...The Soviet Army's Cold War MBT, a new Images of War book from Pen and Sword


Title: T-54/55

Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-109-8

Another addition to the Images of War series from author Anthony Tucker-Jones.  A good addition to the series as it covers the most produced MBT since WW2.  Rather than go for light, medium and heavy tanks as they had during WW2, the Soviets went for a design that provided an all-rounder, what we refer to now as a Main Battle Tank, or MBT.  Added to the original Russian production, other countries also built them under licence.  These include Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and China.  As is explained in the book, there is no definitive number of the T54/55 which have been built but it is thought to be well in excess of 70,000, making it the most produced tank in history, even outstripping the T34.

As well as the background text which starts each of the 11 chapters tell the story of the T54/55, including other variants on the basic chassis, the selection of photos is excellent.  These are all individually captioned, including yet more information, and provide some excellent references for modellers.  Moving through the story from the early development, with the changing shape of the early turrets and then taking a close-up look at the tank.  Chapter 3 provides the details of the many variants as different improvements/upgrades were introduced.  Then there are the Specialized variants, including AA weapons and bridgelayers.  Then came the copies, within the Warsaw Pact and from China.  Then there are the Middle Eastern Upgrades, and the tank became the 'Darling of the Left', as they were readily available at a reasonable price.  They fought around the world, in Vietnam, the Balkans,  Africa and the Middle East.  As the years went on though, the T54/55 series tanks suffered heavily when faced with even more modern Western tanks.

The book gives a good look at the T54/55 story and makes a good job of it.  In the later years though the number of photos which illustrate many knocked-out/destroyed examples, its' age is certainly clear.  In addition to the nice clear detail references for the modeller, there are a number of photos which will inspire some model dioramas as well I have no doubt.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.