Book Review: The Dark Age of Tanks  Britain.s Lost Armour 1945-70

Book Review: The Dark Age of Tanks Britain.s Lost Armour 1945-70

David Lister
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
The story of British Armour during the Second World War is well known and has attracted a host of excellent military writers. The British Army finished the war with their Cromwells, Comets, Churchills and American Grant Shermans and Fireflys. The route there had been painful, littered with a plethora of prototypes, design failures and cancelled projects. With the Comet the British had a tank capable of matching any of the German panzers.

The post war future armoured battlefield was obviously going to be a different sort of environment. The first night vision systems were being deployed by the Wehrmacht (PAK 40 and ZG1229). IS-3 was put on display by the Red Army at the Berlin victory parade and thoughts were turning to the possibility of atomic weapons on the battlefield.

The main focus of Britain’s post war tank design would be the Centurion which would be the Main Battle Tank replacing earlier doctrine of separate Infantry and cruiser tank types. Centurion would see a production run of 4423 with users as diverse as Switzerland , Somalia and Canada .In turn Chieftan would replace Centurion.

All clear and simple? Think again, in the post war years Conqueror would make a brief appearance in BAOR only while Caernarvon preceded it but was never deployed. Project Contentious also receives a mention A heavy APC was also mooted but abandoned , a concept now demonstrated by vehicles such as Achzarit and BTR-T. The Infantry Tank would perhaps return in the guise of MICVs , the first being the RARDEN turreted 432s deployed in the Berlin Brigade

David Lister’s book charts a way through this confusing maze. It is also written to be reasonably interesting. It is aimed at those with a working knowledge of British armour and is a strong purchase for the serious track minded reader.

The illustrations are good , if a little grainy in places. As ever Pen & Sword have produced to a high standard The eagle eyed will spot a typo on page 85 where radiation shielding should produce a ¼ dose not 3/4 . David Lister has done a good job in researching and preserving a slice of armoured history. The frustrations are eloquently set out in his introduction. The book is priced at £19.99 but there are copies on Amazon from £15.99

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