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.

New Book Alert: M-60 Main Battle Tank In Action

A new entry in the “In Action” series by David Doyle has been released by Squadron Signal, M-60 Main Battle Tank In Action.  This is an 80 page softcover volume containing both black and white and color photos.  For a preview of the book, check out the video preview posted below.

Publisher’s Description:

The M60 Main Battle Tank was conceived as the successor to the M48 Patton with the hope that it would prove a better adversary to the Soviet T-54A. Introduced in 1959, the 105mm-armed M60, and its variants, the M60A1 and M60A3, remained in production into 1987, forming the backbone of the U.S. armored force until it was supplanted by the M1 Abrams. In addition to the conventional cannon-armed versions of the M60, the M60A2 variant, sometimes dubbed “the starship,” featured new departures in tank armament. The M60A2 was armed with a 152mm projector, which could fire a conventional round with a fully combustible casing, or the MGM-51 Shillelagh anti-tank missile. Completing the M60 family were the M728 armored engineer vehicle, and the still-in-service M60 Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge. Packed with 155 vintage color photos, 69 historic black-and-white images, by numerous fine line drawings, and a detailed data table, this 80-page volume traces the history of America’s iconic Cold War tank

Book Alert: Sturmgeschütz: Panzer, Panzerjäger, Waffen-SS and Luftwaffe Units 1943–45

Osprey has released a new hardcover book by German armor researcher Thomas Anderson titled Sturmgeschütz: Panzer, Panzerjäger, Waffen-SS and Luftwaffe Units 1943-45.  Anderson has written several books for Osprey over the last few years on German tanks and armored units.  This book is a 272 page hardcover with over 200 images.

Publisher’s Description:

During the inter-war years a new kind of support weapon was recommended to the German general staff by Erich von Manstein: an armored assault gun designed to destroy prepared defensive positions and enemy tanks, laying the groundwork for an assault by the Panzers and Panzergrenadiers.

First rolled out in 1940, the Sturmgeschütz assault gun was an instant success, and played a vital role in the Wehrmacht throughout the war. Cheaper and quicker to produce than the German Panzers, it was deployed widely and with great success, particularly in the later years of the war, forming an integral part of armored units as well as its more traditional infantry support role.

This book traces the story of the Sturmgeschütz from its original design in the 1930s to its use in the last desperate days of the German war effort. Drawing on original material from German archives and private collections, and replete with over 200 images, Sturmgeschütz tells the thrilling story of the Wehrmacht’s unsung workhorse.

 

Book Alert: The Tanks of TOG

A new book on the history of the tanks designed by “The Old Gang” during WWII is available on createspace.com.  Written by Andrew Hill, this is a 462 page trade paperback volume.  Copies may be purchased here.

Publisher’s Description:

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEThe previously untold story of the Special Vehicle Development Committee, better known as ‘The Old Gang’ or by the abbreviation ‘TOG’. These were the men who were mainly responsible for the creation of the British tanks in WW1. Men like Sir Albert Stern, Sir William Tritton, Sir Harry Ricardo, and Major Walter Wilson. At the outbreak of WW2, they were given a new task, that of breaching the heaviest German defences, with a heavily armoured tank able to cross the worst mud soaked ground of Flanders.
The SVDC managed in very short time to design more than one vehicle to accomplish this seemingly impossible task and built tanks bearing their acronym as TOG-1 and TOG-2. This book covers the development of both vehicles as well as several variations and other work such as an underwater tank and connections to the gigantic Cultivator machines of the Naval Land Equipment division.
The work of the SVDC was conducted in secrecy with documents, photographs, and blueprints sent to various companies and people. Places where sadly since the war so much has been lost. This book was the culmination of several years of research by the author. A search which brought together archival information from as far afield as Canada, the USA, Australia, and the UK to tell the story of these incredible men and their incredible machines.

Book Alert: Panther

Osprey has released a new book by German author Thomas Anderson on the Panther tank, simply titled Panther.  This is a 224 page hardcover with photographs and illustrations.  Anderson has written several books on German WWII armor, including volumes on the Tiger, the Ferdinand and the Sturmgeschutz.  Oddly enough, this is the second hardcover that Osprey has released in the past few years on the Panther, in 2012 they published Panther: Germany’s quest for combat dominance by Michael Green.

Publisher’s Description:

The German Panther is one of the most famous, and greatest, tanks of World War II. Often considered the most elegant tank design of the war, it embodied a balance of firepower, armour protection, and mobility unmatched by any other tank of the period. This new study by German armour expert Thomas Anderson draws upon original German archival material to tell the story of the birth of the Panther in response to the Soviet tanks encountered in 1941. He then analyzes its success on the battlefield and the many modifications and variants that also came into play. Illustrated throughout with rare photographs and drawings, many of which have never been published in English before, this is a unique history of one of the most famous tanks of World War II.

Book Alert: Pershing vs Tiger: Germany 1945

Osprey Publishing has released a new entry in their Duel series,Pershing vs Tiger: Germany 1945 (Duel) by Steven Zaloga.  This book follows the pattern set out in other Osprey Duel books, and is a softcover of 80 pages.  Next week we will be posting a more detailed review of this new book.

Publisher’s Description:

During the final battles on World War II’s Western Front, the legendary German Tiger I heavy tank clashed with the brand-new M26 Pershing fielded by the United States. The Tiger I had earned a formidable reputation by the end of 1944, although its non-sloped armour and poor mobility meant it was being superseded by the Tiger II or ‘King Tiger’. While the Tiger I had been in the front lines since 1942, the US Pershing first entered combat in late February 1945, and more than 20 Pershings would see action before war’s end.

This book examines the dramatic Tiger/Pershing duel at Elsdorf in Germany, and also assesses the clashes between German armour and the sole ‘Super Pershing’ deployed to Europe. Featuring full-colour artwork, carefully chosen photographs and specially commissioned maps, this is the story of the first US heavy tanks in combat with the fearsome Tiger I during the last months of World War II in Europe.

Book Alert: Patton’s Juggernaut: The Rolling 8-Ball 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division

This month saw the release of a new book by retired general and WWII veteran Albin F Irzyk titled Patton’s Juggernaut: The Rolling 8-Ball 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division.  Irzyk, who turned 100 years old earlier this year, is a well known figure to those interested in US Armor history.  He has appeared in numerous TV documentaries and has authored several books about his experiences as a young officer in the 4th Armored Division during WWII.

Publisher’s Description:

This is the biography, not of an individual but of a small military unit. The life span of this unit was extremely brief – less than three years. It began on September 10th, 1943 and ended on May 15th, 1946, when it ceased to exist. It is about the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division.

Combat was the destiny of this Battalion. It was created as a Combat Battalion. It was organized primarily, fundamentally, and solely to fight the German Army in Europe. And fight it did, splendidly, spectacularly and courageously.

I feel very possessive about this Battalion. I was a major factor in training it for combat. I was in it every day the Battalion was in combat, much of it after assuming command at the age of twenty seven. I believe that there was a special bonding between my men and me.

It was a great honor and privilege to command these tankers and to witness what they accomplished. In my opinion, our nation has never fully understood or appreciated the fantastic role played by such boys and very young men.

They proved themselves on the toughest testing ground of man – the field of combat. Nothing in my long, full life could compare with the priceless opportunity that I had to command the men of the 8th Tank Battalion. This is their story.

Book Alert: British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II

Osprey Publishing has released a new hardcover book by David Fletcher titled British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II.  This book is a follow-up to last years book British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939.  For those familiar with the WWI book, this new book follows the same format, although with a slightly higher page count (280) than the previous book.  This is a well illustrated book, with photos, drawing or charts on every page accompanying the text.  These books are both published in association with the Tank Museum at Bovington.  Author David Fletcher served for many years as the Museum historian and is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable researchers on the topic of British armor.

Publisher’s Description:

Building on the earlier volume dealing with British armor of the First World War, this is the second of a multi-volume history of British tanks by renowned British armor expert David Fletcher MBE.

This volume traces the story of the British use of the tank through the early years of World War II, when Britain relied on its own tanks built in the late 1930s, and those designed and built with limited resources in the opening years of the war. Plagued by unreliable vehicles and poorly thought-out doctrine, these were years of struggle against an opponent well versed in the arts of armored warfare. It covers the development and use of the Matilda, Crusader, and Valentine tanks that pushed back the Axis in North Africa, the much-improved Churchill that fought with distinction from North Africa to Normandy, and the excellent Cromwell tank of 1944–45. It also looks at Britain’s super-heavy tank projects, the TOG1 and TOG2, and the Tortoise heavy assault tank, designed to battle through the toughest of battlefield conditions, but never put into production.

Book Alert: Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War

According to Amazon, today marks the North American release of the new book Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War by Aleksei Isaev.  This is a 224 page hardcover published by Helion and Company.  Mr. Isaev has written numerous books on the Eastern Front during WWII, primarily in Russian.

Publisher’s Description:

In June 1941 – during the first week of the Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union – the quiet cornfields and towns of Western Ukraine were awakened by the clanking of steel and thunder of explosions; this was the greatest tank battle of the Second World War. About 3,000 tanks from the Red Army Kiev Special Military District clashed with about 800 German tanks of Heeresgruppe South. Why did the numerically superior Soviets fail? Hundreds of heavy KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the five-turret giant T-35 and famous T-34 failed to stop the Germans. Based on recently available archival sources, A. Isaev describes the battle from a new point of view: that in fact it’s not the tanks, but armored units, which win or lose battles. The Germans during the Blitzkrieg era had superior T&OE for their tank forces. The German Panzer Division could defeat their opponents not by using tanks, but by using artillery, which included heavy artillery, motorized infantry and engineers. The Red Army’s armored unit – the Mechanized Corps – had a lot of teething troubles, as all of them lacked accompanying infantry and artillery. In 1941 the Soviet Armored Forces had to learn the difficult science – and mostly ‘art’ – of combined warfare. Isaev traces the role of these factors in a huge battle around the small Ukrainian town of Dubno. Popular myths about impregnable KV and T-34 tanks are laid to rest. In reality, the Germans in 1941 had the necessary tools to combat them. The author also defines the real achievements on the Soviet side: the Blitzkrieg in the Ukraine had been slowed down. For the Soviet Union, the military situation in June 1941 was much worse than it was for France and Britain during the Western Campaign in 1940. The Red Army wasn’t ready to fight as a whole and the border district’s armies lacked infantry units, as they were just arriving from the internal regions of the USSR. In this case, the Red Army tanks became the ‘Iron Shield’ of the Soviet Union; they even operated as fire brigades. In many cases, the German infantry – not tanks – became the main enemy of Soviet armored units in the Dubno battle. Poorly organized, but fierce, tank-based counterattacks slowed down the German infantry – and while the Soviet tanks lost the battle, they won the war.

Book Alert: Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank

Those interested in early WWI tank combat on the Eastern front may want to check out this new book titled Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank.  Written by Francis Pulham, this is a 144 page softcover book.  Beyond that, we really don’t know much about this one or about the publisher, Fonthill Media.  This would appear to be the first book on tank warfare written by this author.

Publisher’s Description:

The Soviet T-35A is the only five-turreted tank in history to enter production. With a long and proud service history on Soviet parade grounds, the T-35A was forced to adapt to the modern battlefield when the Second World War broke out. Outclassed and outdated, the T-35A tried to hold its own against the German invaders to no avail. Very little is known about these strange vehicles, beyond their basic shape and photographs of them on parade grounds and battlefields. For the first time, actual battlefield photographs have been cross-referenced with maps and documents to bring about the most complete look at the T-35A in the Second World War to date. It is a grim depiction of the aftermath of the giants that were the Soviet T-35A tanks.

Edit: Sonny Butterworth posted a comment with some additional information about the author of this book.  We thought it merited posting in the main article.

The author has a Facebook page on which he regularly posts photos from his private collection. This book should be one of, if not the most, authoritative works published on the T-35, at least in English. From what I understand, Frankie Pulham has worked on identifying individual tanks by chassis numbers and their specific features in order to document their combat careers and fates. So should be a good book both for rivet counters and those interested in this tank’s operational history.  He is now working on a book documenting T-34 variants, including those produced outside of the Soviet Union.  You can also listen to Frankie talk more about the T-35 and his book on this podcast.