IntroductionThe Anti-Tank Rifle
from Osprey Publishing LTD
presents the story of the infantry's defense against tanks before the shaped charge. Model companies have released kits of anti-tank rifles and teams, and with the burgeoning number of early WWII and minor powers subjects, interest in these heavy rifles are growing. This book is Weapon 60
(short code: WPN 60) and IBSN 9781472817228
. Authored by Steven J. Zaloga and illustrated by Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland, it is 80 pages of content.
The emergence of the tank in World War I led to the development of the first infantry weapons to defend against tanks. Anti-tank rifles became commonplace in the inter-war years and in the early campaigns of World War II in Poland and the Battle of France, which saw renewed use in the form of the British .55in Boys anti-tank rifle - also used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific. The French campaign made it clear that the day of the anti-tank rifle was ending due to the increasing thickness of tank armour.
Nevertheless, anti-tank rifles continued to be used by the Soviets on the Eastern Front with two rifles, the 14.5mm PTRS and PTRD, and were still in widespread use in 1945. They served again with Korean and Chinese forces in the Korean War, and some have even appeared in Ukraine in 2014-15. Fully illustrated and drawing upon a range of sources, this is the absorbing story of the anti-tank rifle, the infantryman's anti-armour weapon during the world wars.
Anti-tank rifles (ATR) is another one of those underappreciated weapons that have intrigued me since playing Squad Leader after I bought an Armtec Bren gun and Boys anti-tank rifle set. I am happy to have it.
ContentThe Anti-Tank Rifle
is presented to us through 80 pages of seven chapters and subsections:
A new weapon
Anti-tank Rifles in Combat
An ineffectual weapon
Starting out a glossary and small metric to standard conversion table are found inside the title page. The text presents a good deal of information. It is engaging to read and well laid out. Quotes and official reports describe the combat experiences of these guns. Shaded box-outs and sidebars emphasis relevant and supplementary information. Author Zaloga zeros in on the subject starting with Germany's T-Gewehr of The Great War and the technical aspects of a rifle that could shoot through even the thin armor of the first generation of tanks. Twenty-eight pages presents Development, A new weapon
, which chronicles those 'unwieldy and detested' guns by country from the 13mm T-Gewehr, Poland's elongated wz.35, various follow-on German guns, the British Boys, and weapons from the US (the huge .60 cal. T1E1), Russia, Switzerland, japan, and the famous Finnish Lahti L-39.
How those anti-tank rifles performed are presented through 31 pages in Use, Anti-tank Rifles in Combat
. Discussed are the countermeasures developed, e.g., spaced German armor verses the big Soviet 14.5mm PTRS and PTRD rifles. I never knew that Japan fielded ATRs; the story of the ATR in the Pacific is enhanced by a full page "sidebar".
The ATR story is wrapped up in 10 pages in Impact, An ineffectual weapon
. It discusses how many surplus ATRs have made it into the shooting ranges of the United States in the hands of collectors.
Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
Modelers should find inspiration for dioramas and vignettes in the gallery of photographs that fortifies the text. One photo shows the turret face of a French tank, peppered and pocked with numerous ATR and anti-tank gun hits. I did not find a poor image in the book. Most of the ATRs are showcased as backgroundless portraits. Many high-quality propaganda photos show the weapons in staged scenes. There are a few shots that seem to be extemporaneous. A couple of images are in color.
Artwork includes three full-color scenes and a cut-away:
1. Centerfold Red Army PTRS anti-tank rifle team, Kursk, 1943
2. Centerfold Polish ant-tank rifle team, September 1939
3. German T-Gewehr strongpoint, summer 1918
4. The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle Exposed: .55 Boys Anti-Tank Rifle Mk I cutaway, the whole gun and the action, keyed to 32 components.
Several tables and sidebars present facts and data:
a. Soviet Anti-Tank Rifle Production, 1941-44, by type.
b. Lehr-Infanterie-Regiment Statistics by projectiles, range and impact angle and effect, for five firing tests.
c. Anti-Tank rifles in Asia and the Pacific in 1941-45, full-page mini-history.
d. Anti-tank rifles: comparative technical characteristics: 10 ATRs from T-Gewehr to the Type 97 by caliber; length; barrel length; barrel length (caliber); weight; muzzle velocity.
e. Anti-tank rifle cartridges: comparative technical characteristics: for the guns listed above by cartridge dimensions; designation; core; overall weight; propellant weight; projectile weight.
f. Anti-tank rifle armor penetration: comparative technical characteristics: eight criteria including penetrations at 100 and 300 meters, at 0 and 30 degrees.
g. Comparative Production numbers.
Those tables make it easy to understand why bulky and heavy ATRs were replaced as soon as practical with bazookas and Panzerfausts/Panzerschrecks
ConclusionThe Anti-Tank Rifle
from Osprey Publishing LTD
was what I hoped it would be, a concise yet detailed presentation and examination of those giant hulks of iron designed to give soldiers in thin shirts some way to fight back against steel-clad cannon-toting behemoths. It explains why some guns were more successful than others, and some were perceived to be so even if they weren't very effective.
Photographic support and original artwork helps in visualizing what the text tells us. That text is well presented and - for me - strikes a good balance between readability and technical descriptions.
I can't think of anything to criticize about this book considering the constraints of the format and subject matter. I know there's no such thing as perfect and thus I hate to not say anything critical about it, but I just don't have anything negative to say. I did not even find a typo.
Modelers should appreciate this title in general and modelers of 'men-verses-tanks' subjects should find great inspiration in it. I do and I recommend it.
Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on