Wolfgang Schneider, Panzer tactics. German small unit armor tactics in World War II (Stackpole Books, 2020)
Panzer Tactics is a translation of a German work first published in 2000, containing 372 pages and a claimed 400 illustrations, though that seems on the low side to me. Schneider served as an armour officer in the German army and his knowledge of his subject shines through at all times. He has written a number of books on German tanks in WW2 and has a mastery of his subject, and he has clearly spent a lot of time in and around tanks, both modern and WW2.
Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, but not in this case. Here we have one that is far more than it claims and quite simply an essential source for anyone with an interest in the period or amour in general. Schneider has taken military training manuals, unit histories, after action reports, and a myriad of other documents and extracted and collated a wealth of information from them. These are backed up by hundreds of photos from a large variety of sources and are mostly previously unpublished. Add sketch maps and schematic diagrams and this becomes a primer for all things Panzerwaffe. Throughout, Schneider gives the German terms as well as the English, so if you are ever unclear about Hauptkauptkampfentfernung he spells it out for you, or his translator does at any rate.
Schneider sets out the various chapters thematically, starting with offensive operations, then defensive operations, unit movement, reconnaissance etc. They don’t all relate to tactics but also include logistics and maintenance, life in a panzer, and training and tank gunnery. These add to the completeness of the book, so while not strictly covered by the title they are more than welcome inclusions. There is a short chapter on tactics today and in the future, which seems a bit tagged on and unnecessary, but that is a very minor complaint for what is otherwise an excellent book. The illustrations are chosen to best illustrate the text so do not flow chronologically but thematically and show a huge variety of vehicles from a VW saloon to a Tiger II and everything in between. There are a number of oddities, like a Panzer I command tank in a combat unit in summer 1944, which as Schneider says, shouldn’t be there.
This is an excellent book on the German panzer arm and will appeal to anyone with an interest in the topic, be they a modeller, historian or wargamer. This should be the first item on their Xmas list.
Reviewed by Jim Graham