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Russian Armoured Cars 1930-2000

Peter Brown

Russian Armored Cars 1930-2000 by James Kinnear Hardback, 336 pages. Published by Darlington Productions Inc, PO Box 5884, Darlington, Maryland, MD 21034, USA. ISBN 1-892848-05-8 US price $48.95.

Now that the original sources have become available Soviet and Russian AFVs are becoming far better known. Put simply, an accurate account of development has now emerged. Not only have some unusual prototypes have been brought to light , but others which were thought to have been widely built have turned out to be one-offs. Several Russian magazines and books have described individual vehicles, but this book covers all Soviet armoured car designs from the earliest all-Soviet vehicles to the present day and beyond in English which makes their story available to a wider readership.

Coverage is divided into four logical groups. After a brief account of armoured cars before 1930, the first chapter covers the lighter, mostly four-wheel cars from 1930 through to the end of the Second World War. Best known here are the pre-war BA-20 series and the wartime BA-64, and the sections on these include detailed close-up photos of surviving vehicles. These are only some of around a dozen four-wheel vehicles described from the very early D-8 which was basically a light car with protection and a machine gun to proper 4x4 designs.  A set of 1/35th plans of the BA-64B will be useful for those with one of the kits of this car. Next along, the various heavier six-wheel cars have their own section. This begins with the BA-27 and follows each of the various models which succeeded it. Best known are those which saw wartime service, the BA-6 which has a set of 1/35th plans and the later BA-10, but these were only part of a long series of often similar cars, some being made in large numbers and others existing only as prototypes or small series.

Rounding off development to the end of the Great Patriotic War  is a section on Specialised Cars. This includes some of the less well known but technically more interesting cars. Included here are some very unusual machines, such as wheeled amphibious vehicles, armoured half tracks, ambulances and the KSP-76 self-propelled gun. The post-war era covered in the final main section is mainly devoted to three main series of cars. The BTR-40 series was the first of the new post-war designs and was really a small personnel carrier. This was replaced by the original BRDM with its unusual 4x4+4x4 configuration with retractable auxiliary wheels and amhibious capability. More development led to the BRDM-2 series, another swimmer with the extra wheels but with a revised layout and a heavier armament in a turret. All these three basic cars existed in many forms, the BRDM series especially so as between them these cars have carried successive generations of anti tank and some anti aircraft
missiles and come in NBC reconnaissance form, each type of which is well covered. This section ends looking to the future by describing various new cars developed to replace the BRDM-2 in Russian service and for possible export use.

Each type of car is described in detail, with period black and white record, parade and in-service photos as well as close-ups existing cars where possible. Specification tables for each are included, and these are neatly summarised in the appendices for easy comparison by type. Very useful are two lists of vehicles on display in museums, firstly by location but also by vehicle type. Also included are lists of which countries used the post-war cars, a glossary of terms and a very detailed bibliography.
It is not easy to sum up such a comprehensive work. It shows as much as possible of all these many different armoured cars, and will be useful both to modellers and anyone who wants to study the designs. Photographic coverage alone will be very useful to help with models of those cars which are available in kit form. This is set to be the main reference book for Russian armoured cars, and can only be highly recommended.

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