30 March 2011

Tanks and AFV of WW2 encyclopedia

Tanks and armoured fighting vehicles of WW2: The World's greatest military vehicles 1939-45 by Jim Winchester

This is a small pocket sized hardback book that that covers most tanks and armoured fighting vehicles of the US, Germany, UK, France and Soviet Union. There are also a few Italian and Japanese tanks thrown into the book. The idea of this book is to be a quick reference book/encyclopedia. You don't get extensive amounts of combat history or anything like that like in a Wikipedia article.

Each entry about a specific tank or tank model (as many tanks were developed over long periods of time and upgraded along the way) is made up of 2 parts.

First part is a drawing of the tank from the front, side and top perspective - listed on these pages you will also find descriptions of armor thickness, armament, special equipment such as smoke launchers and other small details that are quite interesting or that made that particular tank unique in a good or a bad way.

Second part is a brief history of manufacturing and military operations. A nice short summary of whether the tank was effective/well designed for its time or a complete dud - and explains why. I find the sections about heavy well armored but poorly armed French tanks and very light Italian tanks being outmatched by British and Soviet one's to be one of the more interesting parts of this book. As you flip through the various tank designs you get an idea why those tanks were used at all.

The book covers many but not all tanks and armored vehicles from the listed countries. They cover most of the "well known" Tigers/Shermans etc or infamous tanks such as the T35b. It includes a few less famous tanks as well - but I think the aim of the book is to show you the important tanks that drove tank design onward during the interwar and ww2 years for each nation described.

Is it worth getting? I think so, especially if you are new to WW2 or only have sketchy knowledge about tanks and armored vehicles from this period. "Veteran" miniature wargame players and people with more knowledge about WW2 history might know pretty much every tank in the book though, but it might still be fun to have around. The book being so small you can easily bring it to your games so you don't have to explain for half an hour why "that tank nr 1" on the board is better than "that tank nr 2".

I would rate it 4/5

Bought this book many years ago, but did a Google search yesterday and found it both on obscure internet book stores as well as on Amazon. Depending on where you look the price varies. But it's not that expensive.

Also check out Big Lee's review of another book on tanks, "Death by design" , which describes the shortcomings of tank warfare during WW2 from a UK tank commanders perspective http://bigleesminipaintingblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/death-by-design.html

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