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The Dark Age of Tanks...


...Britain's Lost Armour 1945-1970, from Pen and Sword



Title: The Dark Age of Tanks

Author: David Lister

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-52675-514-8

Another interesting book from author David Lister, looking at the various stories of potential armoured vehicles that didn't actually make it into British Army service between 1945 and 1970. The title of the book, 'The Dark Age of Tanks', comes from the number of gaps that exist in the records of the work that was carried out over the period.
A 194-page hardback book it is split into 4 main parts, and each of these is sub-divided into the various chapters. Part 1 looks at 'Armour of the Line', where different plans came and went, changing as did the requirements they had to meet. There are the questions of a heavily armoured tank, the Universal tank, a desire to keep a flamethrower in the army inventory and of course, the size of the main gun. Part 2 moves on to 'Light Armour', with again a mix of projects, some of which never got beyond the paper or mock-up design stages. The one I had known nothing about beforehand was the attempt to build a light armoured vehicle, either wheeled or tracked, which could 'jump' obstacles. Part 3 considers 'Infantry Armour', and this includes the Oxford and Cambridge carriers, as well as the FV432. Then finally, Part 4 takes on the 'War Rocket'. This includes the large missiles such as Malkara and Orange William, before things got to Swingfire, which many of us will know.
The book has a helpful list of Sources at the end of the book, and throughout the story there are archive photos, drawings and in some cases computer images of what a vehicle might have looked like. A really interesting read for anyone interested in post-war armour development in the UK, and some pieces which I had never seen before. The idea of a 'flying' armoured car for one. I think I won't be the only one surprised to discover that so many records seem to have disappeared, skipped rather than saved. This is an investigation which provides a good groundwork, but maybe additional details will yet emerge over time from somewhere.


Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.


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