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Cherry Pop

'The War Zone: Historic Tanks & Battles of WWII'
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / Eagle Vision)

Overview: Through the use of rare archive film, 3D graphics, and unique insights from leading authorities on armored warfare, 'Historic Tanks & Battles Of WWII' examines the evolution of the tank, as well as the variety of its incarnations.

DVD Verdict: For all "fans" of World War II, 'The War Zone: Historic Tanks & Battles of WWII' showcases, in great depth and modern day style, how the tank was first introduced to the battlefield during World War I. The, by World War II, the evolution of the tank had progressed so much that it became one of the most feared weapons on the ground.

This highly impressive, beautifully detailed three disc DVD boxed set not only examine the variety of tanks developed prior to and during the war, including Germany's Steel Tigers, Britain's Churchill Tank, Russia's T34 and the Sherman Tank from The United States, but also featured are programs spotlighting three battles where tanks established themselves as major components for both sides: The Battle of Kursk, The Battle of Normandy, and The Ardennes Offensive.

The first disc gives us the inner workings of The Sherman Tank: The Workhorse, The Churchill Tank: Britain Fights Back, and The T34 Tank: Russia's Cutting Edge. Clocking in at @ 140 minutes, we learn that iconic American Sherman Tank was employed in all theaters of the conflict by the US Army and Marine Corps, as well as most Allied nations. Considered a medium tank, the Sherman initially mounted a 75mm gun and had a crew of five. In addition, the M4 chassis served as the platform for several derivative armored vehicles such as tank retrievers, tank destroyers, and self-propelled artillery.

We then learn that The Churchill Tank was actually initially envisioned as a tank that would support infantry engaged in the kind of trench-style fighting seen in World War I. However, the Infantry Tank Mark IV Churchill evolved into a lighter, well-armored fighting vehicle, variants of which were deployed throughout World War II. Furthermore, we learn that Russia's The T34 Tank was, by far, the best tank design in World War II. In addition to having an excellent combination of firepower, armor, mobility, and shape, its superb technical design, which emphasized simplicity and durability, made it possible to mass produce it in enormous numbers, and gave it very high field and combat reliability, two critical attributes which the advanced German tanks lacked. It was the main war winning weapon of Russia in World War II.

On the second disc (@ 142 minutes), we get an indepth look at these tanks nicknamed as Steel Tigers, Sturmgeschutze and Panzerjaeger, and Sturmartillerie. Given that they are all the common names of German heavy tanks developed in 1942 and used in World War II, we discover it was actually the Sturmartillerie that were utilized the most. The fast moving Panzer Grenadier formations of the Blitzkrieg needed a mobile, well armored artillery presence to support their lightning strikes, and it was these Sturmartillerie's that were used in such a front line capacity.

The third, and final disc (@ 156 minutes) goes into great detail about the three (3) major tank-governed battles during World War II: The Battle Of Kursk, The Battle Of Normandy, and The Ardennes Offensive. The first one, The Battle Of Kursk, which took place in July of 1943, was to be the biggest tank battle of World War Two. Indeed, the battle resulted in a severe crisis for Nazi Germany’s war machine in Russia.

The Battle Of Normandy, also known more commonly overseas as the Invasion of Normandy, was a battle that saw en masse of Allied Forces in Normandy, France during World War II from June 6th, 1944 until the Allied breakout in July, 1944. The invasion was part of Operation Overlord during World War 2 and was the largest amphibious operation in the history of modern warfare.

The last battle depicted is The Ardennes Offensive, which is also known for it's involvement in The Battle of The Bulge, and most notably for being ultimately referred to as "Hitler's last gamble." Interestingly enough, the French named it the Bataille des Ardennes ("Battle of the Ardennes") and The Allies called it the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The phrase "Battle of the Bulge" was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the best known name for the battle. This is a Standard Version Presentation (4:3) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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