Osprey’s Duel series is a well-established line of books covering some of the more famous weapons that have faced each other in combat. The series started just over 9 years ago with the P-51 versus the FW-190, with this installment, Bazooka versus Panzer being one of their latest releases.
The books begins with a history of the U.S. Army’s development of the M1 Rocket Launcher, popularly called the “bazooka” by its developers and soldiers, due to its resemblance to 1930’s comedian Bob Burn’s musical instrument. The author explains how the weapon was rushed through development and testing, and sent them to the troops in North Africa without much explanation, or any training.
In fact, the development of the weapon was such a secret, one truckload of weapons sent to troops in the Kasserine Pass weren’t even touched prior to the battle, which resulted in the German’s capturing a full shipment of unopened bazookas. It is believed this shipment was sent back to Germany, where the weapon was reverse-engineered leading to the development of the Panzerschreck. These short-comings with the weapon’s original deployment led to improvements to crew safety, weapon accuracy and proper training before deployment for the Normandy invasion.
In addition to discussing the development of the bazooka, the book covers the various close defense weapons the Germans applied to their tanks. This section of the book includes some interesting photos of the various devices in action, as well as some diagrams to explain their design and use.
The last 30 pages, or so, are dedicated to detailing actions at the twin villages of Krinkelt-Rocherath, and the crossroads of Lausdell in the Ardennes on December 17 – 18, 1944. In particular, the American defense during the Battle of the Bulge at these two locations. While the bazooka wasn’t the deciding factor in the American’s being able to hold these key points, it did so its effectiveness in close combat, accounting for knocking out over 20 German armored vehicles.
Overall, this was a quick and interesting read. While the book did include numerous interesting photos, diagrams, and maps, I’m all for more photos even still. Still, I’d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the M1 Bazooka, and its development and use in the European theater. Thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS USA for this review copy.