Red Army Auxiliary Armored Vehicles 1930-1945 is a very well researched and written book on a relatively unknown subject. With less fanfare than the armored combat vehicles that did the actual fighting, these are the Russian vehicles in support and auxiliary service that made a lot of the fighting possible. This book is a departure from the usual Images of War format. Rather than a brief summary of the chapter to come with a dizzying number of great photographs, the first 61 pages of this 152-page book is all text with detailed footnotes. The photographic sections are broken into 1930-1940 and 1941-1945.
The Russian Army has a history of focusing on numbers and attrition. This is obvious as any modeler or student of World War II history on the Eastern Front can name Red Army tanks and armored vehicles, including the T-34, KV and IS variants along with Su-76s. This book focuses on the vehicles not typically seen or recorded: the bridge layer, fighting chemical, flamethrower, mine-clearing, transportation, and tractor vehicles. There are 16 tables to augment the text showcasing classification of tanks recovery equipment, strength after major battles, maintenance, and numbers of vehicles tested at the Main Armour Directorate (GBTU) from 1931 to 1945.
As usual, the strength of these books, and this one, are the photographs. While models don’t exist (yet) of most of these oddities, modelers can modify existing models and scratch build into rarities, including the TTP (Tank Preodoleniya Prepyatstvi, literally “obstacle crossing tank”) which was an interwar vehicle based on the T-26 tank (pp 79-80) designed to jump over obstacles by using the kinetic energy of the moving tank and eccentric gears. While a failure, there were lessons learned and incorporated into future designs, such as a driver’s seat with a shock-absorbing mechanism and safety straps.
While photos of Russian infantry riding on tanks into battle are not rare, there is a series of photographs showing how troops are to be loaded on the T-35/85, ISU-152, SU-76, and SU-100. While most photographs are staged and used during evaluations, there are shots in the field that provide a lot of inspiration for models, vignettes, and dioramas.
Alexey Tarasov is to be congratulated for a well-researched and documented book on a little-known subject of the World War II Red Army. The photographs alone support the price of the book. The text is valuable to anyone who wants to learn more about the doctrine and employment of armored forces in the field, especially the auxiliary and support troops and equipment that make combat possible. A quote near the end of the book sums it up well, “Some Soviet reports stressed that ‘the equipment of the Soviet army falls behind all foreign armies in terms of all types of auxiliary equipment.”
Profuse thanks to Casemate and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.
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