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US Armored Units in the North Africa and Italian Campaigns 1942-45 (Battle Orders) Paperback – August 29, 2006
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“Zaloga does an excellent job of breaking down and clarifying armor units' tables of organization... Though targeted at wargamers and modelers, the book is a worthwhile addition to a general WWII history library as well as one with a military vehicle emphasis.” ―John Adams-Graf, Military Trader Magazine
“The Italian and (later) North African Campaigns are undoubtedly an enormously rich vein for armor modellers. Not only for the sheer diversity of vehicles, but for the many new types of vehicles which were introduced during the battles in these theaters. In this book, the constantly-evolving tactical doctrine is examined along with good, concise information on the vehicle developments which took place along with an immensely useful source book of these two fascinating campaigns.” ―Jim Rae, Armorama (August 2006)
“...a very good survey of the WWII history of American mechanized warfare that focuses on an oft-neglected theater of operation.... The book is a worthwhile addition to a general WWII history library as well as one with a military vehicle emphasis.” ―Military Vehicles
About the Author
Steven J Zaloga was born in 1952, received his BA in history from Union College, and his MA from Columbia University. He has published numerous books and articles dealing with modern military technology, especially armored vehicle development. His main area of interest is military affairs in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in World War II, and he has also written extensively on American armored forces.
Top customer reviews
Obviously, this is a lot of information to convey in 96 pages, so despite its short length, the book is not a quick read. But the author's writing is very clear, and the book amply repays re-reading.
It is divided into 9 parts and an index: Introduction, The Mission, Preparations for War, Unit Organization, Command and Control, Tactics, Lessons Learned, Unit Status, and Further Reading.
The introduction discusses the experience of the US Army with tanks in the First World War, the status of tanks in the Army between the World Wars, and the upheaval that took place regarding them after the defeat of France by Germany in the summer of 1940. The book then goes on to cover the establishment of the first armored units of different types, their evolution before Pearl Harbor, their first battles, and the changes made as a result of that fighting. It then describes, briefly, the use of armor in Italy until the end of the war. The Unit Status chapter very concisely describes the history of each armor unit that fought in the Mediterranean Theater.
Per the usual Osprey fashion, the book is lavishly illustrated with many period photographs (a few of which are in color) well integrated with the text. They included things I had not seen elsewhere, such as artillery-style "donkey sights" for Sherman tanks. It also has 5 maps: Operation Torch, 1st Armored at Faid Pass, Tank Destroyers at El Guettar, US Armor in the Anzio Beachhead, and 1st Armored's operations from June 1944 until May 1945.
There are clear tables of organization for the armored divisions and their sub-units at various dates, and tables of equipment for both vehicles and weapons, going down to jeeps, trailers, and pistols. Radio equipment is also interestingly discussed. (I had no idea the Connecticut State Police had pioneered the use of FM radios, for instance. Such radios were a distinct advantage to the US tank force.)
This book was published in 2006, and Dr. Zaloga has since covered many of these topics in greater detail. For example, he has written individual Osprey books on both the Tank Destroyer force and the independent Tank Battalions, and his magisterial "Armored Thunderbolt" covers the genesis of the US armored divisions and the evolution of the Sherman tank. But even though I had read all the aforementioned books before I read this one, I still found this book interesting and valuable, not redundant.
I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about how US armor became what it was in the Second World War, and how and why it differed from the armored forces of other nations.