Tankograd Publishing- Chieftain: Britain's Cold War Main Battle Tank
Author: Carl Schulze
British Special # 9031
Price: 14.95 euros
Softcover, English and German text, 72 pages with 92 color and 36 black and white photographs
Tankograd's books are always a wealth of excellent photos of armor and vehicles in various settings. This one on the Chieftain is no different. In fact, when I saw it, I took a visit up to the shop to see if I had anything in the stash to start on with the excellent reference book in front of me. Sure enough, there was the Takom kit and now the ideas started flowing. The book is arranged throughout with text in two columns- one in German on the left and an English translation on the right. All photos have captions in both languages as well-- German first and English in italics following it.
The book opens with a general overview of how the Chieftain came to be-- following and replacing the Centurion and Conqueror series of tanks. Included in this section is a look at the first prototypes and subsequent firing and user trials. After a few pages of text, the photos begin and cover the tank in many settings, including variants fitted for underwater driving tests. It must have been some sight to see these beasts rising out of the water.
A section follows that centers on Production Batches and Service. Upgrade and retrofit programs are outlined and there is even a section describing the Crew Protection Package (CPP) and Thermal Observation Gun Sight (TOGS). In the middle of this section is an awesome two-page long chart providing a list of the main marks and subtypes of the Chieftain in service with the British Army. Following this is a brief description of marks that never materialized. Subsequently, the book covers the Chieftain entering service, the regimental structure surrounding it, and the retirement from British Army Service in 1996.
The book then centers on photos, mostly in color, from each mark that operated. The following Marks make up this section:
- Mk 1
- Mk 2
- Mk 3
- Mk 3/3 (basically a modified hull to accept a newly designed engine)
- Mk 5
- Mk 6/7/8
- Mk 9
- Mk 10
- Mk 11
This section ends with some detailed close-up photos of the Thermal Imager Sensor Head (TISH) and aforementioned TOGS located on the left side of the turret.
The text of the book begins again with a technical description of the Mk 11 and a walkaround of the Mk 10C. The five pages of text include a brief description of the crew of four and thorough overviews of each of the following:
- Driver's Compartment
- Power Pack and Transmission Compartment
- Final Drives, Running Gear, and Brakes
- Electrical System
- No. 15 Mk 2 Commander's Cupola
- Main Armament
- Gun Control Equipment
- Coaxial Machine Gun
- NBC Protection System
What follows are great photos of an external walkaround of a Mk 10C. Close ups of the gun, headlights, turret, turret baskets, and commander cupola, hatches, and rear side are provided. There are no photos showing any of the interior environments of the tank present which is a bit of a bummer. We do see scattered about photos of stowage and where it was usually located which would help a modeler with detailing a build. We also get an excellent chart with technical data for the FV4201 Chieftain Mk II.
The book concludes with an excellent summary of the dozer attachments used to remove obstacles. We see the dozer in many in-action photos and in its various positions- from being raised completely to a partly raised driving position and slightly lowered position for night driving that lowers the blade below the headlights.
Tankograd has done another great work in covering the various marks of the Chieftain. We get loads of shots in its two-tone NATO camo and in urban warfare livery. I would have loved to have seen some photos of the interior of the tank and of the engine compartment, but maybe there might be another volume coming out with such detail...who knows? It would also have been interesting to see some photos of Chieftains serving with other operators- as some were used by Kuwait, Iraq, Israel, and the Netherlands. Current operators include Iran, Jordan, and Oman. However, the focus of the book is on Britain's Cold War Main Battle Tank, and in that respect, the book does an impressive job of covering the many variants of this vital MBT.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders looking to take on a Chieftain build.
Thanks goes out to Tankograd Publishing for this review sample.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves, AMPS Albany
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