It hardly seems possible that Tankograd Publishing has now released their 18th addition to the In Detail Fast Track series. As the title suggests this offering looks at the British Army Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, a tank that has only had losses in the field due to a blue on blue incident, no Challenger 2 has been lost to enemy fire.
This release from Tankograd Publishing consists of 40 good quality glossy pages that display the photographs well. In total there are 104 photographs of the Challenger 2 in this title.
The book being part of the In Detail Fast Track series from Tankograd Publishing the text is all in English. The text is restricted to a couple of pages as in depth written detail is not the goal of this book or any of the books in this series. That said it does provide a breakdown of how and why the Challenger 2 came about, its structure with the British Army and the current status and future proofing of the Challenger 2.
The version of the Challenger 2 that has been photographed for this title is what I think of as a peace time tank, this means that the add on armour bells and whistles are not present, but this does give me a future title to look forward to maybe. The photographs begin with full page pictures providing a 360 degree general walk around of the Challenger 2. the tanks shown cover the NATO black and green that I am familiar with plus an all green offering and the BATAN colours. I like that the Challenger 2 has not been washed for the occasion in many of the images here as it aids as a weathering reference as well as a tank reference. One particularly stunning image is of a Challenger 2 being passed by an Apache, the crews look close enough to almost shake hands. This section of the book finishes with technical data on the Challenger 2 that will be useful to those concerned with absolute dimensional accuracy.
The book then moves onto a detailed walk around of the hull. The captions provided to accompany all of the photographs are excellent and clearly identify what you are looking at and specific points of interest. The areas of note that came to my attention are the cut outs for the lights in the splash board and the use hessian material or like to cover up the red fire extinguishers at the front and the cap end of the fuel barrels hanging on the rear. As I mentioned earlier the Challenger is in the field and got a little dirty, this is excellent detail for those modellers who want detailed weathering reference, it even shows clearly how black the exhausts get.
The suspension is also covered together with the hull and there are a few points of interest to note. One is that there are two types of road wheel design and this challenger 2 has both styles fitted, the early wheels are solid and the latest type that have a ring of holes that are placed to help keep the area between the inner and outer wheel clear of mud and obstructions. The actual tyres on this example of the Challenger two are in pretty good condition, but even so some damage is clearly visible, in particular and perhaps surprisingly on the return rollers.
The engine deck of the Challenger gets its own section in the title allowing the modeller to pick out details. The barrel travel lock is covered in this area. You can also consider the next short section covering the power pack of the tank as part of the engine deck section. Of interest here is the metal arm that holds up the inspection hatch; health and safety maybe? The tracks are also covered here, which was unexpected and I was a little disappointed as I would have liked to see some larger images, my reason being that it is an area that modellers often get hot under the collar about.
The turret is next and this has been covered very well. The details of the turret all appear to have at least one photograph and in most cases more than one. One of the photographs does a very good job of showing just how small the turret hatches are if you need to get out in a hurry. While talking of the hatches I am pleased to see that Tankograd Publishing has provided photographs of both the inner and outer faces.
The armament is up next and Tankograd Publishing has done a particularly good job of this aspect. The loaders GPMG is covered with some good detail photographs and something I have failed to mention until now is that as a crew is in situ it could be considered a reference for them as well. The main gun, its sighting and coaxial machine gun are well covered, I was pleased to learn that the British Army now plan to retain the rifled barrels on the Challenger 2 in order to avoid shooting somewhere over there! (Yes I know that is no longer the case). The smoke grenade launchers are covered here and I feel these are an important aspect to get right due to their prominence on the Challenger 2. The title ends with a look at some training rounds.
This is an excellent photographic reference of the Challenger 2 minus is added on armour packages. The captions that accompany the photographs do a good job of clearly explaining what you are looking at and in some cases providing the correct terminology. I would have liked to see better photographs of the tracks, or more accurately larger photographs. I especially like that Tankograd Publishing photographed a Challenger 2 that had been in the field and so dirty, also that a crew was present and in their stations. All told very nicely done.
Highs: Excellent colour photographs depicting a tank as it should be seen with lashings of dirt.Lows: The images of the tracks could have done with being larger.Verdict: This is a very affordable reference for the modeller on a budget while still providing everything they are likely to need visually.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...