British tanks of the Second World War have a rather poor reputation, and generally lagged behind their German opponents in armour and armament. Large numbers of cruiser tanks of fairly useless designs were produced and the good tanks that were designed appeared rather too late to have much impact. This entry in the Images of War series looks at all of the tanks that served with the British Army during the war, both those developed in Britain and American imports.
The first chapter covers the tanks of the First World War and the inter-war period, looking at the familiar rhomboid tanks and the less familiar interwar Medium Tanks. The next four chapters look at the four mains types of British tanks - Light, Cruiser, Infantry and Heavy, with most space devoted to the Cruiser and Infantry tanks that dominated British thinking. We finish with a look at the American tanks that made up such an important part of the equipment of British armoured divisions and the special purpose tanks, engineer vehicles and 'funnies' that were probably the most important British contribution to armoured warfare during the Second World War.
The pictures are crisp and clear, each with a short but accurate caption. There are some useful wartime diagrams, including external and internal stowage diagrams which show just how cramped these vehicles could be. Each chapter begins with a useful short text which discusses that type of tank and then examines each of the types covered in the pictures. This section makes you realise how chaotic the development of cruiser tanks was, with many different types produced, few of which were of any use. In comparison the infantry tanks seem positively efficient, with a limited number of types, most of which saw combat. The 'funnies' are particularly interesting, with pictures of bridging tanks in various positions, bobbin tanks with their reels of matting and a wide range of unusual designs.
1 - The Development of the Tank
2 - Light Tanks
3 - Cruiser Tanks
4 - Infantry Tanks
5 - Heavy Tanks
6 - American Tanks in British Service
7 - Specials, Engineer's Tanks and 'Funnies'
Author: Pat Ware
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military