Reference, Osprey Duel 10 M3 Medium Tank vs. Panzer III, Kasserine Pass 1943
May 18 2008 at 6:35 PM
(Login zappa93) Missing-Lynx members from IP address 188.8.131.52
Duel 10, M3 Medium Tank vs. Panzer III, Kasserine Pass 1943. By Godon Rottman, with illustrations by Ian Palmer and Giuseppe Rava. Soft cover, 7.25 x 9.75-inches, 80 pages. Contains 43 B&W photos, 17 pieces of color art and maps, four charts, chronology, index and bibliography. ISBN 978-1-84603-261-5. Price: $17.95 USD.
It is always tempting to compare weapons systems with each other, especially those that actually were adversaries during wartime; this is a common past-time of the uninitiated and the arm-chair general. In answer to this need, Osprey recently came up with the “Duel” series, which in the case of this latest book, pits the US-manufactured M3 medium tank against the German’s mittlerer Panzer, the Pz.Kpfw.III. Combat between these types occurred with some regularity in the campaigns in North Africa, first with the British and later with the Americans, both against the Germans, so this book begins with a certain amount of logic.
It is unfortunate that the author of this book continually exhibits a lack of understanding when it comes to specific AFVs and their sub-types; his writing where it concerns actual battles is usually well-done, but always let down when he delves into the details of combat vehicles. Not surprisingly, this book continues that trend.
To begin with, the German Pz.Kpfw.III is continually referred to as a “light tank”, which it certainly was NOT. The author even goes into some detail as to why this was so, which further erodes his credibility. Also, as is usual, he often misidentifies certain sub-types and describes details quite incorrectly; several photos are completely mis-captioned. I will list only two examples, due to time constraints.
• On page 37, referring to the accompanying photo of a Pz.Kpfw.III, his caption describes the empty mount for the Nebelwurfkurzgerät and its function in proper detail, which is fine. What’s wrong is that the “mounting bracket” he points out is actually the turret’s lifting hook.
• On page 56, referring to the accompanying photo of an M3’s interior describing the driver’s forward facing view-port hatch lid and his options when it was closed, his caption states: “Thus when the tank was in action, the driver’s only view would be through the tiny slit to his left” (meaning the view-port on the superstructure’s angled port-side armor plate). This statement completely ignores the main view-port’s built-in slit directly in front of the driver!
I could go on, but as the saying goes, “resistance is futile”.
The text describes the development of both types in adequate fashion, with the caveat that the reader should expect to come across statements that are contradicted by more recent and reputable references, particularly when it comes to the Pz.Kpfw.III. This is possibly understandable when it is realized that his main reference in this regard is a book that’s over 30-years-old. A large grain of salt will be in order.
When describing the situations in the field, as well as the training of US and German tankers, the author regains his credibility by providing a good general account in those areas. It is also to his credit that he was able to obtain first-person anecdotes from a German Pz.Kpfw.III radio operator and an American M3 75mm gunner, both of whom participated in the battle that is the book’s main focus.
While technical tables detail both tank types, there is absolutely no information given on main gun penetration of various armor thicknesses at various ranges. One would think this would be a vital component of a book which purports to compare the prowess of these antagonists in battle!
The photographs are for the most part, previously seen, but there are a few that are less-familiar, especially some of those depicting the M3. Reproduction is fine overall, but as stated above, some of the captions need loads of help. The color CAD art is often either poorly-proportioned (the M3), improperly-detailed (the Pz.Kpfw.III), or improperly presented (an upside-down Browning .30 cal. MG). Some CAD renderings of ammunition are useful to modelers, but the actual function of the rounds themselves is inadequately (or not at all) explained. In addition, there is a color-spread battle scene, which while dramatic, is probably far too “stylized” to be of any use to modelers or the casual reader. On the other hand, a four-panel CAD art depiction of the view through a Pz.Kpfw.III’s gun-sight as it destroys first a US half-track and then an M3 medium tank seems to be chillingly realistic.
The end result is a book that does not fulfill the primary objective of the series that it is a part of and that has fairly little else to offer. Readers interested in the battles between the US and the Germans at this locale and in this time frame will be far better served by the Osprey Campaign book number 152, Kasserine Pass 1943, by Steve Zaloga.
Frank V. Curley Stooge De Sisto
Osprey books can be purchased at retail and mail-order vendors, as well as direct at: www.ospreypublishing.com.