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Soviet T-10 Heavy Tank and Variants

ISBN Number:
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Osprey Publishing
Retail Price:
US$ 30
Reviewed By:
Danny Egan

Soviet T-10 Heavy Tank and Variants


Osprey has brought us what is bound to be the best English-language history of the Soviet T-10 heavy tank and its derivatives. Written by specialists Stephen Sewell and James Kinnear, this new book is published with high quality hard covers and has 144 pages containing about 130 photos, drawings and color plates.  


If I can indulge a personal note, when I was much, much younger I thought the T-10 was simply a post-Stalin-era name for the IS-3 tank. (I must have been so young I couldn't count road wheels). Reading this book I was somewhat encouraged to read that western intel services couldn't keep things straight either - for many years the T-10 series was quite a mystery to the west.  

Most tank enthusiasts are familiar with the IS-3 tank, which emerged just as WW2 was ending. It represented the pinnacle of Soviet heavy tank design and haunted western designers for years. The US M103 and British Conqueror can trace the development directly from the existence of the IS-3. The IS-3 also has to be one of the best-looking tanks of all time.  

Below, the just-barely-wartime IS-3, the 'granddaddy' of the T-10 series.  


The IS-3 was not, however, a very good tank. Plagued with all kinds of problems, the need for a better heavy tank was obvious to the Soviets even if it was hidden in the west.

Sewell and Kinnear give an excellent history of how the T-10 was developed. The 122mm gun provided plenty of firepower, but the T-10 was a big improvement over the IS-3 in terms of mechanical reliability, protection and fightability.   

Below, a T-10 in Kubinka. 


 Tanks this heavy create their own new set of problems such as bridging and logistical support. Below, a  T-10 crosses an engineer bridge in a test. 



Osprey give us plenty of scale drawings and factory drawings. Below, scale plans and interior layout drawings of the T-10 


There are full-color interior shots, full color museum shots, and numerous parts drawings. Because the T-10 was never used operationally, most of the "in action" shots were taken in parades or proving grounds. 



We are also treated to a lot of full-color walkarounds of various T-10s in museums around the former USSR. 




There are quite a few excerpts from the operators' manual, including parts drawings, Indeed, the emphasis in this book is clearly on development and manufacturing. This makes sense for an item that was never used in combat. There is a wealth of detailed photographic coverage here, showing every major component from many angles.    




There are quite a few small editorial 'gotchas' in this book. On page 36, for example, we are told twice that the T-10 never saw combat. Throughout, the authors stray into political 'insider baseball' that is not always necessary nor accurate. Nikita Khuschev, for example, was best known as a metal worker and mine manager before rising through the party ranks as a commissar; as far as I know he was never a collective farm manager as the authors state, The ground pressure is given as .74 kg/cm2 for variants with different weights, but the same track length and width, which is incorrect. These are all small errors, but these, plus some awkward language, may show the need for better editing.



Pros: This is a great photo collection, especially the color walkarounds, which could be very valuable to modelers. Detailed development history is interesting. The non-tank derivatives are as interesting as the tanks; the TEC-3 tank-mounted nuclear generator is an unbelievable find. 

Cons: Occasional minor factual errors. The quality of the writing really distracts from the content. This book needed one pass from a good editor. 


Must Have for T-10 enthusiasts; Recommended for all others. 

Thanks goes out to Osprey Publishing for this review sample.

Reviewed by Danny Egan


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