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The German panzer armies that swept into the Soviet Union in 1941 were an undefeated force that had honed their skill in combined arms warfare to a fine edge. The Germans focused their panzers and tactical air support at points on the battlefield defined as Schwerpunkt - main effort - to smash through any defensive line and then advance to envelope their adversaries. ??Initially, these methods worked well in the early days of Operation Barbarossa and the tank forces of the Red Army suffered defeat after defeat. Although badly mauled in the opening battles, the Red Army's tank forces did not succumb to the German armoured onslaught and German planning and logistical deficiencies led to over-extension and failure in 1941. In the second year of the invasion, the Germans directed their Schwerpunkt toward the Volga and the Caucasus and again achieved some degree of success, but the Red Army had grown much stronger and by November 1942, the Soviets were able to turn the tables at Stalingrad. ??Robert Forczyk's incisive study offers fresh insight into how the two most powerful mechanized armies of the Second World War developed their tactics and weaponry during the critical early years of the Russo-German War. He uses German, Russian and English sources to provide the first comprehensive overview and analysis of armored warfare from the German and Soviet perspectives. His analysis of the greatest tank war in history is compelling reading.
By 1943, after the catastrophic German defeat at Stalingrad, the Wehmacht’s panzer armies gradually lost the initiative on the Eastern Front. The tide of the war had turned. Their combined arms technique, which had swept Soviet forces before it during 1941 and 1942, had lost its edge. Thereafter the war on the Eastern Front was dominated by tank-led offensives and, as Robert Forczyk shows, the Red Army’s mechanized forces gained the upper hand, delivering a sequence of powerful blows that shattered one German defensive line after another. His incisive study offers fresh insight into how the two most powerful mechanized armies of the Second World War developed their tank tactics and weaponry during this period of growing Soviet dominance. He uses German, Russian and English sources to provide the first comprehensive overview and analysis of armoured warfare from the German and Soviet perspectives. This major study of the greatest tank war in history is compelling reading.
Late in 1942, the situation on the Eastern Front underwent a swift and sudden change. Trapped in the ruins of a devastated city, Friedrich von Paulus' Sixth Army faced the prospect of death or imprisonment at the hands of Soviet forces. With such a significant proportion of the Wehrmacht's combat forces isolated in Stalingrad, the German position looked ready to crumble, whilst the powerful Soviet counteroffensive threatened to bring about the collapse of the entire Front. Yet, in a startling recovery led by one of the Wehrmacht's greatest commanders, Erich von Manstein, the German front line was rebuilt, and the weaknesses of the Red Army were revealed under the pressure of an impressively mobile campaign, which played strongly to German strengths. Written by one of the world's leading experts on the Eastern Front, On a Knife's Edge is a story of brilliant generalship, lost opportunities and survival in the harshest theatre of war.
Since the Second World War, Arab armed forces have consistently punched below their weight. They have lost many wars that by all rights they should have won, and in their best performances only ever achieved quite modest accomplishments. Over time, soldiers, scholars, and military experts have offered various explanations for this pattern. Reliance on Soviet military methods, the poor civil-military relations of the Arab world, the underdevelopment of the Arab states, and patterns of behavior derived from the wider Arab culture, have all been suggested as the ultimate source of Arab military difficulties. Armies of Sand, Kenneth M. Pollack's powerful and riveting history of Arab armies from the end of World War Two to the present, assesses these differing explanations and isolates the most important causes. Over the course of the book, he examines the combat performance of fifteen Arab armies and air forces in virtually every Middle Eastern war, from the Jordanians and Syrians in 1948 to Hizballah in 2006 and the Iraqis and ISIS in 2014-2017. He then compares these experiences to the performance of the Argentine, Chadian, Chinese, Cuban, North Korean, and South Vietnamese armed forces in their own combat operations during the twentieth century. The book ultimately concludes that reliance on Soviet doctrine was more of a help than a hindrance to the Arabs. In contrast, politicization and underdevelopment were both important factors limiting Arab military effectiveness, but patterns of behavior derived from the dominant Arab culture was the most important factor of all. Pollack closes with a discussion of the rapid changes occurring across the Arab world-political, economic, and cultural-as well as the rapid evolution in war making as a result of the information revolution. He suggests that because both Arab society and warfare are changing, the problems that have bedeviled Arab armed forces in the past could dissipate or even vanish in the future, with potentially dramatic consequences for the Middle East military balance. Sweeping in its historical coverage and highly accessible, this will be the go-to reference for anyone interested in the history of warfare in the Middle East since 1945.

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