Books on Tanks

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Books - Tanks

First World War

Medium Mark A Whippet, David Fletcher. Looks at the series of medium tanks developed during the First World War, from the Mark A Whippet which actually saw combat to the Mark D, an amphibious tank that never progressed beyond the prototype stage. Includes an excellent selection of contemporary photographs including some rare shots of the early prototypes and later variants [read full review]
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Tanks on the Somme, from Morval to Beaumont Hamel, Trevor Pidgeon. A very detailed tank-by-tank account of the 'penny packet' operations that followed the initial larger scale introduction of the tank into warfare during the battle of the Somme. Supported by detailed maps and battlefield guides, this is one of the most detailed accounts of armoured warfare you will ever read! [read full review]
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The Ironclads of Cambrai, Bryan Cooper. A classic account of the first large scale tank battle, a brief triumph that despite ending as a draw helped pave the way for the eventual Allied victories of 1918, and that saw the tank emerge as an important weapon of war after a rather low-key introduction into service [read full review]
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Second World War

BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the fast BT series tanks, based on the American Christie tank. Produced in vast numbers in the Soviet Union in several main variants, the BT tanks were used in Spain, against Japan on the Mongolian border and during the Winter War, before being destroyed in equally vast numbers during the first year of the Great Patriotic War. Traces the development of the Soviet version of the tank, the many versions produced, and its mainly unimpressive combat career. [read full review]
German Half-Tracks and Wheeled Vehicles 1939-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Looks at the armoured cars and half-tracks used by the German Army before and during the Second World War, focusing on the development and technical descriptions of each type and its major variants. Each type gets one or two pages, supported by photos of the vehicle. A useful short reference book on these essential vehicles, covering both the many types developed in Germany and the smaller number of captured vehicles pressed into service. [read full review]
American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green. An excellent look at the development of American armoured vehicles in the inter-war period and during the Second World War, linking the individual vehicles to US army doctrine to produce a valuable picture of what was produced and just as importantly why, and how well the equipment that entered service actually performed. [read full review]
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Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann. A history of the first armoured unit to be formed in Germany after the First World War, tracing its history from its formation in 1933, through the campaigns in Poland and France and into North Africa, ending with the Axis powers on the back foot, having been forced to abandon the siege of Tobruk. [read full review]
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Panzer Destroyer - Memoirs of a Red Army Tank Commander, Vasiliy Krysov. The memoirs of a Soviet tank and self-propelled gun commander who fought at Stalingrad, Kursk and during the long Soviet offensives that followed, ending the war in East Prussia, and who was lucky to survive for so long, losing his crew and his commanding officer, and being wounded four times. Provides a memorable picture of life in the Red Army during some of the titanic battles on the Eastern Front. [read full review]
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Steel Fist: Tank Warfare 1939-45, Nigel Cawthorne An excellent little book and a very easy read, tracing the development of tank warfare from pre war to the end of the war in Europe. The book really focuses on the German tank development and the Panzer theories and leading Generals especially Rommel and Guderian [see more].
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Germany

Jagdtiger: Design, Production, Operations, Christopher Meadows. A detailed study of the heaviest and best armed armoured vehicle of the Second World War, the 12.8cm armed Jagdtiger, tracing its development from the original specification to the eventual vehicle, the production difficulties, and its complete combat career, which didn’t begin until January 1945 and only involved two units. [read full review]
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Tiger, Thomas Anderson. A very useful book on the Tiger tank, using contemporary battle reports and other German documents to examine its service record, looking at issues including its reliability, performance in combat, the structure of the units that used the tank and the tactics used with it. The result is a very valuable study of the effectiveness of the Tiger, based on original combat reports and thus reflecting both its virtues and its flaws. [read full review]
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Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A super collection of photos of the Panzer IV and related vehicles, tracing its evolution from the infantry support tank of 1939, to the king of the mid-war battlefield and on its use as the basis of a large number of related vehicles towards the end of the war. Lot of good pictures from different angles make this a useful book for the modeller. [read full review]
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Images of War: Hitler's Tank Killer: Sturmgeschütz at War 1940-45, Hans Seidler. A large collection of high quality pictures of the StuG, from its combat debut in France in 1940 to the final days of the war in 1945, and supported by a brief history of the development of the StuG and its use on the battlefield. [read full review]
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Panzer Divisions 1944-45, Pier Paolo Battistelli. This lavishly illustrated Osprey covers the later days of the German panzer divisions, including background on weapons, tactics, operations and silhouette style organisational charts. A fascinating period, with the once feared panzer divisions no longer kings of the battlefield but still a powerful force and capable of small scale victories against the vast tide of Soviet, British and American forces [read full review]
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Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary L. Doyle. A superb detailed reference guide that covers every type of tank, armoured car, self-propelled guns and semi-tracked vehicle that was used by the German Army between 1933 and the end of the Second World War War. An essential reference book for anyone interested in the subject. [see more]
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German Light Panzers, 1932-1942, Bryan Perrett. This is a well balanced book that combines a technical discussion of the various types of light tanks, a look at the Panzer divisions and their equipment and the battlefield tactics and experience of the German light tank forces. [see more]
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Panzerkampfwagen III Medium Tank 1936-44, Bryan Perrett. A good introduction for anyone interesting in the Panzer III, this book covers the development of the tank, the structure of the German panzer forces, and its military career, which saw the Panzer III go from being the Third Reich's main battle tank to being under-gunned and under-armoured [see more]
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Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart, Osprey New Vanguard 67. This look at what was probably the best German tank of the Second World War concentrates on the technical development of the Panther. The text is divided into chapters on each of the major versions of the Panther, looking at their development, production, deployment and combat career. As a result the text flows well, and each new development is placed properly in its context. [see more]
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Schnellbacher, U Jerchel, M and Badrocke, M. Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank 1979 - 1998, Osprey Publishing, 1998, London, New Vanguard Series No. 24.
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Jerchel, M and Sarson, P. Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank 1965 - 1995, Osprey Publishing, 1995, London, New Vanguard Series No. 16.
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Japan

Japanese Tanks, 1939-45, Steven J. Zaloga, Osprey New Vanguard 137. A well written and illustrated look at the tanks produced for the Japanese army from the late 1920s to the end of the Second World War. This is a good overview of this neglected subject, looking at both the development of their tanks and their use in combat. [see more]
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Russia

T-64 Battle Tank - The Cold War's Most Secret Tank, Steven J. Zaloga. A brief history of a tank that was too advanced for its own good, combining advanced features that meant it couldn't be exported with an unreliable engine that made it unsuited for service with the Red Army for many years after it first appeared. The limited service life of the T-64 allows the author to focus on the complex and troubled development process, giving us an interesting picture of the way tank development worked in the Soviet Union [read full review]
Russian Tanks of World War II, Stalin's Armoured Might, Tim Bean and Will Fowler. A good overview of the development of Soviet Tanks from the early models based on British and American originals to the excellent Russian designed T-34 and the heavy IS tanks. Bean and Fowler also look at the development of Soviet tank doctrine, the impact of Stalin's purges on the tank forces, and their use in combat from the small-scale clashes in the Far East to the apocalyptic fighting on the Eastern Front between 1941-45. A little lacking on precise details of the sub-variants of some of the tanks, but otherwise very good.
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United Kingdom

M48 Patton vs Centurion - Indo-Pakistani War 1965, David R. Higgins. Looks at the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, a rare example of a post-war conflict in which British and American tanks served on opposite sides. Includes a useful account of the development of the two tanks, the versions in service during the war and an account of the fighting itself. Not so strong on the direct comparison between the effectiveness of the two types when operating against each other [read full review]
Valentine Infantry Tank 1938-45, Bruce Oliver Newsome. Looks at the most numerous British tank of the Second World War, but one that only saw limited combat service, mainly in North Africa. Notable for the amount of information packed into a series of tables, including specifications and identifying features of the many versions of the Valentine, as well as the interesting material on the interior of the tank, how it was driven, and on the many special variants such as the Archer self -propelled gun, which carried its main gun pointing backwards. [read full review]
Images of War: British Tanks of the Second World War, Pat Ware. A good quality selection of photos, organised by the British designations (Light, Cruiser, Infantry and Heavy), along with chapters on the development of the tank, American tanks in British service and the 'funnies' that were the most important British contribution to wartime tank design. [read full review]
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Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher. Combines a history of the British armoured forces, and in particular the Royal Tank Corps and Royal Armoured Corps, with a guide to the resources available for family histories trying to trace ancestors who served in British tanks [read full review]
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 British Anti-Tank Artillery 1939-1945 (Osprey New Vanguard), Chris Henry.  An interesting look at the evolution of the British anti-tank gun, from the tiny early 2-pdrs up to the massive 32-pdr guns and the self-propelled tank destroyers that appeared late in the war.
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United States

Images of War Special: M4 Sherman, Pat Ware & Brian Delf. Larger than normal entry in the Images of War series looking at the M4 Sherman tank, with a good range of photos, including some unusual pictures of tanks under construction, the interior of the Sherman and individual components, all supported by good captions and useful chapter introductions. [read full review]
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Operation Iraqi Freedom: US Army Abrams, Bradley & Stryker, Andy Renshaw & Ryan Harden. Combines a look at the history and development of each type of vehicle with a detailed illustrated walk-round of real machines and an interesting modelling guide, in each case taking a base kit and at least one or two upgrade or modification kits, and giving useful advice on how to combine the various components to produce an impressive final model. [read full review]
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Zaloga, Steven and Sarson, Peter. M2 / M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1983 - 1995, Osprey (UK) Ltd, 1995, London, New Vanguard Series No. 18.
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Zaloga, Stephen & Sarson, Peter. M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 1982 - 1992, Osprey UK, London, 1993, New Vanguard Series No. 2.
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Modern American Armour , Zaloga, Stephen & Loop, James, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1982.
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