on 31 October 2014
This is a terrific book. It's a heavy thick book, very well illustrated and printed to a high standard. It contains a well written account of the early development of this tank, including the doctrine around "infantry" tanks, and some of the prototypes and predecessors. Often this kind of account of committee decision-making and Sir Monty Farquarr said this, and Lord Bufton said that can be very dry, but Mr Fletcher brings is all to life in a very entertaining way. Then on the tank proper it describes all the many and various models, their armaments, details of construction and combat experience. There are pictures on every page, whether photographs (all high quality), engineering drawings or whatever.
Although I'm not remotely qualified to comment on the scholarship that's gone into this, it certainly appears to be very well researched and credible. One small example - there's a photograph illustrating some trial or other, but he's careful enough to caption it as "not necessarily the incident referred to in the text", although it's definitely showing something very similar. This is the stamp of someone taking great care over his work.
Sadly he doesn't cover the fascinating special purpose variants much beyond a mere mention: flame thrower (Crocodile), nor the demolition mortar AVRE models etc, but in fairness the book's already a good inch thick with no wasted space, so this is hardly cause for realistic complaint - maybe we can hope for a follow up volume? I for one would order it like a shot.
Areas which could have been even better, would have been to included tables summarising production numbers and technical details for each mark. Although it is covered in the narrative, summaries are helpful, and indeed usual for this sort of book, possibly in an Appendix. Also, I'd have valued more analysis on whether the thing was actually any good or not. Whilst Mr Franklin has certainly done his work in digging out details of, say gunnery trials against it, or breakdown stats and the like, and doesn't hold back on its faults, I'd have hugely valued his expert opinion on whether this was on a par with its rivals, or with the Sherman for that matter. A "conclusions" chapter would also have been good - and probably wouldn't have taken him long to write - after all he'd done all the hard work already !
For all that, a terrific well written, superbly illustrated book, well worth the £30 cover price.
on 2 February 2016
Everything you wanted to know about this iconic tank, which started off as an unpromising design with a bus engine but morphed in to a well armoured (if slow) assault tank with a variety of guns and demolition mortars. The glamorous armoured divisions had the Cromwells and Shermans for the fast breakthrough or flanking movement, but it was the the independent tank brigades with the Churchill who broke through in the first place. Highly recommended