Armoured Trains

...An Illustrated Encyclopedia


Title:  Armoured Trains...

Author: Paul Malmassari

Publisher:  Seaforth Publishing

ISBN:  978-1-84832-262-2

...An Illustrated Encyclopedia

This large new hardback book from Seaforth Publishing is an absolute gem.  If you have any interest in armoured trains then you will be fascinated by this one.  Originally published back in 1989 in French, this is a new English translation and updated edition of the original.  With over 1500 photos this is simply amazing.  I suspect that many with an interest in WW2 will be aware of the armoured trains used by the German Military, and perhaps by the Russians as well as both British and French Railway guns.  What you discover though is a much bigger story, from the early days of armoured trains used during the American Civil War, but how about more recently in the various conflicts in the Balkans.  It is also not just a question of large armoured trains, it also includes coverage of the smaller, individual rail trollies that were used for scouting/recc0naissance duties as the long tracks could not be constantly watched, so scouting them out for potential sabotage was an essential requirement to stop trains being derailed and attacked.  Simple things like removing the bolts from the plates that joined the lengths of rail which are very difficult to spot but if hit by a large train would lead to great destruction.  Hence the value of these small scouting trollies, which have been found all round the world over the years.

The book is arranged by country, in a simple alphabetic sequence.  Countries like Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the USA are naturally included, with periods from the American Civil War, the Boer War, WW1 and WW2.  In addition though, how about  other countries such as Argentina, Bosnia, Cambodia, China, Croatia, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Mexico, North Korea, Peru, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Sweden and Vietnam among many others.

The photos show all sorts of variety.  From the large trains and wagons to the small rail trollies as well.  For the military modellers, these include an interesting variety of vehicles which were converted to run on rails in various countries around the world.   They include things like Jeeps, the M3 White Scout Car, Japanese armoured cars, Italian Autoblindas and even more up to date, how about the BTR-40 and even larger BTR-80.  Also included, not for everything but with enough to keep many railway modellers very happy, there are 1/87 scale drawings of all sorts of engines, wagons and trollies so you could make your own models.  Among the many photos are some impressive scenes, and equipment which had clearly been specially built, others made in local workshops and others just using what was available locally.  One in particular grabbed my eye, as it is a simple armoured box wagon, with rifles poked through firing ports in the side.  It just so reminded me of the image of Dad's Army, and their drill using ports in the sides of Cpl Jones's butchers van.  The whole book is just packed with fascinating material.

At £50.00 RRP it is not a cheap book, but with 528 pages in a large format hardback book this is actually not a bad price at all, certainly one I would be happy to buy to keep as a key reference book on the bookshelf, and worth checking out any current deals for discounts on the Pen and Sword website.