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Armour – The development of mechanised forces and their equipment

By: Richard M. Ogorkiewicz (840/35831)
Publisher: Stevens & Sons Ltd (From the John Laffin Library)

This is the first comprehensive account of armoured forces-the way they have evolved, the vehicles they use and how they fight.

The author presents a wealth of fascinating detail on every aspect of this subject. Here are the bizarre forerunners of the modern armoured vehicle – F.R. Simms’ armed quadricycle of the last century, the steam tractor, Little Willie, and the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

All here above all is the tank, the most romantic and colourful of all armoured vehicles. The author shows how its logical evolution was checked at times by military conservatism, and how the attitude towards it could change capriciously and without justification. We can see the genius of tank designers like J. Walter Christie, the fruits of whose dogged experimentation were harshly tested in action during the Second World War.

The author’s account is well nigh definitive: there are chapters on technical problems (how many people know that the steam engine was once visualised as a source of motive power for the tank, and that gas turbine recently his advocates?) and chapters detailing the main types of armour-the self-propelled gun, the armoured infantry carrier, the amphibious vehicle and the armoured car.

All this information is set against the complex, historical, strategic and tactical background. The author gives concise accounts of the use of armour in many campaigns and battles-at Cambrai and Amiens during the first World War, in the Spanish Civil War, on the Eastern Front and during the Allied invasion of 1944.

The interplay of theory and practice brings fascinating glimpses of the great protagonists of armoured warfare-Fuller, Guderian and Liddell Hart are names which have changed the face of war. The author includes an assessment of the role of armour in our nuclear age.

An unusual appendix traces the ancestry of the tank from the Sumerian military cart of 3500 BC, through the Hussite wagonlaager of the Middle Ages to Voltaire’s half-serious ideas for an armoured vehicle which he put up to the court of Catherine the Great.

Armour is the ideal book for the student of military history and the layman alike. It will appeal, in particular, to all those who have ever fought with armoured vehicles.

May 2008


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