This is frankly an outstanding reference work if you are interested in post war soviet military vehicles and artillery systems, sadly this is reflected in its price and availability. Written by two of the worlds leading experts and drawing on a wide range of sources that became available at the end of the Cold War as the Russians sought to export their technology and needed to more widely publish its capabilities to the world.
The book covers;
- Evolution of Soviet/Russian Tanks
- Anti Armour Developments
- Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles
- Armoured Airborne Vehicles
- Self Propelled Artillery
- Towed Artillery
The principal component of the book is the evolution of Soviet/Russian Tanks which covers its subject in significant detail looking at both the major production models and the main prototypes it includes their evolution through the various marks and provides good coverage of the enhancements introduced. Through it all runs the broad thread of the design strategy and vision. The focus is very much on post war tanks and includes:
- post war production of the T-34/85
- early post war medium tank production T-54/55/62
- Soviet Post War Heavy Tank Design
- Soviet Post War Light Tanks
- Second Generation Tank Development T-64/72/80
The sections on Anti Armour developments, Armoured Infantry Vehicles and Airborne vehicles traces a similar story through these sets of vehicles. Whilst the level of detail presented is extremly useful the breadth of Armoured vehicle types covered inevitably mean this is less than that provided within the tank story.
The section on artillery is both comprehensive and provides good coverage and technical detail on all the systems covered again tracing the evolution of the design concepts through the systems that were developed, the focus is delivered against system type looking at SPGs, Gun Mortars, MRLs, free flight rockets and ballistic missiles. Of note its not just about the delivery system. The Soviets designed for end to end engagement concepts in artillery; target acquisition, delivery and supply so the book includes a range of specilist logistic and support vehicles as well as command and observation post vehicles. The one noteable ommision under the artillery title to my mind is Air Defence systems although this may be more a reflection of the organisation of the the Soviet Armed forces, sadly this misses the oppourtunity to explore an area where the Soviets may well have outperformed the west.
At the end the authors provide an overview of the design philosophy which really highlights the technology push component of the Soviet approach and enables one to contrast this with the more requirements lead approaches of the western world. In Summary a superb book, that can be read cover to cover or dipped into as required, it contains a wealth of data that I have not come across elsewhere particularly in relation to the performance of armour. The sting in the tale is the price, at £130 on Amazon its not a cheap. If you can afford it, its worth buying if you see it for less than £50 don't even think about it, just buy it, great book.
Soviet/Russian Armour and Artillery Design practice, 1945 to present @ Amazon
Other Book Reviews:
Review-Book, Modern African Wars (3) South West Africa
Review-Book, Red God of War, Soviet Artillery and Rocket Forces
Review-Book, Iron Division, The History of the 3rd Division 1809-1989
Jane's Armour and Artillery 2002/2003