Book Alert: Tank Action: An Armoured Troop Commander’s War 1944–45

A new WWII tanker memoir is scheduled for release on October 4, 2016 according to Amazon. Tank Action: An Armoured Troop Commander’s War 1944-45 by David Render (2016-06-16) by David Render and Stuart Tootal is a hardcover book of 320 pages.  The book chronicles the experiences of David Render, who commanded a troop of British Sherman tanks following the D-day invasion.

Publisher’s Description:

In 1944 the average life expectancy of a newly commissioned tank troop officer on the frontline in Normandy was estimated as being less than two weeks. David Render was a nineteen year-old second lieutenant fresh from Sandhurst when he was sent to France to join a veteran armoured unit that had already spent years fighting with the Desert Rats in North Africa. Joining the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry five days after the D-Day landings, the combat-hardened men he was sent to command did not expect him to last long. However, in the following weeks of ferocious fighting in Normandy, in which more than 90 per cent of his fellow tank commanders became casualties, his ability to emerge unscathed from countless combat engagements defied expectations and earned him his squadron’s nickname of the ‘Inevitable Mr Render’.

In Tank Action David Render tells his remarkable story, spanning every major episode of the last year of the Second World War in Western Europe, from the D-Day landings to the fall of Germany. Ultimately it is a story of survival, friendship and measuring up to the expectations of the men he commanded.

Photo of the Day: Panther converted into crane

Today’s POTD comes from a comment in a post from the Facebook page WWII Tanks/armored cars.  This image shows the hull of a Panther tank converted into a crane.  We assume this tank was converted from one of the Panther tanks that the French army operated for a few years in the late 1940’s.


AFV News from Around the Web

Here is another installment of AFV news from around the web.  Click on the title to go to the full article.


New Atlas – One Big Question: What goes into making a color-changing tank?

color-changing-tank-1At the Land Forces conference in Adelaide, Australia, earlier this month, a development in military tech was presented that brings auto-camouflaging tanks a step closer to reality. To find out more about the technology behind the idea, we asked Peter Murphy from the University of South Australia, who was involved in the research, a single question as part of our regular One Big Question series:  What goes into making a color-changing military tank?  The concept of color-changing tanks, able to change their camouflage pattern in real time in the battlefield to adapt to changing surroundings, is one of the holy grails of modern military deception. Even in the modern theatre of war, preventing initial detection by the human eye is the primary goal in deceiving the enemy.


Defense News – Contest, Not Sole-Source Buy, Likely in Turkish Tank Program

1684898_-_main-2ANKARA — In 2008, a privately owned Turkish armored vehicles producer, Otokar, signed a $500 million contract with Turkey’s procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) for the development of four prototypes that would become the country’s first indigenous, new-generation main battle tank. Both procurement officials and the industry viewed Otokar as the “natural contractor” for the serial production order that would follow the development deal. But things have taken a different turn since then.


War is Boring – Turkish Tanks Take a Pounding in Syria

1-7lxy5m_wt_clnzl0ibdnuaAnkara’s tanks have been in the news a lot this year, whether prowling the streets of the Turkish capital in a failed coup attempt, or taking missile fire from rebel fighters on the Syrian border.  Recently, Turkish armor crossed over into Syria and drove the Islamic State terrorist group from its last holdings along the Turkish border — and also fought with U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels, creating a frustrating diplomatic quandary for the White House.  It’s easy to see why Turkey’s tanks are so active. The country is facing one of its worst geopolitical crises in decades, and it also maintains an enormous tank force — more than 2,400 all told, greater than the tank forces of France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined.


The National Interest – Ukraine’s Tough T-84 Oplot-M Tank Won’t Fight Russia (And Is Being Sold to Thailand?)

ukraine_1Tank warfare is periodically declared obsolete in the face of the latest portable anti-tank weapons and the difficulty of transporting heavy vehicles to the battlefront. Just don’t tell that to Ukraine.  The intervention of Russian tanks in August 2014 into Kiev’s conflict with separatists in Eastern Ukraine reversed what was looking like an eventual government victory into a disastrous route. In January 2015, an assault by over 30 Russian tanks defeated defending Ukrainian armor and brought an end to the months-long siege of Donetsk International Airport.


BBC News – Belarus villagers complain of army tanks on lawn

_91445042_tankZaslonava in Vitsebsk Region is home to the 19th Guards Mechanised Brigade of the Belarusian Army, and local people have sent photos and video to the Tut.By news portal showing how tanks drive over pavements and churn up the grassy areas between blocks of flats.  “Military hardware rumbles past our houses constantly, even at night. It could be one tank, it could be a whole column,” pensioner Vasil Zhernosek told the site. “The route through the village is a short cut for them to get from one tank park to another, but what about us?”  Above all, he says local people are worried about their children, as the tanks pass within 150m (about 500ft) of a school. A video from the village shows a tank driving over a set of car tyres near the school before heading off across an already-damaged expanse of grass.


The National Interest – China’s Deadly Type 99 Tank vs. Russia’s T-90 and America’s M-1 Abrams: Who Wins?

type_99_mbt_front_left_0China has a lot of tanks. Like, eight to nine thousand of them.  Who else would bother to maintain such a ridiculous number?  The United States. And Russia. (Note that such counts include vehicles in storage and reserve. The numbers for tanks in operational units are lower in every case).  However, the majority of Beijing’s tanks are old designs, particularly Type 59 and 69 tanks more or less directly copied from the 50s-era Soviet T-54 tank. Such is their profligacy that I once had the pleasure of bumping into one in a children’s playground in Tianjin serving the needs of the (young) people.

Photo of the Day: M3 Grant at Americans in Wartime Museum

The POTD is a M3 Grant from the facebook page of Steve Zaloga who posted a number of photographs from this past weekend’s Americans in Wartime Museum open house in Nokesville, VA.


Book Alert: Tanks: 100 Years of Armoured Warfare

Amazon is listing an October 4 release for a new book covering a century of tank history. Written by David Willey (curator of the Bovington Tank Museum) and Robin Cross, Tanks: 100 Years of Armoured Warfare is a 132 page hardcover volume. Included in the book are 20 removable recreations of archival documents. Based upon the sample images provided, this book contains many photographs and charts. This looks like a very handsome product, probably best suited for those looking to learn the basics of tank development.

Publisher’s Description.

A century of the weapon that changed modern warfare.
In 1916, for the very first time, the tank entered the military arsenals at a small engagement on the Somme. And despite its shortcomings, it altered the course of World War I. Tanks charts the weapon’s first century, from its early stumbling attempts to the lethal killing machines of today: the technical developments, the various types and models, the tacticians who used it best, and the famous battles where they played a role. The book also contains 20 removable documents from the archives of the museum, including diaries from tank soldiers, blueprints, instruction manuals, and handbooks.

Video: Christopher Foss at DVD 2016

Here are a few videos featuring IHS Jane’s reporter Christopher Foss at DVD 2016 reporting on a few different AFVs, including the Patria AMV, the Terrex IFV, and the M777 Portee concept vehicle..





Book Review: French Tanks of the Great War

With all the attention recently on the 100th anniversary of the first tanks used in battle by the British in 1916, it may seem easy to forget that the French also had a tank program during the First World War.  While much ink has been spilled describing the British First World War tank program, comparatively little has been written about the French tank program in English.  Fortunately, French Tanks of the Great War: Development, Tactics and Operations by Tim Gale fills that void, presenting a detailed history of efforts by the French to develop tanks as well as describing the major actions where early French tanks saw combat.

This book is a 260 page hardcover volume.  While containing a few pages of photos and maps, this book will not be of much interest to modelers, at least as far as providing specific details of particular tank types.  However, it will be of great interest to those interested in the history of tank and AFV development of the First World War.  Important battles are described, including first-hand accounts from French tank crews.  Quite a bit of detail is included in these battle descriptions, often times reporting on the activities of specific tanks.  Battles described include the Nivelle Offensive, the Battles of Malmaison, The Matz, St Mihiel, Soissons and Champagne.  Also described are the actions of the French tanks operating with the US Army.

The first chapter deals with the development of the first French tanks, describing the individuals and governmental departments involved.  The figure of Jean Baptiste Eugene Estienne stands out in this section, a figure of great importance.  While most readers will be familiar with his name, this book makes it clear that Estienne was a figure of central importance of early French tank design, far more important than any single individual in the development of British WWI armor.

The following chapters are broken up by battle.  Each battle is well explained, combining an overview of the strategic situation followed by a description of the actual combat.  Tactics are explained, each battle being in some ways an experiment for the French forces, testing out tactical ideas for the deployment of their “Artillerie Speciale.”  The limitations of these early machines come sharply into focus for the reader in the battle descriptions.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the primary cause of tank causalities in these engagements is not enemy action but rather mechanical breakdown and getting bogged down in crater holes.  When enemy action is noted as destroying French tanks, the most common culprit seems to be German 77mm field guns moved into forward positions.  The short operating range of these early vehicles becomes quite apparent from the battle descriptions, as do the issues of lack of tank to tank communications and communications with supporting infantry.

While the British beat the French in introducing the first tanks to the battlefield, the importance of the French contribution to early armor development, both technical and doctrinal, should not be forgotten.  In particular, the contributions of Estienne should probably be given more emphasis in English language accounts then they generally receive.  In terms of technical achievements, the French FT-17 is likely the most important tank design of the war, heralding the transition from sponson carrying armored boxes to the more modern turreted tank concept.  Of course, all this is known to French tank enthusiasts who have French language histories of their armored vehicle heritage.  Up to now, early French tank history has been covered in English in smaller works such as the Osprey New Vanguard volume on French Tanks of World War I or within books covering a wider topic.  Now, English reading audiences finally have an in-depth account of French World War I tank history thanks to the efforts of Tim Gale.


Photo of the Day: Vitaly Kuzmin Military Blog

We recently came across the Vitaly Kuzmin Military Blog.  For those that like photos of Russian and Soviet armored vehicles, this site is very much worth checking out.  Many high quality pictures here arraigned in well organized categories.  For the POTD, we chose from the blog this picture of the Object 292.





Video: Christopher Foss on Challenger II LEP

IHS Jane’s reporter Christopher Foss talks about the Challenger 2 and the British Army’s plans for the Life Extension Program.

Walk around videos of M114, M3A1 and Ferret

East Coast Armory has posted a series of walk around videos on their youtube channel.  These clips show some nice exterior and interior detail on three different vehicles, the M114, the M3A1 and a British Ferret.  These videos may prove particularly of interest to model makers looking for reference material.