Challenger 2 - Photosniper series

Challenger 2 - Photosniper series

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4.5 Mushroom Heads
Challenger 2 - Photosniper series #30. Edited by Dick Taylor
Published by: Kagero Publishing, Poland. ISBN: 978 83 65437 85 3.

Dick Taylor is a recently-retired British Army Lieutenant Colonel who has been deployed in many areas of the world, including Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan and lately, in Sierra Leone in the fight against Ebola. Joining the army as a junior soldier in 1976, he has served exclusively in the Royal Tank Regiment. Commissioned in 2000, he has specialised in tank gunnery instruction, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear operations, Psychological Operations, and defence exporting. He has a First Class degree in History, a Master of Philosophy degree in Historical Research, and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science. He is married with two sons and lives in Blandford Forum, Dorset. Among his many publications are:
Challenger 2 - Haynes Workshop Manual
Into the Valley - The Valentine Tank and it's derivatives.
Men Inside the Metal, Volumes I &II
Chieftain MBT - Haynes Workshop Manual
Firing Now - Anti-tank Artillery & Ammunition of UK and USA
Before the birth of MBT - Tank development from 1945 to 1968.

The Book
An 88 - page pictorial history of Britain's current Main Battle Tank. The author writes in an authoritative, no-nonsense style gained through years of service with a premier tank regiment. The text, accompanied by 187 colour photos and 3 pages of line drawn colour schemes, is exactly the right balance for the Modeller or Military Vehicle Historian.

Taylor has divided his book into 4 chapters with a 3 page appendix at the end. The chapter titles are as follows:
Chapter 1 - Design and Development; covering it's introduction from the various upgrades for Challenger 1 to the ill-fated MBT 80. Although Challenger 1 and indeed Chieftain were excellent tanks in their own right, by the end of the 1980's they were seriously lagging behind the MBTs of the former Soviet Union and others, and the upgrade to a new tank was vital.

Chapter 2 - Challenger 2 Described; Taylor goes to great pains to describe the innermost workings of the MBT. Nothing is left out, from the revised turret bustle, the TOGS (Thermal Observation Gunnery Sight), the add-on armour, right down to the dual pin track linkage system. This is a large but informative section of the book and is superbly written. It also contains a table of technical specifications.

Chapter 3 - The Armoured Regiment and Squadron; Once again, Taylor relies on his years of experience with the Royal Tank Regiment to narrate this chapter. Many ex-squaddies will neither know or care about type 38, 44 or 58 regiments, but to a Tankie it is vital. It tells him how many tanks there are in the regiment; A bit useful when faced with a combat situation! Taylor gives a fascinating insight into the workings of the Regiment and Squadron and gives a clue as to how the tanks are marked; very useful for the modern modeller.

Chapter 4 - Operational use and Variants; From peacekeeping duties in Bosnia to Combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Challenger 2 has proved it's worth in extremes of heat and cold. Variants have included BEMA (bulldozer, earth-moving attachment), Titan - Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB) in three different variants, Trojan - the Swiss Army Knife engineer operated AFV complete with lifting/digging boom and various Front End attachments, known as FEE (Front End Equipment) including mine plough and Python mine clearing system.

The appendix contains three pages of excellently drawn vehicles in full colour showing the various camouflage schemes used throughout Challenger 2s service.

All in all, I am very impressed with this book and will give it a good 4.5 out of 5 as a rating. Too often, ex-military officers write books and it is hard work for the non-soldier to understand the book. Not so in Dick Taylor's case. He writes well, with clarity and humour. His style shows he was an excellent instructor.

Good work Sir

Smeggers
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