Often it is assumed that Hitler's panzers stormed into action perfectly formed, driving through the armies of the Poles in 1939 and the French in 1940 and defeating them.
The dramatic blitzkrieg victories won by the Wehrmacht early in the Second World War - in which the panzers played a leading role - tend to confirm this impression.
But, as Anthony Tucker-Jones demonstrates in this illustrated, comprehensive and revealing history of the panzers, this is far from the truth. As armoured fighting vehicles the early panzers were no better than - sometimes inferior to - those of their opponents, but their tactics rather than their technology gave them an advantage.
Later on German tank designers developed technically superior tanks but these could not be built fast enough or in sufficient numbers.
For all their excellence, they were overwhelmed by the American Shermans and Soviet T-34s that were produced in their tens of thousands. This is the story Anthony Tucker-Jones relates as he traces the evolution of the panzers from the modest beginnings in the 1930s to the Panzer IVs, Panthers and Tigers which were the most formidable German tanks of the war.
Not only does he cover their design and production history, he also assesses their combat performance and gives a fascinating insight into the decision-making at the highest level which directed German tank design.