For those of us who are (a) interested in military technology and (b) know little of this period, this is a good introductory book. True, some – more familiar with the subject matter – might think it is rather light on background information, but as I said, neophytes such as I will find it provides more than enough to put these vehicles into some sort of context.
The book describes 8 tanks; 6 IFV’s; 8 APC’s; 12 anti-tank vehicles; 3 Recce vehicles; 13 SP AA mounts; 7 SPG’s, howitzers and mortars; 8 multiple rocket launchers; and 8 tactical ballistic missiles. I have no idea whether this is actually exhaustive (or nearly so) or merely representative, but it does paint quite an image of the wide range available in the Soviet post-WWII vehicle park.
My only disappointments with this book are purely technical:
1) Pages 5 and 6 include a short but very instructive discussion on the value of sloped armour, along with a table indicating the relative increase in armour effectiveness at various angles of deflection. Vehicle entries have brief specifications summaries which include, among other interesting information, such details as this (taken from the entry for the IS-8/T-10):
Hull front upper: 120mm @ 60°
Hull front lower: 100mm @ 55°
Hull side: 90mm @ 60°
Hull rear upper: 60mm @ 30°
Hull rear lower: 30mm @ 50°
I would have appreciated it had the author taken a few moments to calculate and provide us with the corresponding increases in armour effectiveness.
2) The book is printer-friendly, in the sense that there are no cumbersome, ink-consuming background images and that the font is large enough to be easily legible, yet small enough to fit a lot of text in a single page. But the “one entry = two pages” approach means that there is a lot of blank space that could have been eliminated through a different formatting.
3) I tend to like to have more rather than less technical information, and I would have liked to see the author include such details as cross-country speed and autonomy, ground pressure (rather important considering the terrain conditions in parts of the former Soviet Union), main-gun depression and elevation (this oversight is strange, as the author made a very valid point regarding Soviet inability to fire back at Afghan insurgents attacking from above), and so on.
4) Finally, while I understand that some will find it useful to have the specs of each vehicle or weapons system placed directly in the corresponding entry, I would have appreciated a table that provided this information for all vehicles and systems, for ease of comparison; at the very least, a table for all those included in each section (all IFV’s, for example, at the end of the corresponding chapter).
Still, all of these are but details. At this price (under four US dollars), you certainly will have a hard time finding a better buy, or (more importantly) a better introduction to the subject matter. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book by this author.