Bruce Oliver Newsome, Valentine Infantry Tank vs Panzer III (Osprey, 2023)
I blame Hollywood. World War II tanks on the big screen tend to be portrayed as behemoth fighting machines, bristling with firepower and guaranteeing death and destruction on a grand scale. In reality, those tanks were few and far between; rather, most tanks on both sides were relatively small and nimble, performing multiple battlefield tasks. Bruce Newsome examines two of those tanks from the early war and how they clashed in North Africa.
Newsome notes right off the bat that Panzer IIIs and Valentines constituted one-quarter of German and British tank production, though both underwent numerous upgrades as the war proceeded. Newsome narrates the design and development of both tanks, their specifications, production (6,094 Panzer IIIs, 7,260 Valentines), and deployment in various theatres through August 1944. It is North Africa, however, and in particular Tunisia, where Newsome focuses his attention. He surveys the strategic situation and planning with box-outs for the main commanders. Then Newsome revisits the technical aspects of the tanks, including the roles of the crew members. Newsome returns to Tunisia to describe, quite extensively for an Osprey book of this nature, the battles around Tebourba in November-December 1942 and the lessons both sides gained from them.
This book should appeal to World War II tank enthusiasts. Newsome regularly flips between the two tanks so that the reader gets a genuine sense of comparative parallel development. That also prevents the less technically educated reader from becoming bogged down, making for a solid introductory book in keeping with Osprey’s overall mission for this Duel series. The battles Newsome chooses are explained to a high enough degree to give a sense of what tank combat in North Africa was all about; a more nuanced event than your average Hollywood tank movie offers. The accompanying photographs and graphic art compliment Newsome’s text, as we come to expect from Osprey. Overall, this is recommended for modellers, wargamers, and novice readers to tank warfare.