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Tanks! Video Series part 2

Peter Brown

Produced by Cromwell Productions Ltd, Warwickshire, England. Web site history-zone.com  email crom@compuserve.com UK price 12.99 per tape or all six in a boxed set of six for 49.99

This the second series of one-hour presentations from Cromwell. Their first set of six tapes dealt with WW2 German armour, while this covers the wider field of armoured vehicles and warfare in the same period. Each follows the same format, mixing archive  film with computer generated footage and specially filmed sequences of preserved vehicles in several collections as
backdrops to commentaries from noted experts in the field. Each video is complete in itself, and taken together they give a good overview of most areas of armour in the wartime years.

"The Fall of France" ref 0390 begins with the development of armoured warfare theories in the 1920s and 1930s leading to an overview of how the Blitzkrieg worked in the campaign of 1940. The main tanks used by the British, French and German armies are described with details of how each country's ideas on their intended use shaped them and gave each its good and
bad points. The actual campaign is then covered as it unfolded, though as can be expected footage is more common from the German viewpoint.

"Tigers in the Desert" ref 0403 begins with the first Tigers in action in Tunisia, and includes a recreation of fighting in a Tiger using Aberdeen Proving Ground's tank from which is currently under restoration. The story then moves back in time to 1940 and follows the desert campaign from the early battles against the Italians, them against the Afrika Korps and on to the final defeat of Axis forces. Vehicles are described as they were introduced throughout with the coverage of the campaign and tactics used.

"Barbarossa" ref 0388 starts off in the pre-war years with Russian ideas and theories of the use of armour and the effects of Stalin's purges which led to the huge Russian losses at the beginning of the German invasion. The campaign is then covered until the initial advance came to a halt as supply lines became over-stretched and winter conditions set in. The shock caused
by meeting the T-34 is described, unfortunately using film of a T-34-85 which is far too late for the period.

"Kursk" ref 0392 continues the coverage of the Russian front campaign to the point where the tide of war there turned against the Germans. The battles in the Kursk salient produced the greatest clash of tanks in WW2 and maybe in the entire history of armoured warfare. The build-up to the fighting and its course is covered along with developments in vehicles on both sides with
details of problems with the then-new German tanks.

"The Battles for Normandy" ref  0393 covers the D Day landings and early stages of the campaign in France. The 79th Armoured Division's various Funnies are well described with animations of Sherman DD and Crab and Churchill AVRE on D Day and Le Havre. Other aspects of the campaign, including naval and air support, are covered, as are Germany's increasing
problems over command and falling manpower resources.

"The Ardennes Offensive" ref 0389 deals with the German December 1944 counterattack. It describes their Tiger II and Jagdtiger and analyses the advantages and shortcomings of their turretless Sturmgeshutz and Jadgpanzer series. Here again more the total picture is given, with matters like the lack of Allied air support due to bad weather early on, use of deception
forces, the defence of Bastogne, the stalling of the offensive and the Allies own eventual counterattack.

Like other series, sections of archive film footage are sometimes used when they are not altogether appropriate. The animations can be impressive, though in some cases the vehicles are simplified and some are more accurate than others.  Overall its coverage is more balanced than found in some series, there is more on the British side compared to others which can use
too much German and American material. Expert commentaries used where appropriate are good. Some errors are made in the commentary but all in all this is a good series at a realistic price. The boxed set is  also a good saving.

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