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Armada books # 7, 9 & 14

Cookie Sewell

Book Review: M-Khobbi "Armada" Series books from Russia:

Volume 7, "Vezdokhody RKKA" (All-Terrain Vehicles of the RKKA) by Evgeniy Prochko; 64 pages, photos and plans

Volume 9, "Tanki BT Chast' 1" (BT Tanks Part 1) by Igor' Zheltov, Ivan Pavlov, and Mikhail Pavlov; 48 pages, includes color profiles inside covers

Volume 14, "Tanki Grazhdanskoy Voyny" (Tanks of the Civil War) by M. Kolomiyets, I. Moshchanskiy, and S. Romadin; 56 pages, includes color profiles inside covers

Prices (US) between $11 and $16 each; (UK) L10

Advantages: Bright, new coverage of subjects with little coverage outside of the former USSR

Disadvantage: Text is 95% Russian language (see text)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: For All Armor Fans

I am firmly convinced the best thing about the collapse of the USSR is the amount and clarity of items which have been released to the public (first in Russia, and then via Russian authors to the world) on the history of their military production. The "Armada" series books by M-Khobbi are rapidly beginning to rival the three best known publishers of similar books  in the west – Squadron/Signal, Schiffer, and Concord – in quality and content.

These three books cover three topics of interest to armor modelers  which have received little or no coverage in the past. They are all excellent, with clear photos and very useful color plates in the later two books (9 and 14) which will be well appreciated.    Number 7 looks at the development of light four-wheel drive vehicles in the Soviet Army. Prior to WWII the only all-wheel drive vehicle in the  Soviet inventory was the GAZ-M1, essentially a passenger car with four-wheel drive. When the Soviet designers saw the Bantam prototype light vehicle  (which was the progenitor of the Willys MB) in a magazine, they began to develop an "Army only" field car using GAZ-M1 components. The result was the unsuccessful GAZ-64, but it was used to develop the GAZ-67 and the BA-64  armored car. The book only concentrates on these vehicles, but does make mention of Soviet use of the MB and the White M3A1 "Skaut" as the Russians  referred to it.

Number 9 is Part One of what will be a three part series on the "bystriy" or fast tanks of the 1930s. This volume covers the acquisition of the US designed Christie Model 1932 (which the book notes was sold to the Soviets as a "Model 1940", as Christie thought it ten years ahead of its time) and provides many photos of "Orignal-1" in testing. It also covers the development of the BT-2 and its variants, plus the combat history of the vehicle in action. Color side views of several tanks are included, including  a spectacular blue and white one in the defense of Moscow, 1941.

Number 14 covers a chapter in Soviet history little known or understood in most of the west, namely, the use of capture armored vehicles in the Russian Civil war of 1917-1921. The book covers mostly the British tanks which were used, namely the Mark V or "Ricardo" tanks, the Mark A or "Uippet", and the French FT, or "Reno". A number of photos of each type are  given, as well as markings, serial numbers, and comments. It also covers more information on the copies made by the Russians during the 1920s of the  Renault FT, called the "Russkoye Reno", and the names given the handful of copies made before the Soviets decided to switch to the T-18 tank design. It  also covers the actions, organizations, and who actually used the tanks (both "White" and "Red" forces), as well as postwar. Some of the tanks were  retained in service as late as 1938!

Although all illustrations have English translations for their photo captions and a short summary on the inner title page, it is a shame that most of the text and tables are in Russian. Readers should note that a British firm is working on negotiations with M-Khobbi to translate the books into English, and will have the rights for exclusive English language versions to  arrive on the market within the next year. Still, they are highly useful as is, and are recommended for all armor fans.

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