Tank Combat in North Africa: The Opening Rounds - Operations Sonnenblume, Brevity Skorpion and Battleaxe February 1941-June 1941
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By Thomas L. Jentz
The focus of this book is the tank battles fought during the opening phase of the war in North Africa. What really happened during the engagements? How were the tanks fought? What were their strengths and weaknesses? Not simplified generalities, but substantive, basic facts gleaned from searching for details in the surviving original records.
The accounts of each battle are excerpted from the original reports written by the participants directly after each engagement. To understand the basis for the outcome of the battles, it is necessary to possess a basic understanding of the capabilities of each type of tank, its opponents, and how they were tactically employed.
The first five chapters in this volume provide descriptions and technical attributes of the British, German, and Italian tanks and anti-tank guns along with the tactical doctrine from the period. Chapters six through eleven contain the details of the tank battles fought in North Africa during the period from February 1941 to June 1941.
Translated excerpts from the Deutsches Afrikakorps war diary are used as a backdrop to provide a chronological guide as events progressed. An interesting feature from this war diary was the brief daily weather report revealing how hot it was and when sand storms occurred.
Details on the actions in the tank battles are taken from after-action-accounts written directly after the engagements, enhanced by excerpts from war diaries of the armoured units involved to fill in the preliminary moves, buildup of strength, combat losses, and details on the actions that weren't contained in the after-action-reports.
This book is compiled from the results of digging through original records for over thirty years in an attempt to find data that would aid in assessing and understanding the tank battles that took place in North Africa. Tom Jentz is also the author of Panzertruppen 1933-1942, and Panzertruppen 1943-1945 (both titles are available from Schiffer Publishing Ltd.).