This fully bilingual book was written in English by Gordon Arthur and translated into German by Jochen Vollert. The 64 page opus is one of the newest additions to Tankograd Publishing’s Series 7000 “Missions & Manoeuvres”. Gordon Arthur is an expert on Asian and Pacific armour, and writes what is probably the first up to date publication on the subject, the previous one being “Battlegroup Leopard : Australian armour exercises in the North” by Michael K. Cecil published by Castella in 1998.
between the covers
To put things into context, the book starts off with a short history of the Australian Army and then goes into detail into the current organization of the 1st Brigade. Note this is just the1st Brigade of the 1st Division covered but this being the army’s major mechanised formation, the focus is warranted. The unit is based in Darwin, in the Northern Territory.
The rest of the book illustrates Australian Army vehicles in the field and at public presentations (I’m guessing here). All photographs have German/English captions describing the vehicles in detail: there are about 137 pictures in 64 pages, all but one in colour. Those photographs are very good, they come mostly from the author and Gunner Shannon Joyce while some originate from official sources. As usual, Tankograd Publishing have wisely presented some photos in full page spread fashion. The majority of photographs were taken in the field, in the Australian Bush, some may have been made prior to a public presentation of vehicles. I must say the first time I browsed through the book, I found that many of the pics were backlit. This is the case for both main photographers and may or may not have been caused by the strong Australian light. I feel the use of flash would have yielded better results but looking at the book again and again, the defect is no longer so obvious...
The photo coverage starts with wheeled vehicles, first lighter ones such as the Land Rover series (including some very unique 6 wheeled ones, about 5 pages) then the slightly heavier Unimog truck family (about 3 pages), moving on to gradually bigger and bigger trucks such as MACKs and tank transporters (about 6 pages), a page covers bulldozers then wheeled armour is featured, beginning with the Australian Bushmaster (5 pages) and the ASLAV family (11 pages). The book then goes on to artillery (M198 howitzers, 2 pages), and the family of M113 tracked armoured vehicles (12 pages), moving on to MBTs with Leopard AS1s and variants (5 pages), M88A2 Armoured Recovery Vehicle (1 page) and finally M1A1 AIM main battle tanks (8 pages). It’s a good selection of military vehicles in Australian service, plus some that were withdrawn in relatively recent times (Leopards and M113 MRV).
Here’s a detailed list of the vehicles/weapons featured:
• Land Rover 110 4x4 GS • Land Rover 110 FFR • 6 wheeled Land Rover Perentie • 6 wheeled Land Rover General Maintenance Light Winch • 6 wheeled Land Rover Ambulance • 6 wheeled Land Rover SATCOM Terminal Assemblage • 6 wheeled Land Rover Circuit Switch Assemblage • Unimog U1700L GS truck • Unimog U1700L GS truck with Shelter • Unimog U2450L 6x6 Medium Recovery Vehicle • MACK R-series Heavy Dump Truck • MACK MC3 Heavy Cargo Truck • MACK Heavy Fuel Tanker • International Harvester SF2670 Truck with semi-trailer • MAN Heavy Tank Transporter • Caterpillar D3C Bulldozer • John Deere 850J Bulldozer • Bushmaster 4x4 • ASLAV-PC (Personnel Carrier) • ASLAV-C (Command) • ASLAV-A (Ambulance) • ASLAV-F (Fitters) • ASLAV-R (Recovery) • ASLAV-25 • M198 155mm Towed Howitzer • M113A1 • M548A1 • M113AS4 • M579A1 (Fitters) • M577A1 • M806A1 ARVL • M125A1 Mortar Carrier • M113 MRV (Scorpion turret) • Leopard AS1 • Leopard Armoured Recovery Vehicle Medium • M88A2 Hercules • M1A1 AIM Main Battle Tank
Overall an excellent primer on Australian military vehicles currently in service, and recommended to modellers. There are many of those vehicles in that can be built out of plastic kits and resin conversions in various scales, such as those from Mouse House for instance. The book will be most useful as reference for the 1/35th ASLAV kit to be released by Trumpeter in the future.
Highs: Unique English language book on the subject, good photos, extensive coverage of ASLAV, M113 families and the M1AIM. Good value.Lows: Coverage of some vehicles is minimal, some pictures are backlit and would have benefited from flash photography. Some of the newest upgraded M113 variants are not shown in pictures.Verdict: Having spent nine years of my life in New Zealand and Australia, I developed a keen interest in ANZAC armour and this volume from Tankograd definitely fits the bill!