Book Alert: Soviet T-34 Tank Manual (Haynes Manuals)

The Haynes Manuals series has released a new book on the WWII era Soviet T-34 Tank.  This is a hardcover book of 140 pages.  Titled Soviet T-34 Tank Manual (Haynes Manuals), this book is by Mark Healy, author of Midway 1942, The Tiger Tank Story and Zitadelle: The German Offensive against the Kursk Salient 14-17 July 1943.

Publisher’s Description:

The Soviet T-34 was one of the finest tanks of the Second World War and the mainstay of Soviet armoured units throughout the war. Most nations underestimated the scale and quality of Soviet tank production before the Second World War and the Germans were no exception. They were certainly not prepared for the T-34, which they encountered during Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of Russia) in 1941. Its combination of firepower, mobility, protection, and ruggedness led German Panzer General Paul von Kleist at the time to call it “The finest tank in the world.” Another legendary Panzer tactician and general, Heinz Guderian, also confirmed the T-34’s “vast superiority” over existing German armour of the period.

Book Alert: Early US Armor: Armored Cars 1915-40

A new entry in the Osprey New Vanguard series.  This one is titled Early US Armor: Armored Cars 1915–40 (New Vanguard) by Steven Zaloga and is the companion to his earlier New Vanguard title on Early US Armor: Tanks 1916-40.  As with other New Vanguard titles, this one is 48 pages and features plenty of photos and illustrations.

Publisher’s Description:

The first American armoured cars began to emerge around the turn of the century, seeing their first military use in 1916 during the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa. When the United States entered World War I, the American Expeditionary Forces used some armoured cars in France, and American armoured cars were used by the French Army.

The inter-war years saw considerable innovation and experimentation in armoured car design. Of the 1930s scout car designs, the M3A1 scout car was good enough to be produced in very large numbers in World War II, and was widely exported to many other armies via Lend-Lease. It also served as the basis for the late M2 and M3 armoured half-tracks.

In this study, using detailed full colour plates and rigorous analysis, US armour expert Steven J. Zaloga chronicles the development of the US armoured car in the years leading up to World War II.

Book Alert: The Anti-Tank Rifle

Osprey Publishing has released a new book by Steven Zaloga on the history of the anti-tank rifle titled The Anti-Tank Rifle (Weapon).  This is part of the Osprey “weapon” series and is a softcover of 60 pages with color illustrations and plenty of photos.

Publisher’s Description:

The emergence of the tank in World War I led to the development of the first infantry weapons to defend against tanks. Anti-tank rifles became commonplace in the inter-war years and in the early campaigns of World War II in Poland and the Battle of France, which saw renewed use in the form of the British .55in Boys anti-tank rifle – also used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific. The French campaign made it clear that the day of the anti-tank rifle was ending due to the increasing thickness of tank armour.

Nevertheless, anti-tank rifles continued to be used by the Soviets on the Eastern Front with two rifles, the 14.5mm PTRS and PTRD, and were still in widespread use in 1945. They served again with Korean and Chinese forces in the Korean War, and some have even appeared in Ukraine in 2014–15. Fully illustrated and drawing upon a range of sources, this is the absorbing story of the anti-tank rifle, the infantryman’s anti-armour weapon during the world wars.

New Book Alert: British Tank Crewman 1939-45

Osprey Publishing has released a new volume in their Warrior series looking at British tank crewment in the Second World War. British Tank Crewman 1939-45 (Warrior) is written by Neil Grant and follows the pattern set by preceeding entries in the Warrior series, bein a softcover book of 64 pages.

Publisher’s Description:

Great Britain had introduced the tank to the world during World War I, and maintained its lead in armored warfare with the “Experimental Mechanized Force” during the late 1920s, watched with interest by German advocates of Blitzkrieg. Despite these successes, the Experimental Mechanised Force was disbanded in the 1930s, making Britain relatively unprepared for World War II, both in terms of armored doctrine and equipment.

This fully illustrated new study examines the men who crewed the tanks of Britain’s armored force during World War II, which was only four battalions large in 1939. It looks at the recruitment and training of the vast numbers of men required, their equipment, appearance and combat experience in every theater of the war as the British armored division sought to catch up with the German Panzers.

Available on Amazon here.

Book Alert: M113 APC 1960–75: US, ARVN, and Australian variants in Vietnam

A new entry in the long running New Vanguard series by Osprey is available titled M113 APC 1960–75: US, ARVN, and Australian variants in Vietnam (New Vanguard).  Written by Jamie Prenatt, this book follows the well established format of other New Vanguard titles, being a soft cover of 48 pages.

Publisher’s Description:

The M113 is the most widely used and versatile armored vehicle in the world. Fielded in 1960 as a simple “battlefield taxi,” over 80,000 M113s would see service with 50 nations around the world and 55 years later, many thousands are still in use. In addition to its original role of transporting troops across the battlefield, specialized versions perform a multitude of other functions including command and control, fire support, anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense, and casualty evacuation.

This new fully illustrated study examines the service record of the M113 from its initial fielding through the end of the Vietnam War. It will also describe the many US, South Vietnamese, and Australian variants of the M113 used in the Vietnam War as well as information on tactics, unit tables of organization and equipment, and a selection of engagements in which the M113 played a decisive role.

Available on Amazon here..

Book Alert: The Tanks: The History of the Royal Tank Regiment, 1976-2017

A new book by WWII historian Charles Messenger has been released and is available for sale. The Tanks: The History of the Royal Tank Regiment, 1976-2017 examines the last 40 years of the Royal Tank Regiment. This is a hardcover book of 232 pages, published by Helion and Company.  Charles Messenger served for 19 years as a regular officer in the Roayl Tank Regiment, including service in Libya, Germany and Norther Ireland.

Publisher’s Description:

The Royal Tank Regiment celebrates its centenary this year (2017). This, the fourth volume of the Regiment’s history, begins in the midst of the Cold War, with the four RTR regiments mainly based in Germany. They experienced NATO’s rearmament in the early 1980s and the implementation of General Sir Nigel Bagnall’s revolutionary new concept for the defense of the NATO Central Region. The Troubles in Northern Ireland were also at the height and the RTR served there on numerous occasions. In addition, the Regiment saw service with the United Nations in Cyprus.

The Berlin Wall came down at the end of 1989, signaling the end of the Cold War. Yet, President Bush’s New World Order proved anything but. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait resulted in the First Gulf War, in which the Regiment played its part in many ways. However, the so called Peace Dividend meant that the RTR was reduced just two regiments. Then came the horrors of the civil war in former Yugoslavia, in which the Regiment also became involved. While it did operate in tanks in Kosovo, it was also demonstrating its versatility in many other roles in this increasingly uncertain time. Not least was the formation the Joint NBC Regiment, made up of 1 RTR and the RAF Regiment.

The RTR was at the forefront of the assault on Basrah in the 2nd Gulf War and thereafter served a number of tours in Iraq. Indeed, the Regiment was among the very last troops to withdraw from the country at the end of Operation Telic in 2009. By this time, the British Army was heavily committed to Afghanistan and the Regiment would spend the next five years deploying on Operation Herrick. As in Iraq, it carried out a variety of missions and in many different types of vehicle. The book makes plain how tough conditions, as in Iraq. The Army, however, faced further reductions and the RTR was cut to a single Challenger 2 regiment.

This History not only covers the Regiment’s numerous operational tours. It details the vehicles it has used and provides an idea of how life in the RTR has changed over the past forty years. It does not duck controversy and allows the voices of all ranks to be heard. ‘The Tanks’ reflects an ever changing British Army, the one constant being the character of the RTR soldier, the Tankie.

Available on Amazon here.

Book Review: Can Openers

We will start this book review with this video produced by book author Nicholas Moran giving a description of the work in his own words.   The background footage scrolling behind him gives a pretty good idea as to the layout of the book for those that are curious.

 

Mr. Moran was kind enought to provide us with a review copy of the book so that we may share our thoughts on it with our readers.  From this point forward, we will refer to Mr. Moran by his nickname “The Chieftain” for the simple fact that it’s a pretty cool moniker.

Can openersIn the video above, The Chieftain makes a reference to his book as a “Hunnicutt for tank destroyers.”  This is an apt description.  Those familiar with the works of Richard Hunnicutt will know that his ten volume work contains a detailed history of US armored vehicle development, each volume dedicated to a specific vehicle type, such as Medium tanks, Heavy tanks, halftracks, etc. However if you scan through the titles of his books you will find one title conspicuously absent, US tank destroyers. To be sure, tank destroyers are included in his books, but scattered over about five different volumes and generally regulated to the later pages of the volume. For example, if you want to read about the tank destroyers that saw service during WWII war, you will need to go to the Hunnicutt Sherman book for the M10 and M36, the Stuart book for the M18, the Halftrack book for the M3 GMC, and the Armored Car book for the various wheeled tank destroyer models.

Fortunately, this dilemma has been solved by the new book Can Openers: The Development of US Anti-tank Gun Motor Carriages by World of Tanks researcher and historian Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran. Known in part to the wider public for his Inside the Hatch video series, this book marks his first foray into book writing. Those that follow his articles on the World of Tanks website and in the “Chieftain’s Hatch” section of the World of Tanks online forum will recognize his writing style in this volume. The sarcastic wit of The Chieftain comes through in the text, making it a bit more easy to digest than the relatively dry writing style of Hunnicutt.

It should be pointed out that this is a developmental history of US tank destroyers and is focused on describing the various different models and prototypes and providing some background as to why each vehicle was accepted or rejected. It is not an in-depth history of the tank destroyer branch itself. For that, we would suggest Charles Baily’s Faint Praise or Steven Zaloga’s writings.  For a history of the tank destroy battalions during WWII, we recommend Harry Yeide’s book The Tank Killers.  Speaking of Harry Yeide, he provides a nice forward for this new book.

It is obvious that Mr. Moran has spent a good deal of time in the archives compiling the information and collecting the photographs for the book. This is not a rehash of previously published materials, and those familiar with the subject will be pleased to find photos they have probably never seen before. The book is also sprinkled with quotes from letters and memos from the various US Army officers involved in the development of these tank destroyers. These quotes do much to explain the thinking and rationale of the people responsible for this assortment of oddities and experiments, helping to explain how some of these vehicles that seem so obviously flawed to those of us with the benefit of hindsight came to be.

The history of US anti-tank Gun Motor Carriages (GMC’s) presents some of the stranger armored vehicles to come out of the ordnance department during the war. Certainly, there is much in the pages of this volume to make one shake their head and wonder what exactly was going through the heads of the designers. In particular, the early attempts to mate a high velocity anti-tank weapon to a light wheeled chassis produced a number of ill-conceived contraptions.  For those that enjoy contemplating such machines, The Chieftain has assembled an admirable history.

Since we reviewed this from a digital copy, we have not had a chance to examine an actual copy.  However, we have been informed that in terms of size and paper quality, this book is very similar to the World of Tanks reprint of the Hunnicutt Firepower book by Echo Point.

If you would like to pre-order this book, please do so at http://www.echopointbooks.com/history/can-openers