Steven J. Zaloga was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to John and Muriel Zaloga on February 1, 1952. Steven earned his undergraduate degree cum laude in history at Union College and his Masters degree in history at Columbia University. He obtained a Certificate in International Affairs from the graduate program of the University of Cracow. He has worked in the aerospace industry for some twenty years as an analyst specializing in missiles, precision guided munitions and unarmed aerial vehicles. Steven has served with a federal think tank, Defense Analyses. He was the writer director for The Discovery Channel’s “Firepower” series from 1987 to 1992. He has authored many books on military technology, especially in armored warfare. Steven is a noted scale armor modeler and is a member of AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society).
Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil and throughout his life he has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000, and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books.
I counted 48 black and white photographs plus two in color along with ten tables. There are also three color maps showing battle dispositions. Additionally, there are two color illustrations that allow you to compare the Panzer 38 (t) to the BT-7 overall (3-views). Jim Laurier includes a two page painting depicting a melee on June 22 for the Alytus Bridges along with the cover paintings of the Panzer 38 (t) and the BT-7. Jim also provides color cutaways of the turrets and color depictions of each tank’s sights (on the opposing tank). Color illustrations of the crew layout are also shown for both tanks.
Zaloga focuses this duel on the largest tank battle in history from June through August 1941: Operation Barbarossa. Soviet tanks numerically exceeded 13,000 against only 3,400 German tanks, but the Soviet losses were nearly 12,000 compared to German losses of about 400 tanks. This book tackles the question of why were Soviet losses so high by comparing two technically similar tanks, the Panzer 38 (t) and the BT-7. Zaloga narrows the investigation down by looking specifically at the German 7. Panzer-Division and the Soviet 5th Tank Division along the Neman River in the Baltic. German documentation is readily available of this battle; Russian documentation not so much since the Soviet 5th Tank Division unit headquarters was destroyed.
Zaloga covers both tank’s design, development, specifications, and performance followed by an analysis of the 7. Panzer-Divison’s and the Soviet 5th Tank Division’s history and training. Next up is an analysis of the strategic situation that leads straight into a detailed description of the actual battle along the Neman River. Steven Zaloga provides a good analysis of what happened in this key battle with his chapter on Statistics and Analysis. It’s truly amazing what good leadership and supply chain command can do.
The sections include:
One of the sections I found fascinating were the first person accounts during the battle that were employed by Steven Zaloga. I really enjoyed improving my understanding of the development of the Soviet BT-7 and German Panzer 38 (t) and their role in the massive tank battle in Operation Barbarossa.
If you own one the previous releases in the Duel 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.