I suspect that most modellers have at some point examined or purchased a title from Tankograd Publishing and so are aware of the general quality of their soft backed titles. Well every once in a while Tankograd Publishing release hard backed books covering a range of subjects, on this occasion it is the early T-34 tank that is the focus of their attention.
There are any number of books covering the T-34 and I have had the chance to look at a fair number of them. Most of the titles are very good in terms of what they have been able to cover within a set number of pages, but they have usually looked at the T-34 as a whole family rather than a specific family member. Tankograd publishing has released this offering authored by Christian Mulsow with photographs from Jochen Vollert's Archives and has opted to concentrate on the T-34 model 1940 and so goes into quite a lot of depth on a tank family that I feel can be considered to have had a very big part in saving Russia from Germany during World War 2.
The hard cover on this title is substantial and should prevent damage in most cases to the contents. The paper in this offering is of a high quality and displays both text and photographs very well. The construction of the book is of a high quality in all respects, I was pleased to see the pages attached to cloth inner spine which is one of the best methods I know of to prevent pages coming free.
The contents of this title are published on 216 pages that are A4 in size and these break down as follows:
The Pig's Snout: T-34 - The First Model with L-11 gun development and production from 1939 - 41
History of the Soviet Tank Troops
Predecessor of the T-34
Launch of mass production
First Rationalisation Measures
Improvement of Combat Characteristics
Trouble with the Main Armament - F-32, L-11 or F-34?
Pre-Series and First Series Vehicles until September 1940
Early-Series Vehicles September 1940
Early-Series Vehicles September-November 1940
Series Vehicles November-December 1940
Series Vehicles January-February 1941
Series Vehicles March-April 1941
Deployment and Combat
Shipping and Allocation until 22 June 1941
Calm before the Storm - The Situation prior to 22 June 1941
Operation Barbarossa - The T-34 Debuts in Combat
Exemplary Encounters with the Wehrmacht - Magerov
Exemplary Encounters with the Wehrmacht - Nemirov
Exemplary Encounters with the Wehrmacht - Tolochin
The German Perspective
The Wehrmacht Encounters The T-34
The T-34 Captured for Evaluation
The T-34 in Kummersdorf
Panzerkampfwagen T 34 - 747(r) in German Service
T-34 - A Russo-German Assessment
Colours and Markings
The Text in this offering is in English only and is very well written and so making for an easy read that provides information in a way that is easily absorbed. The photographs have something that Tankograd Publications do very well, excellent captions that are clear and precise in the information they provide to the reader. Nothing I have seen between the covers leads me to think that this book is light on content or obviously wrong and so very pleasing.
The first section of this title could also be titled 'The lead up to the T-34' as it provides a great deal of information on the steps in vehicle production that eventually lead to the T-34. I was very pleased to see scale drawings included in this area that not on covered the exterior but also armour thicknesses and angles of plates: something that will of great use to the modellers here who look to get their models as near to perfect as possible. The cut away diagrams in the book cover most areas of the vehicle as far as I am concerned when it comes to the very early T-34. I even got to see what I thought was an escape hatch is actually for changing the main gun on the very early T-34 when different guns were being tested and this section also explains why some parts are where they are and the size they are.
The second section of this title is an absolute visual gem when it comes to early T-34 production. The photographs are largely of destroyed vehicles which is a shame, but the Germans had by far the best cameras of the period and so they provide the best quality images. Also by using photographs of destroyed and damaged vehicles you get to see parts that would normally be hidden. The author has done a very good job of identifying visual points that will enable readers to identify these early vehicles and batch production with a reasonably high degree of accuracy. The author has again provided excellent scale drawings of the various early production batches from the usual angles that enable additional quick reference by the reader for identification of early T-34's. This is an excellent section of the title.
The third and fourth sections of this offering I tend to view as a single area due to the sections basically covering the shock and awe effect that the Soviet heavy tanks generally and the T-34 specifically had on German tank crews. the German armour was out matched in all regards and had to rely on anti-tank artillery pieces to take the tanks on at very close ranges until the 88mm came to the fore; the German also relied on brave individuals to lay charges on or in front of before running like hell to get away. I do not care what nationality a person is if willing to do that they are very brave or completely mad. This section again has excellent photographic content that is a real bonus for the modeller.
A beautiful section comes next for the modeller who is accuracy driven or the person who is specifically interested in the early T-34 tanks from a pure interest aspect. This section does exactly what it says on the tin; it looks at the hull and the turret and clearly identifies the points of the vehicle that would normally be overlooked or just not understood as an item that identifies a specific vehicle batch. This really does pick out those small details that make all of the difference when identifying a model as X, Y or Z.
The last section of the book covers some nice colour profiles for these early T-34 tanks including a nice three colour scheme. Also provided here are schematics of the five main turret types on one page. We are also provided with schematics of the various mudguard termination details, this is quite a nice inclusion due to most images showing this areas with the part missing or severely damaged.
This offering from Tankograd Publishing and authored by Christian Mulsow is a real gem for both the modeller and the person interested in the vehicle generally. I really enjoyed this offering and will add it to the other hard backed offerings released by Tankograd as a great reference for many years to come. I looked very hard for any weaknesses present and could not find any, unless that is you consider a print run of 999 copies a weakness due to limited availability. I very strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of this title as soon as you can as it is a must have for those with an interest. I just hope they take this further and cover other versions in the same manner.
Darren Baker takes a look at one of the rare hardbacked books released by Tankograd Publishing; This offerings looks at 'The First T-34 Birth of a Legend: T-34 Model 1940'.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...