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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid information, but almost no combat encounters!
I ordered this book because of the title's promise: "King Tiger vs IS-2". There is frustratingly little literature on the Joseph Stalin series of tanks, and especially on their battles with the Tiger B (Royal or King Tiger). In its 80 pages, as far as I can ascertain, there is exactly one account of an exchange of fire between the two types; to save your time, I will...
Published on August 23, 2011 by T. D. Welsh

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs Work
The book is ok until the action chapter, which is really poor. It basically consists of a confusing sequence of battalion or higher level unit movements, with a single map that doesnt cover all the area mentioned and little tank duel to speak of. In contrast, other duel books have really interesting equivalent sections e.g. the Panzer IV vs. Char B1.
Published on October 11, 2011 by Will


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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid information, but almost no combat encounters!, August 23, 2011
By 
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
I ordered this book because of the title's promise: "King Tiger vs IS-2". There is frustratingly little literature on the Joseph Stalin series of tanks, and especially on their battles with the Tiger B (Royal or King Tiger). In its 80 pages, as far as I can ascertain, there is exactly one account of an exchange of fire between the two types; to save your time, I will reveal that it can be found at the bottom of page 59. A Tiger B came face to face with an IS-2 and destroyed it with three shots; the crews of two other IS-2s then abandoned their tanks and ran away. That's the extent of the fighting between King Tiger and IS-2 that you will find in this book. The author could have included the exploit of Fred Carpaneto, whose lone Tiger B destroyed an entire Soviet tank company including IS-2s, and four or five other documented encounters between Tigers and IS-2s. Those fights were rare, but that is surely all the more reason to report on all those that are known of.

Instead, what you get includes good detailed backgrounds and histories of the two tanks, including metallurgical comparison of their armour protection and descriptions (with pictures) of their guns and sighting arrangements; and an account of the chosen campaign, Operation "Solstice" (German "Sonnenwende") in East Prussia in February 1945. The section dedicated to "Solstice", entitled "The Action", is 20 pages long and mentions Tigers and IS-2s from time to time, but in no way focuses on them. Indeed, it seems quite out of place in this book: the 20 pages could better have been devoted to the fighting around Tarnopol in 1944, for example, or at Targul Frumos in Rumania.

So if you want to learn about the King Tiger and the IS-2, this book may be just the thing - only a real expert could read it all without learning anything new. But if you are interested in combat between the two types, forget it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs Work, October 11, 2011
By 
Will (California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
The book is ok until the action chapter, which is really poor. It basically consists of a confusing sequence of battalion or higher level unit movements, with a single map that doesnt cover all the area mentioned and little tank duel to speak of. In contrast, other duel books have really interesting equivalent sections e.g. the Panzer IV vs. Char B1.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Succeeds on certain levels, but fall short on others, September 15, 2011
This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
In Osprey's Duel-series volume King Tiger vs. IS-2, David R. Higgins outlines the clash between two of the Second World War's classic heavy tanks. This clash occurred late in the war, in February 1945, and involved only small numbers of King Tigers and IS-2s, yet the significance extended well beyond the parameters of a few tactical encounters. As almost every other reviewer has already noted, the actual King Tiger vs. IS-2 content in this volume is quite sparse and the emphasis is more on design and operational details, rather than tactical combat. However, this is a very appealing volume on a subject of great interest to Second World War tank aficionados. The volume benefits from the full "Osprey treatment" (despite recurrent snide comments that Ospreys are `lightweight,' they still provide better graphical presentation than any other historical publisher out there) and is graphically very attractive. In essence, this volume describes how the two tanks were developed and how they came to be deployed against each other, although there is obviously too few historical vignettes to substantiate their relative performance against each other. This is also one of those Duel-titles where the parameters of the duel is a bit hazy, particularly since the two rival tanks operated in a mixed environment with other weapons systems affecting their operations. Overall, this is an interesting volume that was hindered by lack of information on key aspects necessary to validate its underlying duel hypothesis; it succeeds on certain levels, but fall short on others.

After a very brief introduction, the author jumps right into a 13-page section on Design and Development. This section was decent and included 2-page color profiles with data plates on each tank. For most readers, the discussion on the genesis of each tank should be more than adequate. The following 12-page section on Technical specifications closely follows the categories I used in my earlier volume Panther vs. T-34 to evaluate the critical functions of each tank (armor, firepower, mobility and communications). This section also includes see-through color plates of the turrets of the King Tiger and IS-2 tanks, their ammunition and tables on armor penetration. The author also included several nice color photos inside the King Tiger turret. Taken together with the Design section, the author has provided a very good base for evaluating these rival tanks.

However, the volume seems to start veering more toward an operational account than a technical evaluation in the 7-page Strategic Situation section. There were two maps in this section setting the operational and tactical situation, but most of the discussion focuses at the army/corps level rather than the battalion/brigade level where the duel is expected to occur. In short, the Germans tried to mount a spoiling attack against Zhukov's right flank to delay the drive on Berlin and they managed to scrape up about 40 King Tigers to lead the assault. It would have been useful if the author had specified more about how many German AFVs were employed in the operation, not just the King Tigers, and the same applies to the small number of IS-2s in the opposing Soviet 2GTA. The 11-page section on combatants has some useful information on specific order of battle for the 503 s.Pz.-Abt. and the 11GTB (Heavy) -nicely done - as well as profiles on the opposing commanders and some information on tactics. However, the background on the training of each sides' tankers, which was quite germane to the performance of these tanks, fell short of what I was expecting. Issues of how much driver and gunnery training the tankers received is barely mentioned.

The 21-page section on `the Action' is decent but too high level, with more focus on the larger units rather than the spotlighted tanks. Only a single King Tiger vs. IS-2 engagement is noted, with the Germans the winner; it should be noted that the engagement took place at the pointblank range of 50 meters, which means that it actually says very little about relative capabilities. There was a lot of mention about German ad hoc anti-tank measures and Soviet responses which was nice, but outside the parameter of this duel equation. The author also mentions that two King Tigers were destroyed by Soviet infantry, but doesn't mention how this was done. Given that the Red Army had very little anti-tank capability in its infantry battalions, this would have been worth mentioning. This section also has two excellent gunsight pictures for each tank. The operation ended with a whimper for the Germans, failing to reach their objectives but Zhukov was temporarily distracted from Berlin. Given this outcome, it's difficult to see how the outcome of this duel mattered. The 5-page section on analysis is the weakest in the volume, with no tables and very little hard data. In essence, the author makes the broad observations that the King Tiger had superior firepower and protection, which made it best suited for the defense, while the IS-2 was a relatively well-rounded heavy tank with better mobility, which suited its offensive role. He also notes that "limited numbers of qualitatively superior Tiger IIs could simply not stem the flood of enemy armor," which is more obvious, than incisive. As a follow-up, he notes that the creation of these tanks led to the post-war creation of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) concept during the Cold War, which were essentially very improved heavy tanks. Much of this volume is interesting, both due to the celebrity nature of these weapons and the relative obscurity of Operation Solstice, but the delivery does not really answer the mail as far as the Duel equation is concerned. I don't think anyone reading this book will come away with a definite impression about which tank was superior or whether their presence on this battlefield really made any difference.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview of King Tiger and IS-2, August 24, 2011
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This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
The German Tiger tank is one of the most infamous of WW2, yet fewer than 1500 were produced. The King Tiger II's massive size and angular shape also has captured the imagination of many, 492 were made, but is massive . Lesser known, the IS-2 saw limited service, "only" 4,392 were produced. The Tiger II was a seriously amped up version of the Tiger 1, whereas the IS-2 borrowed the KV-1 hull, a slapped together cannon of 122mm which barely matched the 88mm cannon on the Tiger 1. (For additional details of the development of the IS-2, see Steven Zaloga's book IS-2).

By far the best features of this book are the color 3-D cutaways of the turrets of each tank. There are good, albeit small photos of the inside, the B&W photos are for the most part clear & crisp. Soviet WW2 photos tend to be grainy. The author gives good, concise summaries of the firepower, protection and mobility of each tank. The Germans put the priority in those order. The L71 88mm cannon could take out any Allied tank at over 2,000 m. At 67 tons, the King Tiger weighed as much as the early M-1 Abrams tanks. Due to low ammo velocity and poor optics, the IS-2 could destroy the King Tiger once it got to within 1,000 m and then only from the side. 90% of Tiger II's were lost due to mechanical failure, lack of fuel, whereas the other 10% were destroyed in action. Impressive kill ratio.

Tactics of both sides are reviewed, specifically within the context of the German attack in 1945, an operation that failed, but demonstrated the potential of the King Tiger. Soviets and Germans tended to use these tanks as fire brigades. It is amazing what a few well placed King Tigers can do to enemy formations. Color computer drawn maps help illustrate the tactics and battles in the text. The summary contains a very good overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each tank. In the end, no tank is immune on the battlefield, so do you want one tank that can knock out nine and win a battle or 10 tanks that will win the war?

Although King Tiger vs IS-2 faceoffs were rare, this is a very good overview of each tank, the tactics and late war situation faced by the Soviets and Germans. Highly recommended for all armor buffs, it's a very good comparison of the weapons and design philosophies of both combatants.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improper title, November 2, 2011
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This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
I was disappointed (deceived ?) by what the title entitled to. I expected more of an action account with veterans' experiences and testimonies. I thought I'd get the feel of what it was like to serve in one of these two emblematic machines.

Instead I found myself amidst the obscure meanders of operation "Sonnenwende". My interest in the Tiger II and its opponent quickly dissolved into the encirclement of Arnswalde and its ..... disencirclement.
The expected and heralded tank duel is replaced by tank corps battles, Germanic corps against Guards corps, attacks and counter-attacks.
I simply do not see how General Wenck's tactics and the confrontation between King Tigers and IS-2s corroborate.

The choice of photos is modest to say the least. Also I do not see the relation between the title of the book and the publication of three photos depicting "Panzerknacker" combat techniques. What's more, against T-34s.
Though I am sure T-34/ 85s were involved in operation Sonnewende, what has it got to do with Tiger IIs and IS-2s duel ??

Four stars is generous in my view. Four to encourage the author to ameliorate his skills with respect to avid but nonetheless demanding readers.

Bon courage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, January 25, 2013
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This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
As a WWII history buff and military modeler this book was very informative and helpful with pictures, characteristics, battles, stats, etc... on these two mamoth fighting machines.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Battle Of The Behemoths..., September 26, 2011
By 
Karolus Magnus (Southern CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
A nice addition to the series. Contains lots of technical information about these two competing tank programs but as the others have noted very little tank-vs-tank encounters. Of course, that's perfectly understandable, this is the Eastern Front we're talking about. Highly recommended for rookies not so much for veterans.

I was kinda disappointed that it didn't show unique artwork (like turret markings and such) and new unpublished photos. Oh well...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version lacking, buy printed, December 4, 2014
By 
scott "scott" (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this book and the historical perspective it provided. I would offer 5-stars except that I bought the Kindle digital version, where the detailed exploded views of the print book are not faithfully reproduced. For this type of book this is a serious omission I wish Amazon would resolve. Until then, buy the print version.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the big clash, October 18, 2013
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This review is from: King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) (Paperback)
Certainly a nice volume in the VS series, with the usual insight into all aspects as development, production and use, but as the BIG clash, Operation Solstice is not convincing. The participants may judge.
As an insight in the IS-2 very welcome, since Russian armor remained long obscure. Not the action but data makes this book valuable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More of a technical book...., January 7, 2013
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Very detailed info about both tanks. Very little information about performance against each other. Was enjoyable and I am not a history buff, or expert of World War II. Casual reading if interested.
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King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel)
King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel) by Dave Higgins (Paperback - August 23, 2011)
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