Professor Porsche’s Wars, Karl Ludvigsen

Professor Porsche’s Wars, Karl Ludvigsen

To most students of military history Ferdinand Porsche is most famous for his Second World War tank designs, and in particular the failed Porsche Tiger and the vast Maus super-heavy tank. However this was only part of a much more extensive career as a designer of military equipment, which this biography concentrates on.

I didn’t actually know much about Professor Porsche’s life, starting with the fact he was Austrian, not German. I was also entirely unaware of his work during the First World War, where he produced aircraft engines and artillery tractors for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

During his career Porsche produced an impressive range of military products, but a surprisingly low proportion of them actually entered large scale production. During the Second World War the only one of his products that was produced on a significant scale was the Beetle based Kubelwagen, but even that was massively numbered by its American rival, the Jeep. The author makes the same point, largely to defend Porsche’s war record, and it is perhaps fortunate that much of his time was wasted on failed projects such as the various Porsche Tigers or the Maus.

The author does perhaps over-defend the various Porsche tank designs, which suffered from serious problems with the drive train that Porsche was unable to overcome, while the ‘Porsche’ turret adopted on the Tiger I was actually designed by Krupp. Otherwise the book is well balanced, acknowledging Porsche’s rather dubious position in the Third Reich, his closeness to Hitler and reliance on slave labour at his factories, as well as the excellence of many of his designs.

 

Chapters
1 - Porsche Meets the Military
2 - Power to the Dual Monarch
3 - Austrian in the Air
4 - Land Trains and Mortar Movers
5 - Advancing Aviation Power
6 - Mercedes Makes Military
7 - Army Tanks and Navy Twelves
8 - Porsche and Hitler Meet
9 - Third Reich Assignments
10 - Kubelwagen Takes the Road
11 - Masterpiece Schwimmwagen
12 - Leopards at Nibelung
13 - Fate of the Ferdinands
14 - Versatility and Variety
15 - The Mouse that Roared
16 - Cherrystone in Production
17 - Dispersal under Pressure
18 - Occupation and Resolution

Author: Karl Ludvigsen
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 296
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2018


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