Before the Birth of the MBT - Western Tank Development 1945-1959

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Dick Taylor and MP Robinson
Other Publication Information
Paperback, 180 pages, 22 color profiles, 150 archival photos
Company: Kagero Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

According to the Kagero website, this book is the first in a short series looking at the major developments of battle tanks by Western nations in the years following the end of the Second World War up through to the present day. This volume is a good mix of B&W images, design sketches, as well as a color photo section and selection of color profiles.

There is no real order of chapters the book follows. After a brief introduction paragraph, the overall majority of the book just delves into a general overview of the “Iron Trinity”- Firepower, Protection, and Mobility. The book then shifts into how late war versions of the Sherman, including the Easy Eight, were primarily used for training and continued to be used up until the time of the start of the Korean War. During this time, the M24 and M26 started to make their presence known, but not in as sufficient numbers as the military would’ve hoped. Photos early on in the book switch between training photos and in service shots from the Korean War.

The focus shifts from these tanks to a bit of a mix of various Cold War American tank prototypes and models- the M27, M103, M41, and M48, and M60. There isn’t a real order to things, but the photos are clear and interesting- showing various activities from the early 60s. The photo content shifts to British tanks at this point- although the text is discussing French tank designs- like the AMX-13...yet the photos for these tanks don’t show up for another twenty pages. I just feel the book would benefit from a bit more organization as things get real confusing when the text is describing something, but there are no photos nearby to refer to.

Photos for the British tanks really begin with the immediate late to post war Comet, and variants of Firefly and Churchill tanks. Brief forays into late war heavy tank designs like the A39 Tortoise tank destroyer, A43 Black Prince infantry tank, and A41 Heavy Cruiser are interesting, but the real coverage is all about the Centurion tank and its variants. The Soviet IS3 design spurred western tank designers to develop heavy tanks like the M103 and FV214 Conqueror as well.

We finally get to the French tanks now- like the AMX50 and AMX13, as well as French-owned M47s. One photo that popped out to me was an AMX13 SS11 TCA- an AMX13 equipped with the SS11 ATGM system. With Takom’s kit of this that I recently built, I immediately recognized the profile. Some interesting Swedish designs follow this-- as well as various other countries using Centurions, M47s and M48s such as West Germany and the Netherlands.

The next section of the book contains excellent line sketches of various tanks, including the Centurion I and II, and the Conqueror Mk. II. These drawings include excellent interior and exterior labeled diagrams that would be very useful to those modeling these tanks. They are in black and white, so there is no color references that would be beneficial, but I still think they are interesting. Ten pages of color photos of the various tanks in action follow and provide an excellent resource.

Color plates follow-- there are six pages of these if you include the back cover. They include profiles of Centurions from Great Britain and the Netherlands, French M47s, a British A41 prototype, and US Army and West German Bundeswehr M48s. The schemes are varied and provide great ideas for out of the norm schemes for your models.


Overall, I feel the book lends itself to being a great resource for modelers trying to come up with ideas for ideal dioramas for their post- WWII to early Cold War early main battle tanks. The photos are quite interesting- especially the color images. The color plates provide vivid schemes that are out of the ordinary and the black and white sketches give you information of what makes up what’s outside and inside the tanks. The lack of organization of the material inside the book can be confusing. Having the text broken up into chapters-- either by tank types or by the countries featured would be extremely beneficial for better comprehension. I recommend the book as it is full of great photos and interesting information- but just be forewarned that you’ll have a bit of a challenge wrapping your head around it all in how it is presented.


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.