An Armoured Warfare Trio from Pen & Sword – By Mark Barnes

 
 
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Every now and again we see jumbo editions from the Images of War range and all the examples to come my way, so far have been superb. Some concentrate on one vehicle and some cover more than one. Last year’s celebration of the RAF during the Cold War was genuinely outstanding.  Here is one to match it.

Messrs Robinson and Griffin take us on a smile-inducing journey through the post-war history of the Royal Armoured Corps, looking at many of the regiments serving in the corps, the people and places and, of course, the hardware. It all fits together beautifully into a genuinely excellent history.

The text is nice to read and very informative while the images and captions are fantastic. Unlike the RAF book, this one doesn’t benefit from a colour section but there is so much atmosphere and the range of kit and caboodle is vast. For lovers of the Centurion, especially, this book is a must. But there is just as much to enjoy if you are interested in other armour – Comet, Churchill, Conqueror, Chieftain and Challenger tanks are all here. The book finds room for a host of different armoured cars and other vehicles and even a few aircraft. You will see Ferrets, Foxes, Saracen and Saladin. There are Staghounds and all manner of exotica. The package is brought up to date with CVR(T) and later vehicles like the awkward looking Saxon. The book is a superb reference work for uniforms and kit covering thirty-five or more years of service in Germany, the UK, the Middle East, Canada and elsewhere.

But the Centurion is the undoubted star.  The range of images is just beautiful. I loved a book on the mighty Cent from this series written by my old guvnor Pat Ware, but there is even more to enjoy here.

This book has knowledge and enthusiasm oozing from every page. You might expect something of this scope and quality to cost a lot more than seventeen British pounds or thirty US dollars. It doesn’t. It is a ‘must have’ for collectors of British armour books, model makers and the like. You will not be disappointed.

Anthony Tucker-Jones is a well-known armoured warfare historian and he has produced a varied list of titles for this series. This time round he looks at the war in the Far East from the period of Japanese conquest in China to the end of the Second World War. It has often been suggested that the real start date for World War II was 1937 when Japan invaded China and there are plenty of images here to give the argument some credence.

What I like about this book is the breadth of it. The imagery takes in the conflict in China and in the colonies of the European powers, early fisticuffs between Japan and Russia in 1939, the legendary island hopping campaigns of the United States and the belated involvement of the Soviet Union when the final defeat of Japan seemed assured. It’s all here.

You will see all the usual suspects; Grants, Stuarts and Shermans and all the strange looking Japanese kit derived from pre-war Vickers and other designs that looked so dated by 1945.  There are Russian T-26s and a fair number of others – and much more besides.  The book does the job by giving a strong flavour of the wide-ranging scope of the war against Japan. The author takes us from atolls to dense jungle, the colonial capitals and on to the vast expanses of China and Mongolia. Hopefully, it will encourage further detailed reading.

We have also seen a lot from the immense archive of Ian Baxter in this series. He returns with a look at the big stuff in the Nazi armoury – Tiger, Panther, King Tiger, Ferdinand-Elefant and a good deal more besides.  There is room for a plethora of other vehicles and all your favourite assault guns and tank killers. The author is perhaps best associated with the war on the Eastern Front, and it dominates proceedings here. But we also see plenty from the campaign in the West and on that front, too, this book does not disappoint.  Quite where the author finds all these snaps is way beyond me. My mate Ted will love it.

The usual rules apply: The book will appeal to model makers, armour book collectors, archive photo junkies and anyone besotted with the Tiger or Panther. It represents all the positive aspects of the Images of War range and, to be honest, I don’t think there is much more to add.

“Should I add this book to my collection?” For any gear enthusiast, this question is a no-brainer. Go get!

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online.

THE ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS IN THE COLD WAR 1946-1990

1arm
By MP Robinson and Rob Griffin
Pen & Sword Military
ISBN: 978 1 47384 375 2

ARMOURED WARFARE IN THE FAR EAST 1937-1945

2arm
By Anthony Tucker-Jones
Pen & Sword Military
ISBN: 978 1 47385 167 2

HITLER’S HEAVY PANZERS 1943-1945

3arm
By Ian Baxter
Pen & Sword Military
ISBN: 978 1 47383 357 9

 
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