The Anti-Tank Rifle

Published: January 21st, 2018     
Product Image
Book cover
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 9781472817228
Other Publication Information: Soft Bound; 7.3” x 9.8”, 80 pages
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: WPN60

Steven Joseph Zaloga was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on February 1, 1965. He graduated cum laude from Union College in Schenectady, New York, with a BA in History. He has completed graduate work and earned a Certificate in International Affairs from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Founded in 1364 by Casimir III the Great, it is one of the oldest surviving Universities in the world. Steven has over twenty years of experience as an aerospace analyst, focusing in on the international arms trade and missile systems. He has been a prolific author with published books going back at least to 1977. He is also an avid armor modeler and is a moderator on Missing-Lynx.com as well as a member of the Armor Modeling and Preservation Society (AMPS). He is currently a senior analyst for the Teal Group based in Fairfax, Virginia, and is an adjunct for the Institute for Defense Analyses. He currently resides in Abingdon, Maryland. He is on both LinkedIn and on Facebook.

Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Troiani, and Edouard Detaille. His illustrations have been featured in at least 65 books. His interests include karate, running, Bible reading, history, and making English longbows. Check out his website at Deviantart, Facebook, johnnyshumate.com, and the freelanced website.

Alan Gilliland spent 18 years as the graphics editor of the UK's Daily Telegraph, winning 19 awards in that time. He now writes, illustrates, and publishes fiction (www.ravensquill.com), as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers including Osprey. Check him out at alangillilandillustration.blogspot.com and reedsy.com.

Osprey's 60th book in the Weapon series is a square back soft cover includes 80 gloss paper pages. The top of the front cover features a photograph of the A Boys Anti-Tank Rifle while the lower front cover photograph is of a Finnish anti-tank rifle team using a 20mm L-39 rifle near Latvia on June 7, 1942. I counted 61 photographs, 5 in color and 56 black and white. Johnny Shumate contributes the three battle scene color paintings, including two that are two-page spreads. Alan Gilliland provides the color cutaway of the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle Mk I, complete with a legend. There are also six tables included.

Steven Zaloga covers the development and use of the Anti-Tank Rifle in this latest Weapon series tome from Osprey. Although all sorts of interesting anti-tank rifles were developed, Steven has restricted this book to those with a shoulder stock and to only those used in battle. The Anti-Tank Rifle was a response to the arrival of the armored cars and tanks in World War I. Although effective against lightly armored cars, damaging the up-armored tanks was more problematic. The various solutions developed could often penetrate the tank's armor, but had little energy to do much afterward. The downside to the Anti-Tank Rifle was their weight and short lifespan.

Germany did develop an Anti-Tank Rifle in World War I, but deliveries to the front were too few and too late. The between the war period saw more development, but the primary issue that remained was essentially a physics problem. Delivering enough energy to get through the armor and then to do some damage required a bigger gun. Increasing the tank's armor thickness also made the Anti-Tank Rifle irrelevant. The development of the bazooka and the panzerfaust eventually replaced the Anti-Tank Rifle, although they did find some use in the Pacific against the lightly armored Japanese tanks. Although supplied with bazookas, the Soviets never fully adopted them (for a variety of reasons) and the Anti-Tank Rifle was relied on in the Eastern front until 1945. Although of minimal effect on modern tanks, the Anti-Tank Rifle has served on in other wars and skirmishes, lately making an appearance in Ukraine in 2015.

The sections include:

  • Author's Note
  • Editor's Note
  • Glossary
  • Introduction [Page 5]
  • Development - A New Weapon
    • The German Tankgewehr
    • The Polish wz.35
    • German Anti-Tank Rifles of World War II
    • The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle
    • The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle Exposed (Color Cut-Away) [Page 20]
    • Solothurn Anti-Tank Rifles
    • US Anti-Tank Rifles
    • The Japanese Type 97 Anti-Tank Rifle
    • The Finnish Lahti L-39 [Page 31]
    • Soviet Anti-Tank Rifles
    • Soviet Anti-Tank Rifle Production (Table)
  • Use - Anti-Tank Rifles in Combat
    • The T-Gewehr in World War I
    • Lehr-Infanterie-Regiment Statistics (Table)
    • The wz.35 in the September 1939 Campaign
    • German Anti-Tank Rifles in Combat
    • The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle in Combat [Page 50]
    • The Solothurn Anti-Tank Rifles in Combat
    • Finnish Anti-Tank Rifles in Combat
    • Soviet Anti-Tank Rifles in Combat
    • Japanese Anti-Tank Rifles in Combat
    • Anti-Tank Rifles in Asia and the Pacific in 1941-45
  • Impact - An Ineffectual Weapon [Page 69]
    • Anti-Tank Rifles Comparative Technical Characteristics (Table)
    • Anti-Tank Rifle Cartridges Comparative Technical Data (Table)
    • Anti-Tank Rifle Armour Penetration Comparative Technical Data (Table)
    • Comparative Production of Anti-Tank Rifles (Table)
  • Conclusion
  • Further Reading
  • Index

I really appreciated the structure that Steven Zaloga utilized, starting with the Anti-Tank Rifle by the major combatants and then jumping into its actual combat use. I found the section on the use of the Polish wz.35 quite interesting. The Polish infantry fielded 2,760 Anti-Tank Rifles and its cavalry had an additional 774 Anti-Tank Rifles. German armored vehicle losses to the Poles were high with 674 tanks and 309 armored cars hit. The downside was totally disabling the tanks. Many of the German armored vehicles were simply repaired and put back in service. The greater impact though was the Germans upgrading their armor frontal plating prior to their engagement with France.

Steven Zaloga provides a very readable text that is well supplemented with photographs and illustrations from Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland. I was able to read the book easily over two nights, even with my wife repeatedly telling me to go to sleep. If you own one the previous releases in the Weapon series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Sample photo page
    Sample photo page
  • Sample drawing page
    Sample drawing page
  • Sample photo page
    Sample photo page
  • Sample photo page
    Sample photo page
  • Sample photo page
    Sample photo page

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