Osprey’s series “Duel” is adding another title - King Tiger vs. IS-2. As with previous publications, the book focuses on the design, development, and capabilities of these two well-known vehicles that debuted in the last eighteen months of the war in Europe. While the book does not offer much in terms of reference material for building the penultimate King Tiger or IS-2, it provides the necessary context for understanding the origins and development of these vehicles and how they performed on the field of battle.
Without going into great detail, the author provides a concise summary of the origins of these tanks and their subsequent development. Both vehicles came into production and service in the last 18 months of the war, meeting a need for a heavy tank. As with other vehicles in service with the German and Soviet armies, the Tiger was over-engineered and required more materials and labor than the IS-2. The IS-2 was uncomfortable but entered production quickly and was cheaper to produce than the King Tiger. Using Operations Solstice as a way to focus on the capabilities of each vehicle, it’s clear that both vehicles were effective, but because the King Tiger saw service in limited numbers, it really had no impact on the outcome of the war. Similarly, while the IS-2 was fielded in greater numbers and overwhelmed the Germans, it could be bested by the Tiger.
For the modeler, the color illustrations are particularly helpful in identifying the appropriate German and Soviet nomenclature for their respective colors. Similarly, the cutaway illustrations of their turrets are handy references for the modelers who want to add interiors to kits currently on the market. As with previous editions, this book does a good job of spelling out the technical attributes of the two vehicles, crew training, and capabilities, and nice summary of Operation Solstice. While it would have been nice to focus on how individual vehicles and commanders faired in this operation, readers not familiar with the Eastern Front will be exposed to an operation that does not generally get as much attention as the Battle of Berlin or the breakout from Normandy. For a more in-depth look at the development of the King Tiger, Osprey’s New Vanguard Series has volumes on both the King Tiger and the IS-2.
My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this publication.