Home > Reviews > Other > Exportni Tankciky Praga, Praga Export Tankettes


Exportni Tankciky Praga, Praga Export Tankettes

by Vladimir Francev

published by Publications MBI, ISBN 80-86524-08-6, 80 pages.

There’s plenty here to interest armour modellers, and the text is fully bilingual in English as well as Czech. Many will be aware that the Praga concern exported tankettes from 1936 onwards to Iran, Rumania and Sweden but it may be news that Ethiopia also bought them in 1950. It may also be news that none of these were what we normally think of as tankettes, armed only with limited traverse machine guns in the hull front. In fact all these export models were true light tanks, with machine guns in 360 degree-traverse turrets. They were all variations on a basic design, and although I know of no 1/35 scale kits yet there are already kits in 1/87 and 1/72 scales of the Rumanian version that fought on the Russian Front. Yes, I wrote “fought”, you shouldn’t imagine that these little tanks saw no active service just because Sweden and Iran were neutral in World War 2.

The first design was the AH-IV for Iran, with a heavy machine gun in its turret and a light one in the hull. The hull gun was traversable but since the driver couldn’t actually use its sights to aim it was normally fixed in place and aimed by simply pointing the tank at a target. Deliveries to Iran were in August 1936 and they remained in service at least until the mid-1950s. Next came the slightly modified AH-V-R, or R-1, for Rumania with 35 delivered in 1938. Licenced production in Rumania was planned but only one prototype actually emerged because the Rumanian builder went bankrupt. It was nationalised in 1941 but did not proceed with these light tanks.

Sweden was a major customer, ordering 46 improved AH-IV-Sv in 1937 and two more later. These were built in Sweden under licence, with many parts supplied by Praga from the then Czechoslovakia and others, such as the armour and engines, sourced locally. These tanks were armed with two Browning machine guns in the turret but omitted the hull gun. Finally there was the Ethiopian order, with 20 AH-IV-Hb’s delivered in 1950.

Each version is very fully covered here, with a chapter on its design history and contract negotiations followed by one on its production and another on service use. The Rumanian tanks’ combat history is fascinating! In addition there are chapters on the camouflage and markings applied and a full technical chapter as well.

I hardly need say that there are a host of large, clear photographs of interiors and exteriors, plus many of the tanks on test and in service. Add to these 1/35 scale five-view plans of each type, plus isometric drawings pointing out their differences, and internal layout drawings with keys to the equipment. Then add good colour plates showing camouflage and markings for no fewer than nine examples, and a colour photograph section with closeups of the interior and exterior of one of the eight preserved Swedish tanks – and for good measure a 1/20 scale set of plans showing the different turrets and roadwheels used as well as hull details. This is one of the best single-tank references I have ever seen!

Very highly recommended. My thanks to Czech-Six Publications for the review copy. The book can be bought from them at £11.70 plus £0.60 p&p in the UK, and they ship outside the UK as well – their website is at www.czechsixpublications.com with contact details to enquire for postage outside the UK, and they take Paypal.

John Prigent