Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Tiger Tank Manual: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger 1 Ausf.E (SdKfz 181) Model (Owner's Workshop Manual)" by David Fletcher, David Wiley and Mike Hayden

"Tiger Tank Manual: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger 1 Ausf.E (SdKfz 181) Model (Owner's Workshop Manual)" by David Fletcher, David Wiley and Mike Hayden and published by Zenith Press.  The Tank Museum in South Dorset in the United Kingdom (UK) was in a unique position to write a new chapter in the Tank story with its own discoveries on restoring and running Tiger 131, which is the centerpiece of the manual.

"Tiger Tank Manual" is unique as we follow the story of Tiger 131 from April 1943 in Tunisia in North Africa to its arrival in the UK in October 1943 to its renovation and refurbishing thanks to the national Lottery. It is a short work of only 164 pages. "Tiger Tank Manual" gives an amazing insight and inside look into purchasing, owning, and even operating one of the world’s most outstanding engineering feats and fighting vehicles.

The use of personal remembrances of what it was like to operate and command such a vehicle in wartime gives you a "you were there" feeling. The recollections of what it was like to be on the receiving end of the Tiger's 88 mmm gun shared by Lieutenant Gundgin in the Foreword really helps set the book's tone.

The pictures, illustrations, line drawings, statics are amazing. The "Tiger Tank Manual" gives the necessary background on the history and development of the tank. You get the story of Tiger 131 down including forensic and crime scene analysis of the battlefield damage to the tank to include the ammunition used against the tank!

You are given a specular cutaway drawing of the tank from the School of Tank Technology. Note: I am a former US Army Ordnance Corps officer whose military occupational specialty was maintenance. I supported the old US Army M60A2 tank. The detail in "Tiger Tank Manual" rivals any Technical Manual. I cannot over emphasize the quality and variety of the pictures. They left me with the felling I had crawled all over the vehicle as well as I examined every detail inside the tank. They are amazing.

You get a glimpse into the mind of the museum as to why they restored Tiger 131. Again, detail pictures as well as description guides you through the process. Such details as paint selection and viewpoints from volunteers working on the project make you feel part of the project.

The "Tiger tank Manual" includes a chapter on running the tank. The detail given to the start-up procedures and riving the tank makes me want to get in the driver's seat and take it for a test drive.

The detail given to "The May back Engine" may appear to be overkill to some, but the tank enthusiast or automotive engineer will enjoy the examination of the engine and its auxiliaries. Everything from ventilation to the gearbox and transmission as well as the steering and drive shafts (final drive) is covered.

Having supported annual tank gunnery for several years had my curiosity peak in the chapter devoted to firepower. Excellent coverage is given to tank gunnery from the ammunition down to aiming and firing the gun.

The explanation of the deployment and tactics of the Tiger lets you have an understanding of the German's strategy. The book concludes with a nice appendix of the surviving Tigers.

While the book may not be for everyone, any military enthusiast will enjoy the book. Any tanker or former tank crewmember will enjoy the book. I believe it would be a worthwhile addition to any military history library as well as any collection dealing with World War II. Additionally, automotive engineers will find the book simply amazing.

Read and reviewed by: Jimmie A. Kepler February 29, 2012. Note: Jimmie is honorably discharged as a Captain in the ordnance Corps US Army where he served as a maintenance office and supported a tank battalion (2nd Bn 77th Armor 2nd Brigade 9th Infantry Division) in 1978.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Viper Force: 56th Fighter Wing - To Fly and Fight the F-16 by John M. Dibbs with text by Lt.Col. Robert "Cricket" Renner, USAF (Retired)

"Viper Force: 56th Fighter Wing - To Fly and Fight the F-16" by John M. Dibbs with text by Lt.Col. Robert "Cricket" Renner, USAF (Retired) and published by Zenith Press is a work of art. John Dibbs photography is gallery quality photography. The book blends world-class photography with a great narrative. Lt.Col. Renner is a talented writer.

The training of the pilots occurs at Luke Air Force base, Arizona. I lived at Luke AFB for six years growing up in a United States Air Force family. It was like a visit to an old friend for me.  Lt.Col. Robert "Cricket" Renner, USAF (Retired) gives in-depth details and insights into the training for flying the “Viper” as well as the explanations of the F-16 and its abilities. The stories of many former and current viper pilots give the pilot’s point of view in a powerful way.

The narrative of Lt.Col. Renner has John Dibbs photographs support and assisting in telling the story. It makes a spectacular book.  The book would be a welcome addition to any aviation buffs library as well as the military historian’s collection. Community libraries would also benefit from the book as it tells the tale of the F-16.