So Pen and Sword have sent me a new book to review focusing on Soviet tanks and other AFVs of the Cold War period, my favorite subject! At 159 pages, Anthony Tucker-Jones' effort is quite hefty and chock full of color and black and white photos of the subject matter, many of which were new to me.
The book is broken up into twelve chapters, each dealing with a different area of Soviet armour design: T54/55, T62/64, T-72/80, PT-76, BTR series, BMP series, airborne combat vehicles, BRDM series, SPGs, ATGM, attack helos and a general assessment of Soviet equipment in combat. Overall, I found these chapters fairly logical in their structure and the grouping decisions. I really would have preferred more time given to individual tanks, as putting the 62 and the 64 in a single chapter is a bit heretical in my humble view.
Each chapter provides a general overview of the vehicle family it is addressing, including a light smattering of technical details, internal vehicle layout and key features and flaws. There is a brief discussion of combat history and areas of deployment. Chapters are around 10-15 pages each and heavily padded with images, so the discussion never gets overly-complicated and largely remains at the entry level to the topic throughout.
My major critique of the book is its relative simplicity. The general approach of the book is to say a little about a lot, rather than vice versa. As such, you can be left with a feeling that a lot more could be said and that it hasn't brought much new to the table, apart from the compilation of data itself. Here, its important to note the caveat that I am likely not the target audience for it, however, as its clearly designed as an 'introductory' text to the byzantine subject of Soviet armor design. If you pick it up expecting a Zaloga, you will be disappointed. If, however, you are new to the topic (say, you are getting ready for Team Yankee) and want a nice, concise overview of the kind of new toys you will be fielding in the next few months, then this is the book for you.