Gander Published by The Crowood Press, Crowood
Lane, Ramsbury, Wiltshire SN6 2HR,
England. Hardback, 192 pages, fully illustrated. ISBN 1 86126 259 0 UK price £19.95
As soon as tanks made their first appearance on the battlefield, measures to defeat them were introduced. The early attempts with armour-piercing bullets in ordinary rifles and machine guns along with bundles of hand grenades soon gave way to specialist weapons. Since then the race was to defeat tanks and the measures taken to protect them have continued and will continue as long as tanks in any form are still used.
Over the years many different types of weapon have been used against
tanks. Some have been successful enough to have stayed in used almost throughout the
tank's history. Very early on the use of high-velocity guns was successful and in one form
or another they are still around. Although many Western armies found they became too big
to be used as towed weapons and
thus relied on a tank's main gun as their main anti-tank weapon, they continued in the Soviet Block and can still be found in Russian service today. Other weapons have come and gone. Anti-tank rifles were of some use until developments in armour made them ineffective. The infantryman then came to use some sort of small, shoulder-fired rocket which has been
developed into a very sophisticated weapon. Recoilless guns had a brief period of success but have largely been replaced by guided missiles which can defeat even the heaviest armour.
As well as attack from the ground, tanks increasingly faced danger from
aircraft. This was initially from fighters and bombers used in roles they were not
designed for with specialist tank busters being used in WW2. Nowadays, fixed wing aircraft
have been largely replaced in this role by tank hunting helicopters whose speed and
manoeuvrability means they can
attack from all directions with little warning. Even heavy artillery can take on tanks at long range using sophisticated shells dispensing small bomblets.
The story of each phase in the fight against tanks is told as it unfolded.
Coverage is generally country by country, and what emerges is a sequence of improvements
which are soon made obsolete as tanks improve in response to them. Some designs are well
known and the story in whole or parts is well enough known but it is set down here in one
compact volume. The basic
details of each weapon is given in the flow of the text and most are shown in the 150 black and white photos. We see the best designs and the worst, and how each type of weapon had its often brief effect on the battlefield. This is a technical history but it is not dry reading. With so much ground to cover the text cannot go into great detail on any individual weapon but
there is enough detail for most readers. One small improvement would have been to have printed the photos to a larger size, many weapons were large and most would benefit from a larger illustration. That small gripe apart, as a complete account of anti-tank weapons from the earliest times to date, this is as good as you will get without seeking out a large and expensive
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