The Tanks of Operation Barbarossa

Published: October 22nd, 2018     
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Reviewed by: 
Dick Montgomery, IPMS# 14003
Company: Casemate Publishing
ISBN #: 978 1 47388 680 3
Other Publication Information: 288 pages, 6x9 Hardback.
Price: $43.00

This publication is available in three formats. The hardback version is $43.00, and both the eBook(ePub) version and eBook (PDF) version are $26.00.

"Adobe Digital Editions" is needed to download and view eBooks. This book was first published in Great Britain by Pen and Sword Limited and is distributed in North America by Casemate Publishers.

About the Author

As presented on the broadsheet provided by Casemate, "Boris Kavalerchik is a mechanical engineer from the USSR who served as an officer in the Soviet armed forces reserve before emigrating to the United States. He has made a special study of the opening campaign of the Second World War on the Eastern Front, focusing in particular on the performance of the Soviet tank arm during the German advance. In Russian he has published a monograph and many articles on the subject. In English he has published 'Once Again About the T-34' in the Journal of Slavic Military Studies and, with Lev Lopukhovsky, The Price of Victory: The Red Army's Casualties in the Great Patriotic War."

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1 - The Main Factors that Determine the Design of Tanks
  • Chapter 2 - The Role of Tanks
  • Chapter 3 - Germany's Panzer Forces
  • Chapter 4 - The Wehrmacht's Panzers
  • Chapter 5 - German Panzers in Combat
  • Chapter 6 - Soviet Armoured Forces
  • Chapter 7 - The History of Tanks in the Red Army
  • Chapter 8 - Pre-War Soviet Tanks
  • Chapter 9 - Qualitative Characteristics of the Tanks
  • Chapter 10 - The Survivability of Tanks and Crews
  • Chapter 11 - The Tank Battle at Raseiniai, Lithuania, 1941
  • Chapter 12 - The Results of the Initial Fighting.
  • Appendix I: Report on Long-Range Test March of Three T-34 Tanks
  • Appendix II: Tactical and Technical Specifications of Soviet and German Tanks in the Initial Period of the Great Patriotic War
  • Appendix III: Dimensions and Cross-country Performance Specifications of Soviet and German Tanks in the Initial Period of the Great Patriotic War
  • Appendix IV: Armaments of Soviet and German Tanks in the Initial Period of the Great Patriotic War

This publication seeks to provide an answer to a long and painful (especially painful to the Russians) question, "What caused the Red Army's catastrophic loss in the border battles of 1941?" (A paraphrase of the question posed by the author on page vi of the Introduction)

In June 1941, it was thought that the tanks of the Red Army were superior in quality to that of the Wehrmacht, not to mention outnumbering the German tanks by a margin of 4 to 1. But, as the author points out in the introduction, "History has repeatedly shown that even a substantial numerical superiority in force and means far from always guarantees a victory in armed struggle." An argument about the superiority of the tanks involved, those of the Wehrmacht or those of the Red Army, existed in 1941, and it is this question that the author addresses.

The author lays out a path forward by posing a set of questions and then providing data that addresses those questions.

Those questions, in short, are:

  1. What were the characteristics of the tanks that faced off on the Eastern Front?
  2. What were the goals that drove tank design?
  3. How many tanks were actually manufactured and engaged in battle on the Eastern Front?
  4. What was the evolution of the formations equipped with this armor?
  5. What is the history of the use of armor in armed conflict on the eve of the Great Patriotic War?
  6. Upon what criteria should the armor being employed be compared to evaluate the quality of the tanks properly?
  7. What factors influenced the success or failure of the armor used in Operation Barbarossa?

In just over 280 pages the author answers these and other significant questions. This is a scholarly work, supported by data and information not available to Westerners until declassified by the Russian government. Very well organized and written, this book is a new look at one of the most famous confrontations between land armies of the 2nd World War.

This book is highly recommended due to the excellent use of data, the organization of the book established by the author, and thoughtful and comprehensive coverage of the subject. Thanks to Casemate for providing this copy for review by IPMS.

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