Book Alert: Hunnicutt “Firepower” Reprint Edition

Echo Point books has announced that they are releasing a limited edition reprint of Richard Hunnicutt’s classic book on US heavy tanks, “Firepower.”  This edition of the book differs from the other Echo Point Hunnicutt reprints in that it is done in partnership with World of Tanks.  Nicholas Moran, researcher for Wargaming NA has provided a new forward for this edition as well as providing improved images scanned from the National Archives.  This edition is available for pre-order from the Echo Point website for $52.95.  This is a hardcover edition and is listed to ship in April.

Here is an excerpt from the new edition written by World of Tanks researcher Nicholas Moran.

firepower_cvr_web“It was in the early 2000s that I had the honor of meeting Mr Hunnicutt at a gathering of tank enthusiasts at the then-Littlefield Collection. Had I known then what I know now, I would have paid much more attention to the genial old chap who seemed to have near-celebrity status amongst my companions, and less to the tanks. Over time, as my interest in the history of armoured vehicles developed, I began to understand why he was the focus of such attention. “Hunnicutt” has become synonymous with being the last word of recorded US armored vehicle development, and until now his works have commanded very high prices on the used-book market, with good reason.

It has been only after I have started to do my own research into AFV development, digging in the various archives, that I have truly understood the special nature of his books. To begin with, there is the task of collating all the data, of which there are massive amounts, and, worse, sadly not always well organized in the archives. Part of the credit for preservation of the data goes to folks who violated process and protocol, keeping collections and copies which may otherwise have been destroyed to save space, or remained classified simply because nobody bothered to de-classify old documents. I have personally recently encountered 1950s documents which appear in this volume in the classified section of the National Archives (Since de-classified). Even the mechanics of collecting the data is worthy of a raised eyebrow: I have several hundred rolls of film he used to make copies for his records in the days before good-quality photo-copiers or scanners, which must have taken notable time and expense, all done with no guarantee of repayment. Then, once collected, the data has to be sorted and the information to be published extracted, itself a time-consuming process. And, finally, the book itself has to be written.

Firepower is a book of particular interest. That the United States Army had a significant heavy tank program seems to have been a fact almost lost to history were it not for this book, and perhaps the occasional curiosity of someone in Fort Knox wondering what those big tanks sitting as monuments around post were, or maybe of people driving past the Mile of Tanks at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Firepower thus became in effect the public guardian of the knowledge, and the primary source document for the appropriate vehicles incorporated into World of Tanks.

World of Tanks itself seems to have been the impetus for a renewed public interest in the history of US tank development, with likely millions of people becoming aware of many of these experimental heavy tanks through the game. However the opportunities to learn more about them were limited due to the scarcity and cost of used copies of Firepower. Copies were hoarded like manuscripts at a monastery during the dark ages of tank ignorance, with possession of one being a matter of pride as an indicator of being a serious tank enthusiast. It seems perhaps fitting, then, that we can help repay the service that Mr Hunnicutt gave us at Wargaming with Firepower by helping make Firepower more accessible to those people who want to learn more about the real-world history of the vehicles. After all, the more people who know the real history, the better.”

 

Stars and Stripes: Germany’s Leopard tanks prove vulnerable in Islamic State fight

Stars and Stripes has posted an article on German made Leopard 2 tanks in service with Turkey being destroyed in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria.

c0efwp5wiaao1_zKAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The reputation of Germany’s vaunted Leopard 2 tank, which forms the mainstay of NATO’s armored forces, has taken a pounding in battles with Islamic State militants in Syria.

At least 10 of the 60-ton main battle tanks have been destroyed during a Turkish attempt to recapture the strategically important northern town of al-Bab, located just 15 miles south of the Turkish border, media reports have said.

The Turks have deployed several thousand soldiers in the operation, which began in September. But despite airstrikes by Russian warplanes in support of the advancing troops, they have been unable to take the town in the face of determined opposition.

Several dozen Turkish soldiers and local allies have died in the combat. Germany’s Die Welt newspaper said at least 10 Leopard 2s were destroyed and many others damaged in street fighting on the outskirts of al-Bab. The rebels are said to have used both U.S.-made TOW and Russian Kornet anti-tank missiles in attacks on the tanks.

Read the full article at Stars and Stripes.

Overlord’s Blog: Spank the Tank

From Overlord’s Blog comes this post recounting an action from 1942 by some Royal Engineers versus Axis tanks in North Africa.

mhxwzevIn late November 1942 , twenty sappers of the 1st Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers were picking their way across the Tunisian landscape. Overhead a bright moon bore down, and the peaceful night sky was frosted with stars. Their mission was to emplace mines and set up an anti-armour ambush on a road. This road led to an harbour area with a large number of Axis forces, including tanks. Once these forces were in place two companies of Para’s, covered by a section of three inch mortars and supported by some ex Vichy Senegalese infantry whom had decided to join up with the Paras, would launch a frontal assault on the Axis position. The harbour was on the slopes of a place called Gue Hill.

It was similar to an ambush launched about a week earlier. They had convinced the German forces near Béja that the Paratroop force was actually three times its size, by the simple expedient of marching through the town three times, but switching headgear each time. The Para’s had moved to Mateur where they got word of a large German convoy protected by armoured cars that had moved past. So they mined the road and when the convoy returned they attacked with Gammon bombs and small arms. This resulted in several captured German armoured cars and quite a haul of POW’s.

First World War battle tank commander’s papers published

From the Haslemere Herald comes this article about the papers of a British WWI tank commander that were recently published.

major-allen-holford-walker-c1916-courtesy-of-alan-holford-walker-c-national-army-museumTHE papers of a Somme tank commander who married his sweetheart in Farnham before fighting on the Western Front have been published for the first time by the National Army Museum.

Major Allen Holford-Walker, originally from Essex, married Joan Barrington Moody in Farnham soon after the outbreak of war in 1914.

As a tank commander on the Somme, serving with The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in honour of his mother’s Scottish heritage, he later fought in both the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and the Battle of Ancre in late 1916.

His papers, which include photos, diaries and letters, give a first-hand account of the earliest days of tank warfare, as the British struggled to make the most of their new weapon.

Read the full article at the Haslemere Herald.

Photo of the Day: Grow a Stug in your garden

This picture comes from the Live Journal page of Russian researcher Yuri Pasholok.  A rather unusual item to find in a garden!

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Video: How to stop a tank using felled trees

This short video has been posted by a few different online news sources.  A fun little video showing Canadian and US army engineers constructing an anti-tank obstacle in a forest in Lithuania.

AFV News from around the Net

Here is another collection of recent news articles involving armored fighting vehicles.  One quick note about news sources.  In general, we try to avoid linking to RT or Sputnik International since their articles often are rather biased.  These  two news entities are essentially mouthpieces for the Putin regime, and have been criticized as propaganda by many Western journalists and scholars.  The inclusion of at Sputnik article in this list should not be construed as an endorsement by us of Sputnik International.  Simply, we thought it was an interesting news piece and offer it to our readers with a warning to take it with a grain of salt, acknowledging the problematic nature of the news source.

 

Defense News – Japan Unveils Armored Vehicle Prototype for ‘Counter Island Invasion’

download-2MELBOURNE, Australia — Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has unveiled a prototype eight-wheel drive armored personnel carrier (APC) as part of a research project for a new class of modular vehicles.  The project, known for now as the Wheeled Armoured Vehicle (Improved), will eventually lead to a new vehicle type to replace the Type 96 eight-wheel drive armored personnel carrier in use by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).  The new vehicle will feature improved protection against a variety of threats such as improvised explosive devices, versatility and room for future growth in capabilities compared to the Type 96 it is replacing. It will also be fitted with a more powerful engine and a strengthened suspension to cope with the increased weight and payloads.

 

Sputnik International – Thailand Says ‘No Thanks’ to Ukrainian Tanks, Chooses China Instead

1034993205Thailand’s Ministry of Defense has decided to terminate its contract with Ukraine for the purchase of several dozen T-84 Oplot main battle tanks, citing Kiev’s inability to deliver them on time, according to Thai media reports.  In 2011, Thailand signed a $241 million contract with the Kharkiv-based Malyshev Factory on the delivery of 49 T-84 ‘Oplot’ (‘Stronghold’) MBTs. The tanks were meant to become the backbone of Thailand’s tank forces, replacing the army’s 1957-vintage US-made M-41s, which are set to be decommissioned. However, after being plagued by never-ending problems with the delivery of the Ukrainian tanks, the Thai Defense Ministry has apparently decided to cancel the contract.

 

Next Reality – HoloLens Can Give Tank Crews 360-Degree X-Ray Vision on Missions

hololens-can-give-tank-crews-360-degree-x-ray-vision-missions-w1456As a commercial and potentially consumer product, one might assume it very unlikely to see the Microsoft HoloLens in the military marketplace. And that assumption would be completely wrong. One company from the Ukraine is currently working on using the mixed reality head-mounted computer for 360-degree vision inside armored tanks.  If a tank crew could see the entire battlefield there are in, they would likely have a better chance of accomplishing their mission and avoiding damage. Tanks are large, enclosed, metal shells, and visibility is a serious concern since each portal that is made for vision potentially weakens the vehicle and endangers the crew within.

 

UPI – Ukrainian army receives 50 BTR-3 armored vehicles

ukrainian-army-receives-50-btr-3-armored-vehiclesKIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 5 (UPI) — Ukraine’s state-owned defense contractor Ukroboronprom has transferred over 50 BTR-3 armored personnel carriers to the country’s armed forces.  The company completed manufacturing the vehicles in 2016. The products are armed with modernized weapon systems including 30mm guns and additional missile munitions, and were transferred to Ukraine’s army and national guard.  To support the production process, Ukrobornprom established a new manufacturing plant dedicated to BTR-3-related operations.

 

Scout.com – Army JLTV Armed With Lethal 30mm Cannon

oshkosh-jltv-22Army and Marine Corps may add a more-lethal 30mm cannon to its new JLTV to improve lethality for the emerging high-tech platform and better prepare it for large-scale, mechanized force-on-force warfare.  The Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is a new fast-moving armored vehicle engineered to take bullets, drive over roadside bombs and withstand major enemy attacks; the vehicle was conceived and engineered as a high-tech, more survivable replacement for large portions of its fleet of Humvees.