Tanks And Combat Vehicles Of The Warsaw Pact, by Russell Phillips
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
As someone who has read a fair amount of the author’s work, this book fits along many of those works  in being a detailed discussion of historical military technology. Although the Cold War is, mercifully, no longer going on, the military doctrine of the Soviet Union and those powers under its rule after World War II was to emphasize low costs in production and maintenance, a high degree of mobility, and ease of use and learning, and it is likely that enemies and potential enemies of the United States military in the future will similarly wish to adopt military technologies that do not require the sort of costs that contemporary American military technologies do, as a way of getting more bang for their buck. At any rate, this book provides a thoughtful way of informing readers about the military technology used by the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and those readers who have an interest in such matters will have a great deal to enjoy and appreciate with this book, as long as they are able to understand its British English vocabulary, which speaks of lorries and tyres instead of trucks and tires, as would be familiar to an American audience.
In terms of its contents, this book is as straightforward as any book by this author is. The book offers exactly what its title promises, a discussion about the tanks and combat vehicles of the Warsaw Pact, featuring mostly Soviet models of equipment but also discussing Czechoslovak, Romanian, Polish, East German, Bulgarian, and Hungarian models where appropriate, some discussions of which provide a great deal of interesting commentary in cooperation between nations like Cezchoslovakia and Poland as well as the issues of nationalism that led to certain indigenous military technologies even among the Soviet-controlled regimes of the Cold War. The roughly 200 pages or so of this book cover the following combat vehicles of the Warsaw Pact: tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, anti-tank vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons, guns, howitzers, and mortars, multiple rocket launchers, and tactical ballistic missiles, many of which were destroyed after the passage of the Intermediate Ballistic Missile treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. Each entry includes a brief history of the particular technology, often discussing aspects of its design process and the names by which it was known (sometimes erroneously) in the West, as well as photos and detailed discussions of the specifications and capabilities of the weapons.
Even for someone whose memory of the Cold War is rather limited, there is still a great deal of interest to be found here. For example, there was a strong preference to use tires rather than tracks because of the ease and lower cost of maintaining such vehicles despite the resulting loss in off-road capacity. Likewise, the development of models of tanks and other vehicles was often dependent on the bureaucratic competition between different state-run companies or bureaus. Some of the technologies discussed in this book were tried in combat experiences in the Yom Kippur War as well as the unsuccessful invasion of Afghanistan, and one of the technologies was memorably exposed as being inaccurate during the first Gulf War, the much-maligned SCUD missiles used by Iraq against the civilians of Israel in a misguided attempt to provoke Israel to retaliate, making the Arab coalition against him untenable, which is alluded to very gently in the book. A reader of this book will likely gain a great deal of understanding, as well as some degree of insight, into the choices made by the Soviet Union and its subject nations concerning their military technologies during the Cold War.
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