The latest installment in Tankograd's Missions and Manoeuvres series deals with the modern Esercito Italiano (the Italian Army). The Italian military had been the subject of a significant modernization program in the past 30 years that has seen it become one of the cornerstones of any NATO plans or operational missions. This book is devoted to operational vehicles of the modern Italian Army (Esercito Italiano) on foreign deployments. Much of the coverage is devoted to vehicles in the Afghanistan and Iraq with some good coverage of the the KFOR mission being present as well.
The book is presented in A-size soft bound format. It was written by Sören Sünkler and contains 64 full colour pages of photographs. The quality of the pictures is excellent as has become the norm for Tankograd books. The main focus of this book is operational vehicles in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans (mostly KFOR).>/br>
The book begins with a brief 6 page history and overview of the modern Italian Army. A very helpful summary of the role and composition of each of the service branches is included along with a brief ORBAT and a summary of foreign deployments.
The book contains full German and English text and captions. Some of the information presented in some of the captions is a little suspect but appears to be mostly accurate. This may not be terribly important to most prospective purchasers as the book is first and foremost a visual reference.
While the book may initially seem heavy on the soft skin content, less than half of the pages are devoted to soft skin, engineering and support vehicles (yes I did count). The armor enthusiast will be pleased as the book is full of excellent in-action photos with several diorama ideas simply leaping from the pages. Modellers will appreciate this book as a reference for markings, stowage and weathering of operational Italian vehicles. Some of the pictures will tantalize ambitious modellers and may keep some awake searching for method to replicate a certain look. For example, there are several pictures of series 3 Centauros in Iraq with hastily removed KFOR and shipping stickers plainly visible on the turret Mikrex armor panels (I for one will lose sleep trying to solve that problem).
A list of the vehicles featured in the book would be as follows:
Land Rover 90
G-Wagon (one picture)
Fiat Iveco VM 90 T Torpedo
Fiat Iveco VM 90 P Protetto (the armored version of the VM 90T)
Iveco ACM 90 cargo and flatbed
Astra HD 66-45 M tipper
Astra APS 95
Astra AB 4x4
Fiat 260-35 WM Autogru M180 with Isoli Crane
Fiat-Allis F-14C Apripista dozer
Various engineering and support vehicles (front end loaders, graders, cement truck, tankers, trailers)
Puma VBL 6x6
Fiat 6614 (one picture)
Renault VAB NBC (one picture)
Centauro B-1 (both series 2 and series 3)
Hagglunds Bv 206
VCC-2 (one picture)
LVTP-7 (one picture)
MLRS (one picture)
PZH 2000 (one picture)
The content is rather heavy on the Afghanistan and Iraq missions with scant coverage being given to the Balkans and domestic deployments. The great majority of the VM-90 coverage is of vehicles in Afghanistan while almost all of the heavy lift and engineering plant are from the ISAF deployment. The four pages of Ariete photos are almost exclusively from Iraq with one picture of the 3-colour armor school trainer stuck in just to confuse the casual reader. The coverage of the Puma is exclusively from the ISAF deployment while the VCC-80 Dardo coverage is exclusively Iraq. The Centauro pictures feature series 3 vehicles in Iraq, series 2 (up-armored) and series 3 vehicles in Kosovo and one picture in Africa (Somalia I would guess). The VCC-1 pictures feature vehicles in Kosovo and Iraq and the AAV-7A1 photos are almost all from Iraq. The Leopard gun tank and M109L photos are all from the KFOR mission.
This book represents a photo essay of operational vehicles of the modern Italian army. While I would have like to have seen more of an armor focus to this book (that's my interest area), I feel fans of the heavy stuff will not be disappointed. I can objectively say that the book strikes a good balance between the major types of vehicles used by the Italian Army with excellent diorama ideas represented by many of the photos present. I would highly recommend this book primarily because reference material for enthusiasts of the modern Italian Army are not terribly plentiful.
A good balanced view of the vehicles used by the Italian Army.
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