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SOVIET TANK UNITS 1939-45 (The Essential Vehicle Identification Guide) Hardcover – April 10, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Porter has had a life-long interest in military history, particularly armoured warfare and AFV technology. Since leaving the British Ministry of Defence in 2006 after 29 years' service, he has worked on a number of research projects. In recent years David has contributed articles and book reviews to the BBC History Magazine, the British Army Review and the Royal Engineers Journal. Since 1997, he has tutored military history leisure courses at Bath University, Dillington House and other further education centres.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Essential Vehicle Identification Guide
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers; 2nd Revised edition edition (April 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906626316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906626310
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By JGA357 VINE VOICE on April 30, 2009
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This history of Soviet tank units in World War 2 has a lot going for it...excellent artwork, good organization, and engaging text. It does a great job of laying out the basic organization of Soviet tank units from the pre-war era to the end of the war. Kudos to the author, too, for including sections on Soviet operations in Finland (the Winter War),the often neglected conflict in Manchuria in 1939 and the "August Storm" offensive in Manchuria in 1945. The sections on "non-tanks" such as the multiple rocket launchers and artillery tractors are a nice touch, too.

It probably is a nitpicky complaint given that the book is about Soviet tank units and not the tanks per se, but there is little data about the tanks themselves other than a short specifications box with each drawing. Also lacking is any real treatment of how the tanks performed in battle. As mentioned, the text is engaging but it treats the campaigns outlined at a very strategic level so the reader will have to go to other sources for a more detailed examination.

Those minor complaints aside, this book is well worth the very reasonable price.
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In the Preface, the author considers his book an introduction to Soviet Armor and its history; its not intended to compete with the huge encyclopedias that are available. As an introduction, it was rated 5 stars for its comprehensive assortment of illustrations, graphic tables depicting the complement of tank units from company level upwards, battle summary and photos.
The illustrations include light, medium and heavy duty tanks, antitank and the variations that developed throughout the war. It also covered armor cars, trucks, rocket launchers, ambulances, staff cars, jeeps and cycles. Lend lease tanks and trucks as well as tractors and towing vehicles round out the list.

To my surprise, Mr Porter also includes a brief history of Russian armor which started around the time of the revolution and continues its coverage to the start of the war. The summary includes Marshall Tukhachevsky and his driving force in improving war doctrine and Red Army modernization in the early and mid 1930s. Stalin's purges were also covered.
The author also provides a brief but helpful summary of key tank battles during the war. It includes the engagements at Dubissa River, Bialystok, Minsk, Kiev, Moscow, Rzhev, Vyazma, Kharkov, Stalingrad, the Caucasus, Uranus, Bagration, Lvov, Berlin and even Manchuria. Before Barbarossa, the Spanish Civil War, and the invasions of Poland and Finland are mentioned.
The Appendix includes tables of Lend-lease production and delivery quantities. It shows losses of T34s by year as well as Soviet tank production figures by year. A table also shows a comparison of German and Soviet tank strengths for various campaigns. In addition to the illustrations and tables, a good number of battlefield photos are presented.

This is a competent primer that for many would probably be an excellent starting place to learn before moving up to the giant 500 plus page encyclopedias.
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This is the latest in a series of identification guides of various armies and formations. As a source of accurate, full-colored paintings they can't be beat. All of them have a large selection of various vehicles in many different color schemes, from the early war gray to the various "ambush" patterns. In addition, they have many organization charts showing actual vehicle paintings which give a much better "feel" of what an organiztion really looked like.

There are many photos as well, and a concise unit or type history. Highly recommended for the model or war-game enthusist.
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I bought this book 3 years ago as a book club selection and was very disappointed. While this book may serve as an introduction to Soviet Tanks identification and generic unit composition used during WW 2, it is far from anything else, or "Essential" as indicated in the title. It is a 192 page cookie cutter book by David Porter, published by Amber Books. Amber Publishing is located in the UK, and has a number of books set into the same format on related subjects by the major participating belligerents. While this book seems to aimed for those who are unfamiliar with Soviet Tank types and company/battalion unit compositions, it is not for the dedicated aficionado looking for new information. However, as misleading as the title is, the book does have some merit. It is fairly well laid out and systematic in how the subject matter is presented - lots of artwork and and unit composition diagrams - sprinkled with a smattering of B/W photos of the various vehicles. The narrative is has very abbreviated accounts of some of the major battles that Soviet Armored forces participated. For those who are more want more detail on design and development of Soviet Tanks should consult "SOVIET TANKS AND COMBAT VEHICLES OF WORLD WAR TWO" by Steven J. Zaloga and James Grandson. You may be able to find a used copy through Amazon since this book has been out of print for some time. For those who want more detailed information on a particular tank(s), Osprey Publishing (UK) has numerous titles on specific tanks. For those who want detailed diagrams, production information, in depth combat narratives, should seek some of the titles offered through JJ Federowicz Publishing in Canada, and Schiffer Publishing USA.
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