Archive for the ‘Tanks’ Category

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The T-64 tank was the most revolutionary design of the whole Cold War, designed to provide the firepower and armour protection of a heavy tank in a medium-weight design. It pioneered a host of new technologies including laminate armour, stereoscopic tank rangefinders, opposed-piston engines, smooth-bore tank guns with discarding sabot ammunition, and gun-fired guided projectiles.

These impressive features meant that the Russians were loath to part with the secrets of the design, and the T-64 was the only Soviet tank type of the Cold War that was never exported. Written by armour expert Steven J Zaloga, this detailed technical history sheds light on the secrets behind the Cold War’s most controversial tank, revealing how its highly advanced technologies proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

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T-64 Battle Tank: The Cold War’s Most Secret Tank opens up with an explanation of the reasons behind the tank’s development, all of which make for interesting reading.  What’s really great is that it doesn’t just give you the “why”, it also gives you the “how”, detailing all the development and construction problems that plagued the T-64 pretty much from the outset.

What’s most interesting about the T-64 is what a monstrosity it is.  With all its pop-out rocket deflecting fins, and belt-fed 115 mm cannon It’s like something out of a sci-fi anime, rather than an actual war machine.  Some may say this is typical of the Russian Cold War ethos of “Make It As Big As You Can” (see the Mi-24 Hind), but the engineering involved in making it work is staggering.

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The artwork and photos are simply superb throughout.  The “centrefold” cut-away – in particular – is absolutely brilliant; a real highlight.

The history and development of the T-64 makes for interesting reading, but the artwork and photos are what really lift this book above the crowd.  Well worth picking up if you’re modelling or wargaming with the T-64.

T-64 Battle Tank: The Cold War’s Most Secret Tank by Steven J. Zaloga is available now from Osprey Publishing in paperback (£9.99) and e-book (£7.99).

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Normandy Tiger

Posted: July 9, 2015 in Gaming, Tanks, World War II

The model warrior

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I have not painted up any German armour for a long while
so on finding a Battlefront Tiger 1 E early still in my
large box of things I have never got round to painting it was game on.
Now the initial impetus came from finally watching the film, “Fury” and
no need to go into the failings of that film. Linked to a recent trip to
Bovington Tank Museum and a new burst of activity on my Normandy terrain
boards it was full steam ahead. Those of you who know your Battlefront
kits will immediately realise I had a problem because the Tiger has rubber
road wheels, no spare tracks and most importantly no zimmerit on it. All
these things are kind of vital for a Normandy Tiger. My first issue was solved
by a few rubber wheeled Tigers still serving in Normandy specifically I went for
tank number…

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105800 It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly two years now since Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium was unleashed upon wargamers the world over.  Now, it’s back, significantly cheaper, and significantly lighter…yet still bursting with all – if not more – of the content that made its original release so awesome.

There are many great things about The Wargaming Compendium that make it an essential purchase, but one of the things to strike me upon reading it cover to cover for the first time is how useful it is no matter if this is the first thing you’ve ever read on wargaming, or if you’re an old hand who’s devoted his spare bedroom over to a 32mm recreation of The Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Within are tips and guides for choosing which era you want to fight in, how to prep and paint figures, how to build and lay-out terrain…pretty much everything you could need. Complete games/rulesets are supplied, as well as a pretty comprehensive directory of conventions, websites, magazines and publishers.  All periods of history are covered, from Ancients to Ultra-Modern, with a fair amount of discussion also given over to fantasy and sci-fi games. I cannot recommend this book enough.

No matter what your experience level, or what aspect of wargaming you are interested in, there is plenty in here to make it worth your while.  And now it’s lighter, as well. Bonus.

Buy it with your hands.  Again.

Tank Battles of World War I

Posted: April 10, 2015 in Books, Tanks, World War I

A new writer joins our ranks this week, as we welcome Spike Direction, offering us the low down on Bryan Cooper’s “Tank Battles of World War I”

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According to the back cover of this book, it’s been out of print for thirty years and is highly sought after.  Well, little dust jacket, I’ll have to take your word for it on the second part, but a quick examination of the inside confirms this book was first written in 1974 and reprinted last year by Pen & Sword, presumably in time for the 100th anniversary.

This book deals with the development of the tank before and during World War I and the key battles of the Tank Brigade (brilliantly code-named The Heavy Section in the early days), as well as the struggles against the absolute indifference of certain figures in the British Army and government, who were holding out for the chance to win the war with a glorious cavalry charge, and failed to see the potential of this new machine to save soldier’s lives.

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Tank Battles of World War I is brief at eighty-four pages of text, though since the subject area in question is very specific I feel it covers all relevant information sufficiently.  Value is added by a bumload of photo pages, covering the prototype models ‘Little Willie’ and ‘Big Willie’, through to the Mark VII and Whippet tanks in action against the German A7V with it’s preposterous crew of 18, as well as appendices with schematics and vital statistics for all the British Tanks and maps of the battlefields tanks fought over.

As a history enthusiast with a basic working knowledge of the period I found this book very interesting and informative, particularly striking to me was the weird juxtaposition of the birth of modern mechanised warfare with the primitive, Flintstones-level technology being used (the cover shows this marvellously with the fellow releasing a carrier pigeon through a hole in a tank’s armour like something from Dad’s Army, also notable is the fact that the poor souls crewing the tanks often ended battles passed out on the deck with carbon monoxide poisoning!).  Also illuminating was the difference between ‘male’ and ‘female’ tanks, a description I was aware of but have only now learned the significance of.

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All in all this is well worth reading for anyone interested in WWI, and can be polished off in a day should you fancy filling your afternoon with tales of daring, very gradual, CO poisoned charges across no-man’s land, wearing chainmail masks.

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The Vietnam War Experience is a dramatic guide to the suffering, sacrifice and heroism of the Vietnam War. It sees the highs and lows of the world’s first television war through the eyes of those who fought in it – both the generals commanding the war and the ordinary soldiers on the ground and in the air.

Setting it apart from other current books about The Vietnam War, it is made unique through the inclusion of facsimiles of paraphernalia such as posters, official documents and Airborne Death Cards.

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The Vietnam War Experience is not only a very attractive and substantial coffee table book, it is also an excellent introduction to the war for those who are newcomers to either gaming or studying the period.  In fact, as an overview and/or introduction, it’s simply superb.  The photos are excellent, covering all different theaters and aspects of the conflict, and while some detail is obviously sacrificed for the sake of space, what is included is very sufficiently explained.

What is also a nice touch is that – especially considering its status as a “coffee table book”, it is very well paced indeed, developing more of an action-packed tone as the war builds in intensity.  A slow burning introduction covers the setting of the era, The Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the gradual buildup towards US involvement.  When Rolling Thunder or Linebacker are underway, it feels almost adrenalised.  This really helps with the immersive experience that the book endeavours to produce.

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The pull out and paraphernalia sections are excellent facsimiles of documents, cards and posters, which add to the immersion and experience of the book.  The reference cards and posters provided are especially eye-catching and interesting.

All in all, this is an excellent art book for those who are already aficionados of the war, but also provides an excellent “jumping on point” for that who are interested, but don’t rightly know where to start.

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The tank played a hugely successful part in the Allied war effort during the First World War.

It is a mystery, then, why the development of the weapon took so long and was resisted so fiercely by a number of key men and government departments. The idea of an armoured vehicle was far from new by the outbreak of war in August 1914. As early as the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci imagined wheeled vehicles equipped with canons. In 1903, H.G. Wells described his version of the tank to be armour plated, have internal power and be able to cross trenches; characteristics that were remarkably similar to the tanks that trundled onto the Somme battlefields thirteen years later.

In his book Foley analyses key questions surrounding the tank, including the all important issue of why senior army personnel were so opposed to its development and content to continue to send wave after wave of unprotected men into the mouths of German machine guns. We also learn more about Lord Kitchener and his scepticism of the tank, which led to the weapon being developed by the Royal Navy under the watchful eye of Winston Churchill.

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The Rise of the Tank is a fascinating read, being a full and intricate history on the development of the tank from its drawing board, all the war through to the end of the First World War.  Not a single point seems to be left uncovered, and it’s loaded with fun pieces of trivia alongside all of the key information.

The first few chapters of the book covering the development and design of the first landship/tank is especially engaging and interesting.  It seems bizarre now to think that the tank was rejected and overlooked so frequently, now that we know its merits.

This is an excellent book for both beginners and expert tread-heads alike.  Two thumbs up!


The Rise of the Tank: Armoured Vehicles and Their Use in the First World War is available now from Pen and Sword Books, priced £19.99 (Hardback) and £11.00 (eBook).

History Through Gaming

Panzer IV Photo Album

A Panzer IVG at the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum. Photo by Mark Pellegrini. A Panzer IVG at the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum. Photo by Mark Pellegrini.

The Panzer IV was the most common German tank during World War II and, as the only one produced throughout the entire war, this “workhorse” saw action everywhere the German army was deployed.

The medium tank was initially designed to support the Wehrmacht infantry; its added armor compensating for its slower speed while other tanks, like the Panzer III, which was faster and had a smaller-caliber gun, took on enemy tanks.

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(pc060845) British tank in World War I. Credit: © The Illustrated London News Picture Library (pc060845) British tank in World War I. Credit: © The Illustrated London News Picture Library

Machine guns, heavy artillery, barbed wire, and poison gas all existed before World War I (1914-1918). Airplanes, too, already existed, as did observation balloons, submarines, hand grenades, and flame throwers. One weapon, however, developed as a direct result of the fighting in the war: the armored combat vehicle known as the tank.

Battles in World War I tended to be fought by men charging through barbed wire into machine gun and artillery fire. This form of combat produced carnage on an unprecedented scale. Battlefronts settled into static trench systems. Repeated assaults on heavily defended trenches caused still more carnage. In early 1915, British Lord of the Admiralty (the Royal Navy) Winston Churchill was looking for a new idea, and he found one.

British Army Lieutenant-Colonel E. D. Swinton, assigned as a war correspondent, had seen…

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Vickers Medium Mk.III

Posted: September 13, 2014 in Tanks, World War II

Defence of the Realm

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The Vickers Medium Mark.III tank was a brief footnote in British tank development. Only three were built for trials purposes and it was intended that they would replace the previous Mark.II. Despite being the spiritual successor to the Medium Mark.II the two vehicles had very little in common and was one of a number of multi turreted designs that several tank manufacturers the world over had taken an interest in during the 1930s.

The Mark.III was intended to replace the older Mark.II The Mark.III was intended to replace the older Mark.II

The origins of the tank can be traced back to 1926 when the War Office wanted a replacement for the proven but increasingly obsolete Mark.II tank which had served the Army well after World War I. There was an increasing interest in multi turreted designs (particularly in Britain and the Soviet Union) and as such a new design was drawn up comprising of four turrets;

  • A single 3…

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_76278207_76278202The Imperial War Museum (IWM) London has undergone a £40m transformation and is due to reopen this week with new displays to mark the centenary of World War One.

The new atrium is made up of four levels divided into different clusters, which include more than 400 objects and artworks.

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Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28316238