Book Alert: “Everything worked like clockwork…”: The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942

While we try to keep track of all the new books coming out, sometimes one slips past our notice.  In this case, the new book “Everything worked like clockwork…”: The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942 (Wolverhampton Military Studies) came out last month without us doing a book alert on it.  This is a 328 page hardcover from Helion and Company authored by Roger Salmon.

Publisher’s Description:

The mechanization of British and Household Cavalry regiments took place between the two World Wars and on into 1942. This book describes the process by which many horsed cavalrymen were retrained to operate and fight in Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) and the experiences of some of the men and regiments involved. Extensive use has been made of regimental and War Office archives, and particularly from the Imperial War Museum’s sound archives – the oral testimonies of soldiers who had experienced this huge change. A small number of veterans are, or were, still living and were interviewed by the author for this work. The reason given for the delay in cavalry mechanization – cited in some military histories and much influenced by the writings of Sir Basil Liddell Hart – was the reluctance by the cavalrymen to part with their horses and their technophobic attitude.

This book tests the accuracy of this assertion, together with what was the availability of suitable and sufficient armored fighting vehicles to replace the cavalry’s horses. Of special interest is the examination of the historical papers of the tank manufacturers Vickers, held at the Cambridge University Library, regarding tank development and production. This story of mechanizing the cavalry has been set against the backdrop of the social, economic and political climate of the 1920s and 1930s, and the pressure on politicians of the wider franchise and public opinion. In researching this aspect, the Britain by Mass Observation archives – held at the University of Sussex – have been most illuminating. The interwar impact on cavalry mechanization; the role of the British Army in general; disarmament; and rearmament are describe – again with illustrations from oral testimonies.

Photo of the Day: Chrysler Sherman Tank Ad

Today the POTD is not actually a photo but rather an old advertisement from Chrysler Corp that appeared in the Feb 1944 issue of Popular Science.  We have a fondness for old ads featuring US tanks, this is a particularly fun one.  This ad is about the M4A4 variant of Sherman tank equipped with the Chrysler A57 multi-bank engine.  The Multi-bank consisted of five 6-cylinder in-line Chrysler engines mounted together to generate a total of 470 horsepower.  The ad is somewhat inaccurate in that the M4A4 was not used by US forces overseas but rather was restricted to training duty or given as lend lease equipment, primarily to the British.


UK may purchase Boxer 8X8 from Germany

cd47c186c79d809c717463f1a167c111Several news sources are reporting that the UK is seriously considering the purchase of 800 German-built Boxer 8×8 multi-role armored vehicle.  The deal would be worth 3 billion Pounds, each vehicle costing 4 million Pounds apiece.  Reports note that the British MoD are attempting to fast track this purchase by making it a single-source contract, effectively cutting out competitors such as the Patria of Finland, Nexter Systems of France and ST Kinetics from Singapore.  The urgency of this purchase is said to be the result of fears of a further drop in the value of the British Pound due to the economic effects of the Brexit.  The Boxer would replace the cold-war era FV430 series and the CVR(T) series.  Attempts have been made to replace these vehicles several times in the past, resulting in failure due to budget cuts and internal disagreements about requirements.  This new plan to purchase the Boxer also has critics.  According to Russia Today:

“The MoD is at risk of making a very poor decision, and making it for all the wrong reasons,” a defense industry source told the Times. “A single-source contract would be pursued only because it’s an easy and quick option.” The source claimed that a competition could be timely and save taxpayers “up to 40 per cent on a £3 billion ($3.66bn) programme”.

“The army is in a rush because this has taken decades,” said another insider. “It is nervous the money will go and then the heart of the transformation of the army that [Chief of Staff General] Nick Carter has in mind is in jeopardy because they are going to have a force that doesn’t fit together.”

For more information, here are articles on this story from International Business Times, Defense and Russia Today.

Video: M8 Armored Gun System

This video from DefenseWebTV appeared on youtube today.  The video features a BAE rep explaining the upgrades of their improved version of the M8 Armored Gun System.  The M8, also known as the  Buford, was originally selected as the US Army’s replacement for the M551 Sheridan light tank back in the 1990’s.  Unfortunately, the M8 program never received funding, thus preventing it from entering production.  Originally produced by FMC, the M8 is now owned by BAE who brought it back into the spotlight by featuring it at the 2015 AUSA expo.

Tank Chats #27 Light Tank Mark IIA

Here is another episode of the Tank Chats series of videos featuring David Fletcher of the Tank Museum.

From the Vault: A Day in the Life of a Tanker – 1918

The recent marking of the centenary of the first tanks used in combat has resulted in an increase in interest in WWI tank crew accounts.  Here is one of an American tank crewman from 1918 that was published in the Sept-Oct 1973 issues of ARMOR.  This two page article recounts the experiences of Sergeant Carl Rosenhagen of Company “C” 301st Heavy Tank Corps.  We have posted the pages as images below, or people may download a PDF version here (article is on page 104).  A longer version of this account is available in the book War Stories of the Tankers: American Armored Combat, 1918 to Today by Michael Green.


AFV News from around the Net

Here is a collection of some recent articles concerning tanks and AFVs that are circulating the internet.  Click on the headline to read the full article.


Defense News – Italian Parliament Weighs New Tanks, Helicopters

_dsc1923ROME — The Italian army is a step closer to acquiring new tanks and assault helicopters after plans for the purchases were submitted for parliamentary approval.  On Oct. 11 the defense commission of the lower house of the Italian parliament began debating plans by the Italian military to buy the Centauro II tank and an updated version of its A-129 Mangusta helicopter.  The Centauro II is a wheeled tank which boasts improvements on the Centauro tank already in service with the Italian army.  The commission, which has until November 8 to offer an opinion on the purchases, was once just a rubber-stamping operation for military investments, but under 2012 legislation was given more influence over acquisition.


Colorado Springs Gazette – Fort Carson Strykers vs. Russian tanks: Are they strong enough to stop them?

r960-f36f578a9e2bb4a40ae19b60f6fc55d0Declining defense budgets along with 15 years of battling terrorists and insurgents have left a more lightly armed Army with the prospect of facing columns of Russian tanks if war erupts in Europe.  And even as Fort Carson troops train to be the first to fight if the nation heads to war overseas, politicians and pundits are debating whether the formations we’ll send are strong enough to be more than a speed bump for America’s potential enemies.  “The short answer is, no, they are not a replacement for heavy forces for a fight in Europe,” said Steve Bucci, a defense expert for the right-leaning Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.


The National Interest – What Makes Japan’s Type 10 Tank So Good

type_10As a nation that produced exceptionally poor tanks during World War II, Japan during the postwar period had quite a reputation to overcome. Wartime tanks such as the Type 97 “Chi-Ha” were a decade or more behind the rest of the world during a period of exceptionally quick tank development.  As Japan rebuilt industry and specialized in cars and trucks, it also built up a cottage tank industry to replace American M4A3E8 and M24 tanks donated to the Ground Self-Defense Force. The Type 61, Type 74, Type 90 and now the Type 10 tanks have all been credible designs more than capable of turning the tanks of Japan’s potential adversaries into smoldering scrap. Remarkably, each design bears little in common with previous versions.


UPI – Estonia receives first armored vehicles from Netherlands

estonia-receives-first-armored-vehicles-from-netherlandsTALLINN, Estonia, Oct. 11 (UPI) — An initial batch of CV9035 infantry fighting vehicles purchased by Estonia from the Netherlands have arrived in the Baltic nation.  The 12 vehicles, together with an armored recovery vehicle, arrived by boat and were being transported to the 1st Infantry Brigade at Estonia’s Tapa Army Base.  Estonia signed a contract with the Netherlands for the purchase of 44 used CV9035NL IFVs and six Leopard 1 tank-based support vehicles in late 2014 for 113 million euros.  All the vehicles, which will be delivered by 2018, are to undergo maintenance and repairs before arriving in Estonia, the Estonian Ministry of Defense said.


Defense – Army accelerates Active Protection Systems technology

abramstanksonthewaydrillssummerheatworkoutexercise-1The Army is fast-tracking an emerging technology for Abrams tanks designed to give combat vehicles an opportunity identify, track and destroy approaching enemy rocket-propelled grenades in a matter of milliseconds, service officials said.  Called Active Protection Systems, or APS, the technology uses sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and knock down or intercept incoming enemy fire such as RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, or ATGMs. Systems of this kind have been in development for many years, however the rapid technological progress of enemy tank rounds, missiles and RPGs is leading the Army to more rapidly test and develop APS for its fleet of Abrams tanks.


Defense – BAE Systems To Deliver First Armored Vehicle For US Army By This Year End

143457788_1475922696BAE Systems will be handing over the first of 29 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles (AMPV) to the US Army in December.  As of early October, one vehicle has been completed with nine vehicles on the production line, the company announced Friday.  These vehicles will be put through some 7,500 miles of contractor trials and 21,000 miles of US Army trials.
These prototype/pre-production AMPVs are being built under an Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) contract awarded in December 2014. Also competing for the AMPV was General Dynamics Land Systems. Critical Design Review has already been passed with a Milestone C decision due in financial year 2019.