T-34 Shock: The Soviet Legend in Pictures
Author: Francis Pulham & Will Kerrs
Hardcover, 496 pages with over 600 black and white photos and 28 color profiles
*NOTE- This review is based on a digital copy of the book, with the color profiles as a separate file, so I am unsure where their placement is in the actual physical copy.
There have been innumerable books written on the T-34 in it's various iterations. That being said, this book in particular is excellent in respect to being all inclusive in it's nature, making it a perfect single book to add to your library if looking for a one volume fits all. The content begins with an overview of the methodology used to describe different production batches as well as a history of Soviet tank production prior to WWII and leading up through various designs and all the challenges faced. Exterior and interior technical descriptions of a typical 1940 T-34 continues, followed later in the book by similar descriptions of the T-34/76 and T-34/85. The main section of the book follows, including a discussion of the production changes to the T-34, factory by factory, and in given time frames. We get a run down of the variants- including the SU-122, SU-85, and SU-100...as well as armored turrets on boats and trains and Beutepanzer T-34s. Interspersed throughout the book are four battle stories from various time periods- the Battle of Seseña during the Spanish Civil War- which influenced tank doctrine and development leading up to the T-34, one from the assault on Kalinin, another during the Battle of Ogledow, and one from Major General William F. Dean’s (United States Army) North Korean T-34 ‘tank hunting’ at the Battle of Taejon in Korea in 1950. These were easily the most fascinating aspects of the book. The book concludes with post-war era looks at subsequent replacements to the T-34 with the T-44 and T-54 and how other countries used T-34s in their own combat situations.
Quite a spread of information in the Table of Contents
The photographs in the book come from various sources. First, many were taken by Wehrmacht soldiers advancing into the Soviet Union during 1941 and 1942. Many of these were wrecked and abandoned tanks and not so much combat photos. The second major source were post-war photos from soldiers from the various countries who had T-34s in their arsenals. The third source are tourist photos of museum and memorials examples which may not, as pointed out by the authors, be so accurate. That being said, considering their age and the conditions in which many were taken, many of the photos are faded and not so crisp as one might come to expect-- but the fact that they are here and their vast historical significance makes this a completely acceptable condition. Fact is I have not seen all too many of these photos before despite my vast interest in Eastern Front history.
The content is thorough and in no way has been found wanting. With so many photos and the excellent color profiles done by Jaycee "Amazing Ace" Davis, it was difficult to choose which ones to present here-- I tried to include some of the more interesting photos, as well as a sample of the technical diagrams and charts representative of the books. I enjoyed the fact that the profiles didn't just include the usual slogan-infused For the Motherland sample of artwork and that there is a definite variety presented-- I really want to try my hand at that last one of the Mandela Way Stompie Garden tank.
As I mentioned before, for someone looking to expand their library of this venerable tank, or someone just starting out with an interest in armor- this is an excellent choice for you. The text is informative without getting bogged down in the minutiae and the authors have done an excellent job in presenting this tome of one of the most iconic Soviet tanks ever to pour out of the wartime factories. It proved to be an excellent summer read for this teacher on summer break.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders or anyone interested in the T-34.
Thanks goes out to Fonthill Media for this review sample.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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