05 January 2016
An ideal purchase for anyone wishing to refight the Cobra offensive
PANZER IV VS SHERMAN: FRANCE 1944
Steven Zaloga, Osprey Duel, No 70, 2015; £12.99
This is another excellent offering in an excellent series, with a strong combination of technical detail and operational analysis. Both vehicles were the mainstay of their respective armies, and were remarkably close in several aspects – same speed, similar armour (once you allow for the sloped 51mm of the Sherman versus the vertical 80mm of the Pz IV), but with significantly better gun penetration values on the one hand and better reliability on the other. The book quotes from a postwar British Army efficiency analysis that rated the PzIV H at 1,000 yards engagement range as being equal to 1.1 75mm-armed Shermans, 0.9 Fireflies, and 1.35 Cromwells – a surprisingly close set of ratios, you might think?
The operational analysis is of the Cobra breakout in July 1944, and contains a wealth of photographs and statistics plus well-written battle accounts. There are important snippets for the wargamer here: for example, the proportion of 76mm-armed Shermans, the fact that most tank engagements were against non-armour targets, the widespread use of a smoke round to blind an enemy tank (followed by a flanking manoeuvre), and much detail on force compositions and strengths.
This is an ideal purchase for anyone wishing to refight the Cobra offensive, with its combination of aggressive U.S. task forces and depleted German battle groups. Highly recommended. (Chris Jarvis)