For any military or history fan, Osprey publishing must be a well known name. The list of books published by this company is perhaps the longest among its peers and many of them have found home on my bookshelves. One of me most favourite books is Osprey’s Battleground – The Greatest Tank Duels in History.
This book builds on the series of Osprey books that pitch against each other famous tank opponents from history of warfare. Osprey has released few titles in this series, but Battleground is not jut one of them. Previous books were each covering single episode fomr history – e.g. Tiger vs. Sherman Firefly or Centurion vs. T-55. Battleground is effectively compilation of 5 of these books:
- Tiger vs. Sherman Firefly
- Panther vs. T-34/76
- M26 Pershing vs. T-34/85 – Korean War
- Centurion vs. T-55 – Yom Kippur War
- M1A1 Abrams vs. T-72 – Gulf War
One particular aspect, which makes this book unique in my opinion is that it crosses the boundary between the genres – most of the military history books are not really good at covering technical aspects of the tank warfare and in many cases ignore it completely. Many of the books dedicated to the tank enthusiast omit proper examination of the historical context of the use (or misuse) of the particular tank.
I like Osprey’s Battleground it attempts to comprehensively cover variety of aspects of the tank conflicts – tank development, technical features – weapons, armour protection, weapon systems, but also tank crew training and proficiency and tank tactics and doctrines used in the conflicts.
The first two parts dealing with the popular subjects of WWII – German vs. Allied tanks might not be as exhaustive as you may find in other books, but I still find the read interesting and relatively concise. However the parts that I liked the most are the ones dealing with the modern conflicts – Korean War, because this conflict is significantly neglected in literature and not a lot of good books are available on this period of history and First Gulf War, because it is relatively recent conflict and I found that this was the first concise material I read about it, which as already mentioned covered multiple aspects of the modern armored warfare. (I am a big fan of the Mid-East wars and the only reason I am not listing Yom Kippur War here is that there are few books available covering this conflict in-depth).
he book contains number of photographs illustrating the machines as well as the respective conflicts and these blend very well with the text. Colour plates for the tanks covered are included as well as photographs and illustrations of the turret interiors giving better understanding of the ergonomics of various machines. Not missing are maps and various technical and statistical data for all the vehicles.
One aspect that might appeal to the potential buyers is the price of the book – Battleground can be purchased for $30 in Toronto bookstores – given that the book is effectively a compilation of 5 books each of which costs around $20, you are getting 70% discount.
But even without the price aspect, this book is one of those I can recommend for any tank enthusiast or modeller looking for interesting and easy read covering multiple vehicles and historical periods. I find myself reaching for the book quite often, when I have a quite moment and don’t feel like getting lost in of the 800-page history books…
You can find more information on this book on the website of Osprey publishing here.