Book Alert: Hunnicutt “Firepower” Reprint Edition

Echo Point books has announced that they are releasing a limited edition reprint of Richard Hunnicutt’s classic book on US heavy tanks, “Firepower.”  This edition of the book differs from the other Echo Point Hunnicutt reprints in that it is done in partnership with World of Tanks.  Nicholas Moran, researcher for Wargaming NA has provided a new forward for this edition as well as providing improved images scanned from the National Archives.  This edition is available for pre-order from the Echo Point website for $52.95.  This is a hardcover edition and is listed to ship in April.

Here is an excerpt from the new edition written by World of Tanks researcher Nicholas Moran.

firepower_cvr_web“It was in the early 2000s that I had the honor of meeting Mr Hunnicutt at a gathering of tank enthusiasts at the then-Littlefield Collection. Had I known then what I know now, I would have paid much more attention to the genial old chap who seemed to have near-celebrity status amongst my companions, and less to the tanks. Over time, as my interest in the history of armoured vehicles developed, I began to understand why he was the focus of such attention. “Hunnicutt” has become synonymous with being the last word of recorded US armored vehicle development, and until now his works have commanded very high prices on the used-book market, with good reason.

It has been only after I have started to do my own research into AFV development, digging in the various archives, that I have truly understood the special nature of his books. To begin with, there is the task of collating all the data, of which there are massive amounts, and, worse, sadly not always well organized in the archives. Part of the credit for preservation of the data goes to folks who violated process and protocol, keeping collections and copies which may otherwise have been destroyed to save space, or remained classified simply because nobody bothered to de-classify old documents. I have personally recently encountered 1950s documents which appear in this volume in the classified section of the National Archives (Since de-classified). Even the mechanics of collecting the data is worthy of a raised eyebrow: I have several hundred rolls of film he used to make copies for his records in the days before good-quality photo-copiers or scanners, which must have taken notable time and expense, all done with no guarantee of repayment. Then, once collected, the data has to be sorted and the information to be published extracted, itself a time-consuming process. And, finally, the book itself has to be written.

Firepower is a book of particular interest. That the United States Army had a significant heavy tank program seems to have been a fact almost lost to history were it not for this book, and perhaps the occasional curiosity of someone in Fort Knox wondering what those big tanks sitting as monuments around post were, or maybe of people driving past the Mile of Tanks at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Firepower thus became in effect the public guardian of the knowledge, and the primary source document for the appropriate vehicles incorporated into World of Tanks.

World of Tanks itself seems to have been the impetus for a renewed public interest in the history of US tank development, with likely millions of people becoming aware of many of these experimental heavy tanks through the game. However the opportunities to learn more about them were limited due to the scarcity and cost of used copies of Firepower. Copies were hoarded like manuscripts at a monastery during the dark ages of tank ignorance, with possession of one being a matter of pride as an indicator of being a serious tank enthusiast. It seems perhaps fitting, then, that we can help repay the service that Mr Hunnicutt gave us at Wargaming with Firepower by helping make Firepower more accessible to those people who want to learn more about the real-world history of the vehicles. After all, the more people who know the real history, the better.”

 

Book Alert: Tigers In Combat: Volume III: Operation, Training, Tactics

Amazon is listing a January 19 release date for Tigers In Combat: Volume III: Operation, Training, Tactics by Wolfgang Schneider.  This book is a follow-up to his popular volumes Tigers in Combat I and Tigers in Combat II.  This is a substantial book, being a hardcover of 520 pages.  For those interested in the big German cats of WWII, this is probably a must have item.

Publisher’s Description:

Tigers in Combat Vol 3 closes the gap between the unit histories of volumes 1 and 2 and the technical descriptions in the Jentz and Spielberger books. For the first time, efforts are described in detail of what was taken to create units and what was required to keep the Tiger tank in action regarding handling and operating the vehicle. Other chapters deal with crew training and specific tactical aspects to employ such a heavy tank under all fighting conditions. Further aspects are covered, such as the protection level of the Tiger and reasons for losses – as well as propaganda work with this famous beast. Due to the usage of more than 1,200 photos and drawings, even complex crew tasks and procedures are illustrated in a way that non-Tiger crewmen will be able to comprehend.

Book Alert: A34 Comet Tank A Technical History

Earlier this month British tank researcher P.M. Knight published his new book A34 Comet Tank A Technical History on Lulu.  This book follows his previous works on British Cruiser tanks such as the Covenanter, Crusader and the Challenger.  This is a softcover book of 240 pages with black and white illustrations.

Publisher’s Description:

The A34 Comet was the ultimate iteration of the Cruiser series of fast, mobile tanks, and built on the hard lessons that had been learned with earlier designs. However, it was also brought into being at a time when British industrial capacity was nearing exhaustion, and when officialdom already had one eye on the transition to more profitable peacetime production. As such, the Comet saga was one of the husbanding of the scarce, and declining, resources available to the tank programme against the backdrop of a conflict whose end was already in sight. As this book demonstrates in depth, the result was a well-balanced design that optimised the possibilities presented by the previous Cruisers. However, it would be outshone by its ubiquitous successor, the A41 Centurion.

Book Alert: German Panzer II by David Doyle

Ampersand Publishing has released a new entry in their Visual History Series on the German WWII era Panzer II tank.  Written by David Doyle, German Panzer II: A Visual History of the German Army’s WWII Light Tank (Visual History Series) differs from previous entries in the Visual History Series in that it is a 168 page hardcover.

Publisher’s Description:

The Panzer II was Germany’s first cannon-armed tank in the post World War I era.  Designed and initially produced under the code name of 100-horsepower Farm Tractor, owing to the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles, the Panzer II remained in production, and in the field, well after it had been surpassed by better engineered, more heavily armed and armored vehicles, and indeed played a key part in the early victories achieved by the Blitzkrieg.

The third in our expanded Visual History series features nearly 200 scarce wartime photos, illuminated by detailed captions. Coverage includes the Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. A; Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. B; Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. c and A-C early; Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. c, A, B, C modified Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. D; Pz.Kpfw. II (F) Ausf. A & B; Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. F; Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. G; Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf. J and the Pz.Kpfw. II “Lynx.” All of the photos have been carefully selected to showcase the many details of the variants. Many “Panzer rarities” will be found within the 168-pages of this hardbound volume. ISBN: 978-1-944367-11-4

Page samples can be found at the Ampersand Publishing website, as can ordering information.  Ampersand is currently running an end of the year sale offering % discounts based on order size.

Book Alert: M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion 1956-70: US Tank Destroyers of the Vietnam War

Osprey Books has released a new entry in their New Vanguard Series titled M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion 1956-70: US Tank Destroyers of the Vietnam War (New Vanguard). Written by Kenneth Estes, this volume looks at two of the more unusual vehicles adopted by the US Military during the cold war, the M50 Ontos and the M56 Scorpion. This book follows the same format as others in the series, being a softcover book of 48 pages. As far as we know, this is the first book devoted exclusively to these two vehicles. Ken Estes is the author of what can be fairly described as the most authoritative book on the history of Marine Corps Armor history, Marines Under Armor: The Marine Corps and the Armored Fighting Vehicle, 1916-2000.

Publisher’s Description:

Designed in the 1950s, the US Marines’ M50 Ontos and the US Army’s M56 Scorpion were both intended to be fast, light, air-droppable tank-killers for the Cold War battlefield – an answer to the cumbersome and ineffective World War II-vintage tanks that had taken to the battlefield during the Korean War. Although they shared the aim of bringing light, mobile and lethal antitank firepower to the infantry the two vehicles varied wildly in design to cater for their unique mission demands. They first saw service in the Lebanon intervention of 1958 but it was in the Vietnam War that they made their name, with the M50 Ontos seeing intense combat action in the Battle of Hue in 1968.

Detailed illustrations and expert analysis provide the reader with a comprehensive history of these deadly antitank vehicles, from early development through to their combat history and the eventual disbandment of the Marine Corps’ last antitank battalion with M50A1s in 1971.

To view the amazon listing for this book, click here.

Book Alert: Bazooka vs Panzer: Battle of the Bulge 1944

Osprey books has released a new entry in their Duel Series, this one titled Bazooka vs Panzer: Battle of the Bulge 1944 (Duel) by Steven Zaloga. As the title implies, this book looks at the contest between German armor and US infantry equipped with the M1 Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher, aka, the Bazooka during the December 1944 German offensive. Like the other books in this series, it is a softcover volume of 80 pages with color and black and white photos and illustrations.

Publishers Description:

World War II saw tanks assume a dominant role in warfare, capable of tearing through the enemy lines if left unchecked. To combat the threat posed by these armored behemoths, the United States developed the M1 Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher, better known as the Bazooka. First employed in combat during 1942, the weapon required a great deal of skill and courage to use effectively. By late 1944 it was a mainstay of the US infantry’s anti-tank capabilities, alongside towed weapons, anti-tank grenades, and other longer-established measures.

Focusing on the savage close-quarters fighting between Germany’s armored divisions and the US infantry during the Battle of the Bulge, Steven Zaloga’s absorbing study compares and assesses the strengths and limitations of the cutting-edge technology used by both sides. Featuring specially commissioned full-color artwork and explosive battle reports, this volume casts a new light on the evolving nature of infantry-versus-tank combat in the closing months of World War II.

Bazooka vs Panzer: Battle of the Bulge 1944 is available from Amazon here.

Book News: Egyptian Shermans by Christopher Weeks

8055122-f23c188bac0ddbf18752541e7f906d47When the topic of Sherman tanks in the Middle East comes up, most people generally think about the Israeli “Super Shermans.”  However, Egypt also operated a number of Sherman tanks in the period of 1949 – 1973.  For those wanting to learn about these Egyptian Sherman tank, author Christopher Weeks has put together a short new book titled “Egyptian Shermans: A Photographic History of the M4 Sherman Tank in Egyptian Service 1949-1973.”  This 38 page book includes a variety of photos showing Egyptian Sherman tanks, including the unmodified M4A4 tanks that made up the early 1950’s Egyptian tank force to the M4/FL10 hybrid (AMX-13 style turret) used in the 1967 and 73 wars.  This book is available through the self-publishing service Blurb.  As such, it’s a bit pricey compared to books from established publishers.  That said, this is the only book on the topic and will most likely provide some fresh reading material for even the most well read of Sherman tank fans.  The book is available here.

Authors Description:

The M4 Sherman tank is one of the world’s most famous tanks, with a long and storied career with foreign armies well into the post-World War II era. One of the least-well known users was Egypt, which used the tank in combat during its 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel, including its own unique variation with a French 75mm gun turret.

“Egyptian Shermans” is the most comprehensive work in the English language covering the M4 medium tank in Egyptian Army use. Over 45 photographs are featured, the vast majority of which have never before appeared in an English-language publication, including details of vehicle insignia, and rare photographs of Sexton self-propelled guns and a bridging tank used in the 1973 war.