Chieftain...

...Britain's Flawed Masterpiece, from MMP Books

Title:  Chieftain

Author: Richard Kent

Publisher:  MMP

ISBN:  978-83-65958-29-7

This new softcover book in their Green Series from MMP Books takes on a well known AFV, the Cold War era British MBT, the Chieftain. I have to admit that having grown up during the years when the Chieftain was the British Army's MBT. So essentially they were expensive and largely 'secret' in terms of security.  Hence hard to believe in some ways they these days some are now privately owned and run.

So, what does this new book hold for us? Written by Richard Kent who served on Chieftain during his time in the British Army, and a well known modellers who not only helped with the recent production of the Takom Chieftain kits that have been made, but with an obvious and genuine affection for this Cold War warrior. Much of the design was excellent, but its' reputation was let down by the unreliability of the L60 engine. I know when I have watched a display of Chieftain variants at the Tank Museum, we usually expect at least one of them to break down in the arena, and sadly I've witnessed it a few times.  The book itself is split over 12 chapters, plus 4 Annexes. The main chapters cover From Paper to Prototypes: Chieftain Production: Chieftain Development in the British Army: The Saga of the L60 Engine: The TN12 Gearbox: Specialised Variants, Weapon Platforms & Development Testbeds: Living with Chieftain: Moving with Chieftain: BATUS: Foreign Sales: The Chieftain in Action and finally, Walk-rounds & Interiors. The four Annexes include Camouflage and Markings along with plans, and colour profiles: Selected Preserved Examples: Hollywood Waits at the End of the Rainbow:  and Specifications.

The text in the main chapters is not only informative, explaining the service history of Chieftain with the British Army as well as various foreign operators.  Added to this though are an entertaining selection of 'stories' from the author and other ex-tankies who served on Chieftain, many of which will make you smile and some that might make you take a deep breath.  Lots of photos, illustrating the tanks in service, including mishaps such as those which fall of railway flat cars or which were otherwise wrecked (read the story about one at BATUS). The Walk-rounds have a host of photos showing all kinds of detail on the Mk 10 and 11, the AVRE and the ARRV, both inside and out.  It is an excellent all-round  account of the Chieftain and lots of memories from ex-servicemen as well as a lot of fine detail and ideas for modellers.  See the artwork and the photo of the real thing with an overall bright pink Chieftain!  First class book from author Richard Kent and publishers MMP, a must I think for anyone with an interest in the Chieftain MBT. I have no hesitation in recommending this one.

Thanks to MMP Books, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin