Book Alert: South African Armour of the Border War 1975-89

A new entry in the Osprey New Vanguard series is scheduled for release on Thursday, Feb 23.  South African Armour of the Border War 1975-89 (New Vanguard) by Kyle Harmse and Simon Dunstan is the first New Vanguard title to explore armor in Sub-Saharan Africa.  As with other books in this series, this is a softcover book of 48 pages with numerous black and white and color photos and plates.  While Kyle Harmse is a new name to us, Simon Dunstan is quite familiar, having written over 50 books on military history as well as appearing in several TV documentaries.

Publisher’s Description:

The Border War saw the biggest armoured battles in Africa since World War II. Starting as a counter-insurgency operation by the South African Defence Force (SADF) against the South West Africa People’s Organisation, South Africa became embroiled in the complex Angolan Civil War, where they came up against enemies well supplied with equipment and armoured vehicles from the Soviet Union.

With the aid of stunning illustrations and photographs, this study details the characteristics, capabilities and performance of the wide variety of armoured vehicles deployed by the SADF, from the Eland armoured car to the Ratel infantry combat vehicle and the Olifant tank. Designed for the unique conditions of the region, South Africa’s armour was distinctive and innovative, and has influenced the design of counterinsurgency armoured vehicles around the world.

Frequently requested by Osprey readers, and written by two renowned experts on armoured vehicles, this will appeal to all those interested in modern armour and the Cold War proxy wars.

AFV News from around the Web (Historic Edition)

Here is a collection of recent article dealing with historic AFVs.  Click on the headlines to go to the full article.  A word of warning, the FOX article is full of errors.  We included it anyway, since it had a few interesting things in it.


Daily Echo – Top secret tank project launched in Purbeck – project leaders says ‘send us your photos of the Valentines’

imgid98663825-jpg-galleryDIVERS working on a project to map the wreckage of top secret D-Day tanks sunk in Poole Bay have appealed for help. The Valentine 75 Project was launched in Purbeck, last week, to find out more about the seven amphibious tanks sunk during Operation Smash – the Normandy landings rehearsal that took place off Studland almost three quarters of a century ago.  Project members are now anxious to hear from anyone who may have underwater images, taken in the 1970s and 80s, of any of the Second World War vehicles, which were known as Valentine tanks.


Fox News Auto – In military collectibles, supply often falls short of demand

1487364387761When the producers of “Fury” planned to make a technically correct film about an American World War II tank crew’s exploits, they ran into a problem. The type of tank they wanted to use was nowhere to be found, the result of heavy casualties on the battlefield.  So they had to use the wrong tank.  And that’s a problem that a lot of collectors, or rather would-be collectors, of certain World War militaria can encounter. Many of the most desirable collectibles, like early tanks, airplanes and certain armaments, no longer exist except in photographs, old newsreels and the occasional museum. – Germany’s first tank turns 100

gt_c56b845c-5image_story(MENAFN – Gulf Times) The hulking grey war machine resembles a ship’s upturned hull, with one stumpy barrel protruding above the Iron Cross insignia. It’s a far cry from the Tiger and Panther tanks that ravaged WWII battlefields, but a sombre testimony to the start of a terrifying new chapter in modern warfare.   The first German tank, the A7V, was presented to the top brass for inspection in Berlin in January 1917, only a few months after the British deployed this revolutionary weapon in France in World War I.


Daily Mail – ‘Germany’s downfall’: Rare pictures show how the birth of the British tank changed the course of history securing victory for the Allies in the First World War

3d79c38900000578-4244860-image-a-32_1487673763438These are the incredibly rare photographs showing the British ingenuity that brought the dawn of the tank age and changed the Allies fortunes in the First World War.  The images show triumphant British troops atop the world’s first tanks, as well as life from the inside manning the machine guns.   These black-and-white photos are taken from the new book ‘Armoured Warfare in the First World War 1916 – 1918’ by Anthony Tucker-Jones and published by Pen & Sword Military.  Mr Tucker-Jones said: ‘The first tanks came about through the desperate need to break the terrible deadlock in the trenches.




AFV News from around the Net

Here is another installment of “AFV News from around the Net”, a collection of current articles about the latest in AFV development and deployment.  Click on the article headline to read the full piece.


IHS Jane’s 360 – IDEX 2017: Iraq takes delivery of Textron Commandos

1650527_-_mainThe Iraqi Federal Police is currently in the process of receiving the Textron Commando Select armoured vehicles that were ordered last year, Jonathan Dalrymple, vice president for business development at Textron’s Marine and Land Systems division, told Jane’s at the IDEX show in Abu Dhabi.  “We are delivering tranches of vehicles; the first got there about two months ago and went straight to the front,” he said.  The Iraqi Federal Police has become an increasingly heavily armed force that is playing a major role in the operation to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State militant group. It has been using the earlier Commando Armoured Security Vehicle (ASV) variant since 2004, when it received the first of more than 300 vehicles.


IHS Jane’s 360 – IDEX 2017: Hyundai Rotem details new CEV

1703260_-_mainHyundai Rotem has released details of the new combat engineer vehicle (CEV) under development to meet the operational requirements of the Republic of Korea Army.  The company has already developed and manufactured armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) and armoured vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) to support the K1 and K2 main battle tanks in service with the ROK Army.  The new CEV is designed for use in a wide range of battlefield missions, including clearing battlefield obstacles, preparing fire positions for MBTs and artillery, and carrying out breaching operations.


UPI – Russia ready to export new T-90 tank variant

russia-ready-to-export-new-t-90-tank-variantFeb. 20 (UPI) — Russia’s Uralvagonzavod scientific-production corporation is ready to export the latest variant of the T-90 main battle tank, Russian news agency Tass reports.  General of the Army Alexei Maslov, the special representative of UVZ for military-technical cooperation, was quoted by the news agency as saying the decision comes as production of the T-90MS is ready to accelerate. “We have established the low-rate initial production of these vehicles,” he said at the IDEX 2017 trade show in Abu Dhabi. “It has been almost mastered, and we are ready to conduct export deliveries.


Defense News – Turkish Otokar wins deal with UAE to build amphibious armored vehicles

defense-news-otokarABU DHABI — Turkish company Otokar won a deal worth $661 million to build Arma 8×8 amphibious armored infantry vehicles for the United Arab Emirates land forces. Otokar signed an agreement establishing a joint venture to build the vehicles with UAE company Tawazun Holding at the Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition underway. The vehicle — under the joint venture — has been dubbed “Rabdan” and will be built at the Tawazun Industrial Park manufacturing facilities in Abu Dhabi. The vehicle will carry 11 passengers, designed to keep them safe from mines and missile threats, and will be able to easily traverse over rivers and ponds.


Defense News – NIMR flexes manufacturing might in UAE; unveils newer, nimbler combat vehicles

defense-news-nimrABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Leadership at the Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition announced — among a variety of deals made by the United Arab Emirates on the first day of the show — that NIMR Automotive would manufacture several hundred 8×8 armored vehicles for the country’s armed forces.  The work will be performed at the company’s new manufacturing facility in Ajban, Abu Dhabi — the region’s leading facility for wheeled military vehicles.  The agreement was a part of 4.4 billion AED — roughly $1.2 billion — in total deals announced for a productive first day at IDEX on Sunday.


IHS Jane’s 360 – Czech Republic seeks new tracked IFVs

1692868_-_mainThe Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to proceed with a tender worth over CZK50 billion (USD1.9 billion) to fulfil an urgent requirement for over 200 new tracked armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) for the Army of the Czech Republic (ACR).  General Josef Becvar, chief of staff of the ACR, stated on 14 February that the ACR plans to hold industry days in mid-2017 and invite domestic and foreign manufacturers of tracked armoured vehicles to demonstrate their platforms in mobility and live fire modes before an ACR selection team of experts. – Army Tanks, Strykers & Bradleys to Get Vehicle-Mounted Active Protection Systems to Detect, Track and Destroy Enemy Fire

abrams_tanks_on_the_way-drills-summer-heat-workout-exerciseThe 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.

TFB: P-47s, Tiger Tanks, and Bouncing Bullets

Over at The FirearmBlog (TFB), contributor Nathaniel F has written a post examining the peculiar myth of P-47 fighter bombers “bouncing” .50 cal bullets into the bottom hulls of Tiger tanks during the fighting in the ETO in 1944-45.  The piece is in response to this clip from a TV show documentary.


 TFB – P-47s, Tiger Tanks, and Bouncing Bullets: The Limitations of Eyewitness Accounts

As a researcher and history enthusiast, one of the issues I often have to wrestle with is that of eyewitness accounts, specifically when to trust them and when not to. That subject itself is one for another time, but today I want to look at a specific example of an eyewitness account as an illustration of how they can be misleading to someone trying to reconstruct historical events.

The account in question is this one, apparently from an unknown television documentary, in which a former P47 pilot describes attacking German tanks by bouncing bullets off the ground and into the underside of the tank’s hull.

Read the full post here.

Tankograd Blog on the T-54

Last month the blog Tankograd posted one of their characteristically epic pieces on the T-54 tank.  This post is full of details and images describing the vehicle in great detail.  Tankograd blog is a must-read for fans of Soviet armor.  Click on the headline below to go to the Tankograd post.

Tankograd: T-54 Red Dawn

325The T-54 was reasonably advanced for its era, arguably more so than the American Patton family up til the M60, but it could never quite be described as being on the cutting edge. It is rationally constructed and technically excellent where the traditional three criteria of mobility, firepower and protection are concerned, but it was also plagued by drawbacks that may not be immediately obvious at first glance. Some of the drawbacks have received quite a lot of attention, like the issue of internal space. Others, like the cooling system that threw dust 20 feet into the air, are less well known. The usual criticism that Soviet tanks had subpar fire control systems is partially true with the T-54, as it lacked a rangefinding device. But what is less well known is that the sight was very well made, very convenient to use and had higher magnification than the ones used in contemporary Western tanks. A thorough inspection of the tank will tell you that the T-54 was very competitive for its time, and remained capable of fulfilling front line roles well after newer and better designs took its place in the limelight.

More often than not, the Soviet military industry had been plagued by lackluster technological capabilities in some fields. This was especially true immediately after the end of the war. Some factories were short of qualified personnel, worsening the quality of the tanks they built. Nizhny Tagil, for instance, was almost totally devoid of experienced and qualified staff after the war ended, as most of the Kharkov Design Bureau workers and engineers had decided to return to their headquarters in Kharkov in Soviet Ukraine once the war was over.

Much, much more here.


Below the Turret Ring

It’s time to check up on the blog “Below the Turret Ring” to see what they have been up to.  Since last time we checked, they have posted two lengthy pieces, one on the armor configuration of the early model M1 Abrams, and a follow-up to their post from last year on Leopard II tanks in Syria.  Click on the headlines in the excerpts below to go to the full version.


Below the Turret Ring: Early M1 Abrams composite armor

f5nvtzu3On the TankNet forums, a user with the nickname “whelm” has posted drawings from a formerly classified document on the earliest iteration of the US M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT). He got this document from Vollketten, a user with accounts at the Sturgeon’s House forum, the WoT forum and other places. It details the armor layout of the tank, showing were the Burlington composite armor is located and how it is specifically implemented on different areas.

Burlington special armor, also known as Chobham armor, is a type of composite armor developed in the United Kingdom by the FVRDE from the late 1960s onwards. It consists of a number of sandwich plates – also called biscuits – which are mounted in a spaced configuration. It is understood that these sandwich plates work as a type of non-explosive reactive armor (NERA), by using an elastic interlayer located between two metal plates (usually steel or alumininum). On impact the rubber will compress to the point of maximum compression, until expanding again and bouncing back. This will move more material into the path of penetration and also shatter thin and fragile projectiles, such as the shaped charge jets created by high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads commonly used on anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Essentially NERA works like explosive reactive armor, but with a lot less plate movment, as it only reuses the energy from the impacting projectile, instead of using an external energy source (such as the detonation of an explosive layer) to move the metal plates.


Below the Turret Ring: Leopard 2 in Syria – part 2

c2ozgbnwgaaf_6hYesterday a new video was released by ISIS terrorists showing a bunch of destroyed main battle tanks (MBTs) and armored personnel carriers (APCs) near the Syrian city of Al-Bab. This video however has proven something, that I understimated a certain weapon. Not anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), not improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A much older weapon: propaganda. The same weapon that turned the Tiger heavy tank – a rather mediocre design of it’s time – to a supposed super tank, that still is being worshipped by some individuals today. However the propaganda worked, invoking a Tiger-phobia on the side of the allies.

Now, what exaclty has happened? A new video showing the exact same area that the first few videos were showing. The destroyed or damaged tanks are probably all identical to the tanks already shown in earlier videos, that have been covered by numerous news articles and blogs. Still some people start writing articles in a sort of kneejerk reaction, claiming that these are newly defeated tanks and that the Turkish Army is just poorly trained or the Leopard 2 is a poorly designed tank, incapable of competing on the same level as the tanks of other countries (even though this is not tank-vs-tank warfare…). This again leads to people to come and reply or spread the articles, which are pushing for their own agenda. “The T-90 is so much better, only one was penetrated!”, “All people who think the Leopard 2 is a good are Nazi-tank fanboys” and “The Abrams/Challenger 2/T-84 is an inpenetratable super tank”. People love to ignore the fact that the Turkish Leopard 2A4 is fitted with out-dated armor, possibly still the first generation of armor technology introduced with the original Leopard 2 in 1979. The fact that the Turkish Army was purged after the failed coup attempt – in which most tank units were equipped with Leopard 2A4 tanks – is intentionally ignored.

eBook Alert: T-34 and SU-152

World of Tanks has announced that the Russian language books on the T-34 and SU-152 put out by Tactical Press books a couple years ago are now available in English language ebook versions.  Hardcover versions of these books are planned, although not available yet.  For those wishing to purchase the ebook version, click here.

Publisher’s description:

2-booksThe World of Tanks series books are now available for the first time in English! They include never-before-seen photos, diagrams, and documents from Soviet archives—which is why we distinguish each volume as “The Russian View.”

In “The SU-152 and Related Vehicles,” you will learn about the design and evolution of the legendary self-propelled gun on the KV chassis, including many little-known prototypes and proposed alternate models. “The T-34 Goes to War” chronicles the real story of the celebrated medium tank, from its troubled conception to its first, desperate combat actions in the cauldron of Barbarossa. Both books are richly illustrated with photos, blueprints, and cutaway diagrams.

Comments on the series from Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran:

Those of you around for a while will recall the release of the Tactical Press books in Russian a couple of years ago. Sadly, my enjoyment and the utility of my autographed copies has been limited somewhat by the minor detail that I don’t read any Russian, hence the idea that these books be translated into English, and I wholeheartedly approve.

The entire series covers vehicles that have already been addressed in English. However, these are based on the research of Russian authors who were able to take advantage of the more open Russian archives. Until now, we have been limited pretty much to the work of folks like Zaloga or Warford — well-regarded authors, but ultimately Americans at a distance from the source. I’ll guarantee that the information published hasn’t been available in English before now.

Version 4.1 of USA Historical AFV Register is avaiable for download

afv-registerThe latest version of the USA Historical AFV Register is now available for download.  For those not familiar with this document, it is a list of every tank and AFV on public display in the US organized by state.  This latest version is authored by Neil Baumgardner and Michel van Loon.  It can be downloaded in PDF format either here or here.  This document is a must have for when you plan your next vacation!

The Tanks at Passchendaele

Lincolnshire Live has posted an article about the early British tanks used at the 1917 battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres).  These early British tanks were built by William Foster and CO Ltd which was located in Lincoln, a fact that explains why Lincolnshire Live has posted a number of article related to WWI tanks over the past year.  Click on the headline below to read the full article.

When men drowned and our tanks sank in 10ft deep water-filled shell holes

15848463-largeThis summer sees the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Passchendaele, in northern Belgium, where a total of 590,000 troops died in the space of three months.

The bloody conflict raged from July 31, 1917 to November 6, 1917 and resulted in the deaths of 325,000 Allies and 265,000 Germans.

Passchendaele, known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was one fight in an horrific series of battles during the First World War.

The fighting took place in West Flanders for control of strategic ridges to the south and east of the city of Ypres.

Alongside gas, shells, machine gun fire or improvised clubs made from spade handles wrapped in barbed wire, soldiers also had to contend with mud, mud and more mud.

Unlike the chalky terrain of the Somme, Passchendaele became infamous for its boggy conditions and waterlogged trenches thanks to constant rain turning the battlefield into a quagmire.

And it all proved too much for the tanks, a new invention by William Foster & Co of Lincoln that had first entered battle with a stutter rather than a splash at Flers-Courcelette on September 15, 1916.

The seeds of using tanks to support advancing infantry had been sown, but this tactic proved such a disaster at Passchendaele that the British almost abandoned tank warfare altogether.

Read the rest of the article here.




Yad La-Shiryon tanks to be restored

Arutz Sheva 7 is reporting that at least 50 of the vehicles on display at the Yad Lashriyon museum will receive an external restoration.  The vehicles include all four types of Merkava, Sherman tanks, Centurion tanks, M48 Pattons, The Magach and Shot Kal and the Churchill infantry tank.

img754750Israel’s Defense Ministry Property Director, together with the IDF’s ground forces and the Yad Lashiryon Organization, has announced a project to restore a variety of historical displays, including historical tanks which fought in all of Israel’s wars.

158 tanks and other armored vehicles of different makes and periods are displayed near the Latrun Police Department’s Taggart Fort. Taggart Forts were built under the British Mandate in 1940.

The project will include at least fifty tanks and armored vehicles, and will give each one a cleaning, a rust treatment, and a coat of new paint in the tank’s original color.

Some of the tanks which will be restored are: Merkava tanks of all four types, Sherman tanks, Centurion tanks, M48 Patton tanks, the Magach and Shoot Kal tanks, and the Churchill Infantry Tank.

Armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles, including armored cars, jeeps, self-propelled howitzers, and other historical weapons will also be included in Yad Lashiryon’s attempt to tell the story of generations of Israeli weapons and wars.

The plan’s first stage is scheduled to be completed by early summer 2017.