03 July 2023
WILLIAM E. HIESTAND
It’s almost fitting that after Soviet armour was involved in the first tank battle at the dawn of WWII it was there at the end, for the 1945 campaign against Japanese land forces in Manchuria. By this point though the T-26 light tank and the BT-5 and BT-7 fast tanks had been superseded by the T-34 medium tank, backed up by heavy tanks and Lend-Lease Shermans. That said, there were still a fairly astonishing 1,272 T-26 tanks fighting in the campaign, second only to the 1,794 T-34s in the field. While the Japanese forces could deal with the old generation hardware, the tanks developed during WWII were virtually invulnerable.
So, this then is number 316 in the New Vanguard series from Osprey, which cover the Soviet armoured force organisation, the tanks and SPGs, the actual campaign and a battle analysis. There’s only 50 pages, but you get all the essential information here, and there’s still room for plenty of illustrations of the tanks, a strategic map, a nice piece of artwork and lots of photos of the tanks in action.
This was a huge campaign, featuring three Soviet battle groups, where the Trans-Baikal Front alone fielded 650,000 men, backed up by half of the 5,500 tanks and SPGs. It was fought across deserts and mountains, through fortified hills and forests and featuring amphibious operations on the flanks. While the American atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were clearly hugely influential in the Japanese decision to surrender, so was this campaign in which the million-man Kwantung Army was crushed in only a few weeks. If anything, this book deserves to be much bigger, but it’s an excellent introduction.
- Osprey Publishing
- ISBN: 978-1-4728-5372-1
- 50 pages * Softcover * £12.99
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