Tank Killers: A History of America's World War II Tank Destroyer force

Tank Killers: A History of America's World War II Tank Destroyer force

by Harry Yeide

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The Tank Killers is the story of the American Tank Destroyer Force in North Africa, Italy, and the European Theater during World War II. The tank destroyer (TD) was a bold-if some would say flawed-answer to the challenge posed by the seemingly unstoppable German blitzkrieg. The TD was conceived to be light and fast enough to outmaneuver panzer forces and go where tanks could not. At the same time, the TD would wield the firepower needed to kill any German tank on the battlefield. Indeed, American doctrine stipulated that TDs would fight tanks, while American tanks would
concentrate on achieving and exploiting breakthroughs of enemy lines.

The Tank Killers follows the men who fought in the TDs from the formation of the force in 1941 through the victory over the Third Reich in 1945. It is a story of American flexibility and pragmatism in military affairs. Tankdestroyers were among the very first units to land in North Africa in 1942. Their first vehicles were ad hoc affairs: Halftracks and weapons carriers with guns no better than those on tanks and thin armor affording the crews considerably less protection. Almost immediately, the crews realized that their doctrine was incomplete. They began adapting to circumstances, along with their partners in the infantry and armored divisions. By the time that North Africa was in Allied hands, the TD had become a valued tank fighter, assault gun, and artillery piece. The reconnaissance teams in TD battalions, meanwhile, had established a record for daring operations that they would continue for the rest of the war.

The story continues with the invasion of Italy and finally that of Fortress Europe on 6 June 1944. By now, the brass had decreed that half the force would convert to towed guns, a decision that dogged the affected crews through the end of the war. The TD men encountered increasingly lethal enemies, ever more dangerous panzers that were often vulnerable only to their guns while American tank crews watched in frustration as their rounds bounced harmlessly off the thick German armor. They fought under incredibly diverse conditions that demanded constant modification of tactics. Their equipment became ever more deadly. By VE day, the tank destroyer battalions had achieved impressive records, generally with kill/loss rates heavily in their favor. Yet the Army after the war concluded that the concept of a separate TD arm was so fundamentally flawed that not a single battalion existed after November 1946.

The Tank Killers draws heavily on the records of the tank destroyer battalions and the units with which they fought. Veterans of the force add their personal stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935149736
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 01/19/2005
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 115,461
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Harry Yeide has been a national security affairs analyst for the federal government for 27 years. He received a BA in political science and German from Muhlenberg College in 1982 and an MA in international affairs from the George Washington University in 1984. In his position with the federal government he has worked as a political, terrorism, and economic analyst on the Soviet Bloc, the Balkans, the Aegean, East Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and he has served in numerous assignments overseas. He is the author of a number of works of military history, including The Longest Battle and First to the Rhine.

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Tank Killers: A History of America's World War II Tank Destroyer Force 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Henry_Berry More than 1 year ago
Yeide's 'Tank Killers' is 'intended...[to be] both a broad history of the Tank Destroyer Force and a representative look into the world of men who fought in the TD battalions.' The TDF was formed in the early days of the North Africa campaign when Allied Forces faced the vaunted German Panzers. Involved in the war in Europe on all fronts including the Italian campaign, D-Day, and the invasion of Germany, the TDF always had an eclectic, ad hoc character to it. Faced with the seemingly incongruous requirements of greater mobility than the German tanks to find them and then outmaneuver them and at the same time powerful enough weapons to destroy the enemy tanks, the TDF made do with armed Jeeps, artillery, tanks, anti-tank mines and hand-placed explosives. The Force was filled with personnel with varied specialties and combat experience brought in from varied Army units. As important as the TDF was in taking out the deadly German tanks commonly threatening to stop advancing infantry, the Force was never smoothly integrated into the regular combat forces. It was disbanded shortly after World War II ended. Yeide is an author of a previous work on U. S. tank warfare in Europe whose history of this brief, but crucial Army tank force contains enough material on individual soldiers, tactics, and combat for any World War II and military history buff. What is new and most captivating about it, though, is the continuing innovation and scrappiness of the men of the Tank Destroyer Force as they gained more information about their foe, weapons evolved, and terrains and other conditions changed during the course of the War.
NOOKSAN More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyable read if you're into military history and strategy. Conceptual development of a strategy does not always materialize on the battlefield. This book illustrates the importance of flexibility on the battlefield. While American tanks were clearly outgunned - lighter tanks allows American tanks to fight on different fields. If cohesive unit and platoon radio communication were available there would be significantly less lives lost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a wolverine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"A History..." is that indeed. Lots of unit numbers and places on the globe (keep one handy). There are many names mentioned but the book isn't about any set of particular names, other than those that advocated for/against the TD force.
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