The Hungarian Defence Force (Magyar Honvedseg) was formed on the 15th March 1990, just over a year prior to the complete withdrawal of Soviet units from the country and the end of Warsaw Pact for Hungry. Since that time the HDF has undergone gradual modernization and changes to its organizational structure (a process which was actually commenced as early as 1986). The period since the HDF gained independence has also been marked by significant troop and vehicle reductions, with compulsory service scrapped, and in 2004 the decision to downsize the number of tracked fighting vehicles in service, down to financial constraints among other reasons. As of 2010, the number of HDF personnel totals 23,000.
Today, as a fully established NATO member, Hungry still fields a sizable force of tanks, personnel carriers and air defence capabilities, of both Soviet origin and newer more modern designs. Hungry has been a key participant too in many over sea’s NATO operations, from the former Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, where it has taken up its fair share of responsibilities.
The soft bound book is the latest in Tankograd
’s Missions and Manoeuvres series and has 64 pages and 149 colour photographs as well as five black and white pictures. There are five pages of written text, with dual German and English columns on either side; the rest of the book is given over entirely to photo pages, with each picture having an accompanying caption providing further detailed information.
The contents are as follows:
Hungarian Military Ground Forces 1990-2010:
Five pages of a comprehensive written introduction to the HDF detailing the past 20 years of organizational developments, with plenty of numerical and background information. Two pages are given over to information relating to the various military equipments currently in use and the branches of the HDF operating them. Finally there is a list of HDF units as of 2010.
Soft Skin Vehicles:
13 pages dedicated to the various soft skin military vehicles operated by the HDF. Most of the 38 pictures in this section are of the vehicles in the field on exercises or on operational deployments. The following vehicles are pictured:
• Mercedes G-Wagon
• UAZ 469
• UAZ 452
• LuAZ 967
• GAZ 66
• Unimog U1300L
• Unimog 435
• Unimog mounted Mistral 2
• MAN HX32.440
• Raba H14 & H18
• Raba fire engine
• Csepel D-566
• Ural 4320
• ZIL 131
• Kamaz 4310
• KrAZ 255B
• Faun BFK-35.4 crane
• Tatra T815
• MAZ 537G (inside of front cover)
Three pages focusing on engineering equipments. Vehicles pictured:
• BRDM 2Kh
• BAT 2M
BRDM, FuG & BTR Wheeled Armour:
This section over six pages covers these three vehicle types in HDF service. The photographs show the vehicles both in training and on operational deployments.
• BRDM 2
• BRDM 2 mounted 9P122 ATGM
• FUG 70
• BTR 60PU-12
• BTR 80
• BTR 80MVJ
BTR-80A Wheeled Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle:
5 pages looking at the BTR-80A in HDF service. The 11 photos show the vehicle both in training as well as during operations. Of particular interest are several pictures of the vehicles in Afghanistan as part of ISAF, sporting the colourful red warning placards and Arabic markings.
5 pages focusing on the Hungarian BMP-1. The photos all show the vehicle during training manoeuvres. There are 12 photos showing the BMP-1 and 2 showing VPV recovery vehicle.
Artillery and Air-Defence Vehicles:
This chapter, covering 8 pages, looks at the various AA and artillery vehicles in HDF service. Once again all of the vehicles photographed during training exercises in Hungary, but show a hugely diverse and interesting array of vehicles. I particularly liked one photo which showed all the vehicles which form a 2K11 Krug unit.
• 1V14 Masina Command vehicle
• 2K12 KUB
• Long Track radar vehicle
• 2P24 & TZM load vehicle
• BRDM-2 w/Sztrela 1
• S-60 57mm AA gun
• Oerlikon cannon
• 122mm 2S1 Gvosdyka
• 100mm MT-12 AT Gun
• BM-21 MLRS
T-54/55 Main Battle Tank:
This 5 page chapter focuses on the T-54 & T-55 main battle tank, which was the primary Hungarian MBT until the introduction of the T-72, and still soldiered on with the HDF into the late 90’s. 12 Photos show a variety of different T-54/55 variants including AM versions. Despite the chapter title I couldn’t see a single picture of a T-54. Of particular interest is one photo showing a domestically modernized T-55.
T-72 Main Battle Tank:
The final chapter looks at the current HDF main battle tank. There are 32 photos in total, showing a huge variety of vehicles and colour schemes, including a very garish 3 tone scheme celebrating the visit of a Belgian delegation in 2002. It’s mostly T-72M1’s and A’s that are pictured, as well as possibly a couple of shots of T-72B’s, and one modernized T-72 with ERA.
Finally on the inside of the rear cover there is also a large photograph of an ex(?) Hungarian T-34/85, and two T-55’s marked up as Soviet tanks during the filming of the 2006 feature film ‘Children of Glory’ which takes place during the 1956 uprising.
This is a most welcome release from Tankograd Publishing and begins to fill a big void in readily available reference materials on modern Eastern European armor. For anyone seeking an overview of Hungary’s modern land forces then I cannot recommend this book enough. This book will, however, have wider appeal to pretty much anyone with an interest in modern military vehicles of Russian origin. As we have come to expect from Tankograd, the written text is superb and offers first class detailed information in an easy to digest way without overwhelming the reader. This is backed up further by the picture captions which add to the readers overall understanding of the formation of the modern HDF, as well as outlining what the pictures show.
As always with these books it is, of course, the photographic reference which is the main feature of this publication. I always find it hard to fault the pictures in Tankograd books and this is no exception. The shots are, in most cases, very clear and well focused and show the vehicles to good effect. The book doesn’t offer ‘walk around’ detail shots by any means, but is an invaluable source in showing off the different colour schemes and markings of HDF vehicles.