Book Review: The Tank Factory by William Suttie

The Tank Factory: British Military Vehicle Development and the Chobham Establishment  by William Suttie

Publishers Description:

tank factoryDespite being the inventor of the tank and responsible for campaign-winning tactics, by the start of the Second World War the United Kingdom had fallen well behind other nations in the design and build of armoured vehicles. Here, William Suttie uncovers the history of tank design from a government perspective and the decisions and failures that led to that state of affairs, and details the formation of the Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment at Chertsey. Known as the Tank Factory, the Chertsey establishment sought to ensure that the United Kingdom became world-leading in the field of military vehicle research and design, and that the British Army would never be underprotected or outgunned again. Drawing on unpublished sources and photographs, this fascinating book reveals the establishment’s history, its groundbreaking research and its inventions and designs, including first-hand insights from those who worked there.

“The Tank Factory” by William Suttie is best described as a developmental history rather than a combat history of British Armor.  Those looking for descriptions of tank battles or tales of tanker daring-do will have to look elsewhere. This book is a history of the institutions and organizations responsible for the design and production of British tanks, not their use in the field.  The focus on the developmental aspects of British armor is not surprising given the authors background as a scientist for the UK Ministry of Defense for over 30 years.  Mr. Suttie uses his knowledge and access to unpublished materials to good effect, creating a rather detailed and comprehensive study of the topic.  While his writing style is clear and understandable, the somewhat dry nature of the topic may deter some readers.  The fact that the book is prefaced with a four page glossary of acronyms is a pretty good warning that this book is not light reading!

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Book Alert: The Tank Factory

tank factoryThe History Press has announced a rather intriguing title to be released on March 2, 2015.  “The Tank Factory” by William Suttie promises to reveal the history of the post war British Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment at Chertsey.  While WW2 tank development has been covered in works by David Fletcher and Peter Beale, there have been few “behind the scenes” looks at post-war British tank development.  Hopefully, newcomer William Suttie can deliver the goods with “The Tank Factory.”

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