Books best avoided: Steel Steeds Christie

31AdPdFN25L._SL500_BO1,204,203,200_Lately I have been thinking a good deal about the role of Walter J. Christie in pre-WWII tank development.  As I have been attempting to assemble as much information concerning Christie as I can, I discovered that in the mid 1980’s, Christie’s son Edward wrote a short book about his father’s career called “Steel Steeds Christie.”  This book was published by a vanity press and is now quite rare and expensive.  Fortunately, ARMOR magazine featured a review of this book back in the Jan-Feb 1986 issue.  The review, by retired Col, Leo D. Johns, is quite negative, prompting a number of replies from both Edward Christie defending his book, and other readers posting even harsher reviews than the original one by Col, Johns.  I have reprinted the original review below as well as the various letters to the editor concerning the book.  I have provided these letters in part as a warning to anyone thinking about shelling out the dough to purchase a copy of this rare book, but primarily because I think these letters are really quite entertaining.

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World of Tanks: Virtually Inside the Tanks videos

fish eyeWorld of Tanks has released a new website featuring a series of videos titled “virtually inside the tanks.”  These videos feature WoT personalities Nick Moran (The Chieftain) and Richard Cutland (The Challenger) as they ride around inside a tank.  The videos are filmed with a series of cameras, providing a rotatable panoramic view of the inside of the vehicle.  This filming technique creates a very strong “fisheye” effect which is frankly a bit disorientating.  That said, people may find these videos informative and they do provide some good images of the vehicle interiors, albeit a distorted one.  Currently the line up of vehicles featured in this series included the Leopard 1, the Chieftain, the M4 “Fury”, the T-34 and the T-55.

To view the videos, click here. 

How to buy a Russian tank

2341The past couple weeks have seen a few articles in the media about “how to buy a Russian tank.”  Wired ran an article on the topic which seemed to garner a far amount of traffic.  The article focuses on the relatively inexpensive former Soviet equipment being offered by Mortar Investments, a Prague-based dealer of military vehicles and gear.  The Wired article describes the process of purchasing one of these Czech tanks as:

Ordering starts with a 30 percent deposit and a two-month wait as the Czech authorities work through their end of the paperwork.

Then four things need to happen before your baby comes home. No surprise, this involves forms. You’ll need an Application and Permit for Importation of Firearms, Ammunition and Implements of War from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Plus an International Import Certificate from the US Department of Commerce.

Second amendment or no, you can’t have your tank sent over before someone strips out the machine guns and cuts a hole in the cannon. And somebody needs to wipe the thing free of dirt to please the US Department of Agriculture.

You have to ship the thing. Mortar Investments estimates it costs $15k to the East Coast, $20k to Houston, and $25k to the West Coast. Your tank will arrive at the seaport closest to you, at which point you make yourself known to trucking companies through a series of peculiar phone calls.

The Wired article can be read here.

Just for fun, we did a price check on vehicles over at the Mortar Investments page.  We found the following:

T-72  $50,097

T-55  $44,531

T-34/85  $44,531

SU-100  $72,363

BMP-1  $38,965

2S1 Gvozdika  $22,266

VT-34 Recovery vehicle  $27,832

VT-55 Recovery vehicle $19,482

UK 1940: Cranes into Self Propelled Guns?

Over at the Status Report blog, researcher “Volketten” has created a post about an ill conceived plan to convert a grab crane into a gun carrier in the UK in 1940.


h2pMTSDIn 1940 Britain was fighting for its life and a multitude of good and not so good ideas were put forward to develop new armored vehicles to meet the needs of home defense and the British Army overseas. Lincolnshire was a hub of development at the time from a variety of companies and one of them was the firm of Ruston-Bucyrus. Founded in 1930 the firm was a merger of the Lincolnshire firm of Ruston and Hornby (who had already had some experience with track laying vehicles in WW1 during the development of early British tanks) and the American firm of Bucyrus-Erie of Bucyrus, Ohio.

They specialized in vehicles for earth-moving and excavation mainly track based although there were a couple of walking machines. By 1940 they were already placed under contract to build some British Cruiser tanks but they also tried to develop their own expertise in cranes for a more military use and the vehicle chosen to prototype the design was an old rusting RB-10 grab crane.

Read the full post here.

Video: Tankfest 2015

The Mighty Jingles has released a video about the recent Tank Fest event at the Tank Museum in Bovington England.

From the Vault: STRV 104 (S Tank) users manual comic book

2mLTLYkToday we present “A day with the Strv 103” comic book from 1970.  Think of this as the “tigerfibel” for the S tank.  The text is in Swedish of course, but the pictures are quite entertaining.  Thanks to the Swedish Tank Archives for scanning and posting this document.

Click here to go to the gallery for “A day with Strv 103”

Serbia sells 282 T-55 tanks to Pakistan?

T-55H_Partner_2007An article on In News is reporting that Serbia has reportedly agreed to modernize and sell 282 obsolete T-55 tanks to Pakistan.  According to the article, the contract is worth tens of millions of dollars and that the proceeds from the sale will be used by Serbia to purchase new weapons.  The Chief of the Defense Technology in the Ministry of Defence, Major General Bojan Zrnic indirectly confirmed the sale, saying “It is true that there was an agreement in principle for the sale of 282 tanks from the arsenal of retired and obsolete military equipment, but I do not want to talk about with which country and the army this deal was made. It would not be appropriate because the contract has not been signed. What can I say is that the offer is extremely favorable for the Army of Serbia as the tanks will not be sold in its current state, they will be modernized first. This task will be entrusted to our defense industry.”  No details are given in the article as to what sort of modifications the Serbians will be making on these vehicles in order to modernize them.  It is probably safe to assume the modernization will be similar to their T-55H variant.

Read the full article here.

Video: Abrams rolls over car bomb

This video showed up on youtube today.  We have no idea when this footage was taken or if it has appeared online before.

War is Boring article on T-55

imagesThe blog War is Boring has a new article on the history of the T-54/55.  Like most articles on War is Boring, this is not an in-depth article nor does it delve much into technical matters concerning the tank.  However, people may find it an entertaining quick read.  We did take the liberty of posting in the comment section of the article pointing out the authors error in referring to the T-34 suspension as a “leaf spring” system.


Like the AK-47 but for tanks, T-54 and T-55s endure on battlefields around the world. Simple to operate and maintain, these decades-old Soviet armored beasts are still popular in small nations and with non-state irregular forces — a true “people’s tank.”

If a coup or fratricidal civil war breaks out in one of Moscow’s current or former beneficiaries, there’s good chances T-54 or T-55s are taking part.

When Afghanistan collapsed in the 1990s, the Taliban and Northern Alliance coalition both inherited T-55s formerly belonging to the communist government. The tanks served in Yugoslavia’s multi-sided civil war during the same decade.

Today, captured Iraqi and Syrian T-55s serve under the black flag of Islamic State and other rebel groups fighting in the region. For these insurgent armies, the 60-year old tanks are just as useful as far more modern designs such as the M1 Abrams.

Read full article here.

Satire: Patton translated into modern business/military speak

hqdefaultEvery once in a while we like to take a break from our usual content and present something humorous.  Recently in an online forum, we were discussing the latest issue of ARMOR and how much the style of writing has changed over the years.  In our opinion, military writing has become far too laden with buzz words and business-speak, resulting in articles that are far more effective as sleeping aids than as ways of transmitting useful information.  I issued a challenge to the other forum members to rewrite Patton’s famous Blood and Guts speech in the style of modern officer-speak.   A forum participant by the name of xthetenth rose to the challenge, providing the following rendition.  We present it here in a paragraph by paragraph comparison with the original.  We hope you find it as amusing we we did.


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