FERDINAND AND ELEFANT Tank Destroyer – Reviewed by Mark Barnes

Here’s something of a heavyweight book from Osprey that seems quite appropriate given the girth of the subject matter.  Right from off the book

is deceptive because it looks at  a whole lot more than just the armour of the title and includes a bevy of types to varying degrees of depth. The author has a long history of interest in German armoured vehicles and both his knowledge and enthusiasm are quite apparent.

There are heaps of illustrations and, I have to say, there is an awful lot to look at.

The text moves along at an acceptable pace and I found the technical stuff easy to follow and more importantly it isn’t boring.

Officially known as the Schwerer Panzerjager Tiger (P), the Ferdinand was based on the Porsche 100, a design that didn’t excite the Nazis procurement officialdom very much. The type is probably best known for its role in the vast expanse of the battlefield of Kursk where a good number of these tank destroyers were knocked out themselves. The author takes us down the decision-making path that followed when the Ferdinand was revised as the Elefant. I’ve said this before, but the Germans knack of spreading themselves thin by building too many types instead of sticking to fewer models is easily exhibited by these events. I suppose that like so many things it all made sense at the time.

Impressive as the Ferdinand and Elefant are, the author also finds room to digress into the realms of Sturmpanzers, a variety of specialised Panzer IV types and Borgward demolition vehicles. While I found all this a little bit distracting, I am not complaining because the reading of it is all sound education as far as I am concerned.

The outstanding archive imagery in this book lives up to the high standards Osprey are known for and my mate Ted, a skilled and devoted model maker, will absolutely love it. I won’t pretend I find ‘tank books’ in general the most engaging of reads but I am quite content with this one and if these vehicles are close to your heart then this book is an absolute must.  Top marks.

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online.

Tank Destroyer
By Thomas Anderson
Osprey Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 978 14728 0721 2
Available in e-book and epub formats


Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.