By Kenneth W Estes.
The super-heavy tanks of World War II are heirs to the siege machine tradition - a means of breaking the deadlock of ground combat. As a class of fighting vehicle, they began with the World War I concept of the search for a 'breakthrough' tank, designed to cross enemy lines. It is not surprising that the breakthrough tank projects of the period prior to World War II took place in the armies that suffered the most casualties of the Great War (Russia, France, Germany). All of the principal Axis and Allied nations eventually initiated super-heavy development projects, with increasingly heavy armour and armament. Much as the casualties of World War I prompted the original breakthrough tank developments, as Germany found itself on the defensive, with diminishing operational prospects and an increasingly desperate leadership, so too did its focus turn to the super-heavy tanks that could turn the tide back in their favour.
At 42 pages, this is a handy and informative guide to super-heavy tanks in the period 1918 to 1949.
After a brief discussion of the K-Wagen (including an interesting photograph of one being built at the Riebe Works, Berlin) the following vehicles are examined: Char 2C; FCM F1; TOG; KV-4; Maus, E-100; Jadgtiger; the Japanese O-I; the T-28 and the A39 Tortoise.
The book discusses the development, testing, service [where relevant] and eventual fate of each of the vehicle types. The photographs are clear and informative and there are useful colour vehicle profiles and two 'in action' colour plates.
This is a very good history of the type and one of the best books on the subject, short of the in-depth and more expensive specialist texts.