Friday 15 April 2011

Panther vs Sherman

Like most Wargamers I find it hard to resist buying the occasional Osprey guide. The Duel series in particular are interesting because they compaire vehicles from a spcific combat or theatre of operations. I bought Panther vs Sherman:  Battle of the Bulge 1944 at the Cavalier show a few weeks ago and now that I have read it I consider it to have been worth every penny.

Like most Osprey's the book is well illustrated throughout with colour drawings and an interesting selection of Photographs. On of the things I liked about this book was the comparison of internal crew space between the turret of the Panther vs Sherman.

I find that when I read a history book that often one or two facts can leap out as so significant they stick in the mind long ofter you have moved on to another volume. This guide had many such facts in its pages as well as some unique and enlightening photographs. But for me the fact that stood out most came towards the end of the volume when discussing reliability as a key feature of the success or failure of these two iconic tanks.

By the end of the Battle of the Bulge as much as 55% of 'Operational' Panther's were sidelined due to mechnaical problems, while only 9% of Sherman's suffered similar reliability issues. Combined with the number of tanks available to each side - and the rate at which losses could be replaced - and the reader is left with a very clear picture of why the allies ultimately won the campaign to liberate Europe.

Author: Steven J Zaloga
Illustrators: Howard Gerrard & Jim Laurier
Duel Series: #13
Paperback: 80 pages
Published: Osprey (September 2008)


  1. Thanks for the good word, Lee!

  2. Thanks for the review. I used to buy a lot in the past (the very long past, past) But Internet has changed so many things, lots of info available and access to so many good books at a click-distance (Amazon, Ebay...) that I find now the price/content relation not so good. Having said that, I agree, hard to resist the occasional purchase

  3. Lee -

    There is a book written by an officer in the maintenance area for the US 3rd Armored Division called "Death Traps". My father had this book on his shelf and I "borrowed" it a few weeks ago during a visit.

    It takes your comment about the failure rates and the ability to get tanks (Shermans) repaired and back into service and goes way beyond in terms of details and stories. It also talks about the USA's failure to go to production sooner on the Pershing.

    The book itself is well written, but the subject matter is so narrow that some may find it to be dry.

    Good review on the Osprey book!

  4. Thanks for the review. I have Panther vs. Sherman is on my wish list.

    I have a pretty extensive WWII library, and "Death Traps" is among it. I enjoyed the book, but while knowledgeable, the author (Belton Cooper)comes across as very bitter. His displeasure with the Sherman is repeated over and over again. Granted, he was there, I was not.

    Delay in production wasn't the issue in getting the Pershing into combat units. American commanders, especially Patton, wanted to adhere to the armor doctrine of the period. Per that doctrine, tanks were not supposed to engage tanks. Our tank destroyers were supposed to take care of enemy armor. Problem is, someone forgot to tell the Germans. The brass wanted production concentrated on the Sherman so we could beat the enemy with superior numbers. Our GI's paid the price for such narrow thinking.

  5. I feel the same way about the US Humvee and Combat Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. My feeling is that higher US brass failed to recognize that the Humvee was a failure of a vehicle in counter insurgency operations involving IEDs. Instead of replacing with a different Mine Resistant armored vehicle until almost 5 years into either conflict, instead slapping more armor on the soldiers and the vehicles instead of switching to the more effective safer vehicle.

    Does the cost of upgrading all the vehicles outweigh the cost of compensating the families of dead soldiers or paying medical fees for veterans for the rest of their lives.

    It's a horrible cost/benefit analysis that somewhere some General is having trouble sleeping at night.

    It cost lives but in the end the Sherman and the Humvee(Atleast in Iraq) have prevailed. If only they would of made more Fireflys.

  6. Rhine -

    You are correct on bitter and the production delay being due to brass.

    There is an interview with a German Tanker, where he comments that he killed 8 Shermans in the span of a battle. He then states that the only problem was the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th that showed up.

    Quality of Quantity was not just on the East Front.

  7. Excellent post. I enjoyed the comments almost as much as the OP.


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