M48 vs Centurion: Indo-Pakistani War 1965 by David R. Higgins
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 featured the largest tank battles seen up to that point since the Second World War. However, these battles would soon be eclipsed in size and in the popular consciousness by the armored battles of the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973. While much ink has been spilled regarding the tank battle of the Arab-Israeli wars, far less has been written about the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Fortunately, author David Higgins seeks to fill the void with his new entry in the Osprey Duel series with M48 Patton vs Centurion: Indo-Pakistani War 1965.
While the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 may have some superficial similarities to the more well-known Arab-Israeli wars, there are some important differences. While M48 Patton tanks and Centurion tanks were used in both conflicts, in the Arab-Israeli wars both of these tanks were operated by the Israelis against Soviet built Arab operated tanks. The Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 features U.S. built Patton tanks lined up against British Centurion tanks, making it one of the few examples of a postwar armor conflict featuring Western built tanks on both sides. The other noticeable difference between the two conflicts was that the difference in crew training and quality was not nearly as pronounced in the Indo-Pakistani war as it was between Arab and Israeli forces.
The format of the book follows the same pattern as earlier Osprey Duel books and is Mr. Higgins fifth book in the series. A good deal of technical information is presented about both tanks, as is the norm in this series. While there are considerable differences between the two tanks, it becomes clear that they are fairly well matched adversaries. The Centurion and the M48 are both well-known and the technical descriptions of the vehicle may be “old hat” for well-read on the topic. That said, the vehicle descriptions are well written and contain some nice illustrations. The technical descriptions are followed by a section describing the history and organization of the Indian and Pakistani armored forces, information which will probably be new to many readers. This section is followed by a description of the events of the campaign, interesting reading of a war which has not been described often in other sources.
The conclusion of the book notes that neither vehicle proved itself as markedly superior to the other, factors such as morale, crew training and leadership being more important in determining the outcome of any particular engagement between the two combatants. The war was essentially a draw and while crews on both sides often fought bravely, higher level leadership was often tentative and ineffective on both sides. The book does not really say if Western observers took many lessons from this particular war, either in regards to the performance of the vehicles or the tactics used.
Available through Amazon for under $15, this book is well worth the price. By our count, Mr. Higgins is second only to Steven Zaloga in the number of tank themed “Duel” series books authored thus far. Based on this book and his previous entries in the series, we hope to see more “Duel” books from Mr. Higgins in the future.