Battle Ground - The Greatest Tank Duels in History

Published: September 1st, 2011     
Cover
Cover
Author: Stephen Zalgoa, editor
Reviewed by: Marc K. Blackburn - IPMS# 42892
ISBN #: 978-1-84908-551-9
Other Publication Information: 368 pages, black and white photographs and color illustrations
Price: $25.95
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

One of the newer series of Osprey Publishing is the "Duel" series. As the name suggests, it provides an in-depth look at two pieces of equipment and compares and contrasts their capabilities in the context of a particular battle. To date, there are forty separate titles. Many of these concentrate on armor. Osprey has packaged five of these titles into one book:

  • T-34 vs Panther: Ukraine 1943
  • Tiger vs Firefly: Normandy 1944
  • M26 Pershing vs T-34-85: Korea 1950
  • Centurion vs T-55: Golan Heights 1973
  • M1 Abrams vs T-73: Desert Storm 1991

Each title reviews the developmental history, capabilities, technical details, crew, and a particular campaign that they participated in. Each volume is illustrated with black and white/color photographs and color illustrations that are typical of many Osprey series. In repackaging the original volumes for this combined volume, there are some changes. First, it appears that while the text has remained the same, the number of photographs has decreased and the chronology has been eliminated. There are four authors (the editor, Steve Zalgoa. wrote two of the five titles) and there are differences in style, but each book follows the same conventions. This is certainly a more cost-effective way of purchasing more than one title. I won't go into the details of each essay, but suffice to say, each one of these chapters provides enough information and illustrations to offer some historical and technical context for each set of vehicles.

While the information presented may not be new to historians or armor buffs, Osprey has found a way to repurpose its existing material into larger, stand-alone books such as Battle Ground, but it would have been nice to have a longer concluding chapter to tie these disparate time periods and vehicles together. One personal observation: much like the knights of old, I continue to expect the text to focus not only on the development of the entire series of vehicles but also focus on combat performance through the experience of one vehicle, rather than at the company or battalion level. You see that to a point in the Tiger Tank and in the T-34, but not so much in the others. I cannot help but think that Osprey chose "Duel" as a marketing strategy more than anything else. I think it's time for Osprey to refocus their attention on a title and content that's more appropriate for the publishing world besides "Duel."

My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this publication.

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