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Book Review: Forgotten Tanks & Guns. David Lister.

Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by von Poop, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Forgotten Tanks & Guns of the 1920s, 1930s, & 1940s.
    Author: David Lister
    ISBN: 1526714531
    P&S

    index.jpg

    I only noticed a week-ish ago that this had been released, so thinking 'somebody seems to have written a book personally for me', I asked the always pleasant Rosie at P&S for a copy to review.
    Arrived this afternoon, and it being so up my street, I've read it in a couple of hours, (it's far from a brick of a thing).

    At about 120 A5 pages, it is in fact a slender volume, but nicely produced, and still full of good stuff, if you like that sort of thing.
    My direct interest in the topic may have caused me some objectivity issues as I'm so pleased somebody wrote this at all, but I hope I've read enough on roughly the areas covered that I can have a reasonable opinion as well as declaring an innate 'well done, that man' bias.

    I suppose the first test of such a book is whether it has enough oddballs & abandoned projects to justify diving in; my answer is a pretty emphatic yes.
    Ferret Land Torpedo, anyone? More detail on the Goliath/MLM project? Obscure Japanese heavies? Galliot brakes & 'recoilless' tank guns? British remote control gear? One-shot quadruple six pounder barrels on Universal carriers? Carden-Baynes wing-carried light tanks?! - If you're as dull as me & find such things fascinating, then you might as well just go out and buy it. Whether you think it's good or bad, I suspect there'll be more than one new thing in there for you, & lets face it; it isn't every day such stuff goes into an actual book.

    There might be complaints of a lack of real detail or cohesion to some of the subjects covered, but it's all still a bit wild west in the world of obscure land vehicles compared to flying things, so in many cases the book provides more of a basis for enquiry & keeping an eye out for further news.
    If I'm completely honest, it reads a bit more like a very good website article for the first two thirds (think he writes for War Thunder, WoT sort of pages too. Not sure), full of nice anecdote-age with almost everything reasonably well-illustrated given how hard it must be to find pictures of these fleeting designs. (The Japanese bits have very pleasing line illustrations with human figures for scale. I'd hoped there would be more of these throughout, but sadly not. Presumably included to make up for the almost non-existent photos of Japanese gear),
    The tone changes for the final chapters that run from Martel to other abandoned British tanks, A7, A8 etc.. Almost a different publication & far more detailed & genuinely informative than the rest of the book, perhaps revealing the true authorial obsession, though also maybe lacking a little the full obscurity of the first part for those of us more familiar with the tortuous world of British interwar developments, Still full of nuggets that would interest any regular reader of @Vintage Wargaming's fine Interwar Tank Development pages, but drier, more 'serious' than the first part.
    There is possibly a problem there in that those of us who spend too much time looking at obscure vehicles may not be quite so surprised at some content as the general reader, but I'm reasonably sure there's enough to keep even the dedicated interested

    It's possibly hard to judge Mr Lister's style in such a short book, but I'm going to say very lucid, avoiding floridity, & with (whisper it) perhaps a hint of David Fletcher to the factual-but-light tone. (Hardly surprising as I'd lay money he has a similar cultish view to myself of that man's output. Maybe if given a chance he could be the person to pick up the torch in future more in-depth surveys of Fletcher's pet areas.) Excessive dryness avoided - style is important, even in this sort of book.

    One quite serious criticism: No bloody index. Again.
    I know it's a large bee in my own bonnet, and it's not a massive book, but it's also reference. Just the sort of thing I know I'll be haring through the whole of to find something when someone raises a point about massive muzzle brakes etc.
    A bibliography would have been nice, and the source list is a bit sketchy, but I can live with that. Indexes however; the absence gets a firm harumph.

    So in summary after that ramble:
    Yeah, very welcome.
    Maybe an opening salvo rather than a be-all & end-all barrage, and the 'guns' in the title isn't really much of the whole, but it's on something that deserves more exposure & will hopefully help with opening further cracks into armoured obscurity knowledge.
    Here's (also) hoping Mr Lister gets the chance to expand on it in future publications, & it's going on the shelf next to Fleischer's 'The Wehrmacht Weapons Testing Ground at Kummersdorf', Shorts 'Tank Turret Fortifications' & Fletcher's books. Filed under 'Nerdy, but make me happy'.


    image004.jpg

    With the traditional thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.

    Cheers,
    ~A

    (Initially posted on WW2Talk, but hey, we all like books...)
     
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  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    No reviews here:
    https://smile.amazon.com/Forgotten-...482200&sr=1-1&keywords=Forgotten+Tanks+&+Guns
    yet. Yours could be a first if you want to copy and paste.
    Amazon US doesn't provide much competition for Pen & Sword I wouldn't imagine. You could post their web page here if they have one. Some might find it worth while and supporting such sites is a good thing IMO along with supporting authors who write books such as the above.

    Thanks for the review.
     
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  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Maybe we need a thread that has the web pages or just the addresses of various book and gaming stores. Or one for each. The small ones especially are struggling and anything we can do will help keep them around a bit longer.
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I may do that.
    It's got a couple on UK Amazon.

    The author's popped up on 2T, in case anybody fancies reading his notes.
    (Also confirmed he's getting along with a rumoured 'project cancelled' book on British tanks some of us have salivated wondered about, which is good news indeed.)
     
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  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Many thanks for the review, Adam - I may give this one a go ( at least, until the next 'Tiger' book comes along....;) )
     
  6. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Is it all prototypes and oddities or does it also cover things which actually saw service, such as these obscure favorites of mine:
    1. Alecto SPG (yes, a few were used in squadron service postwar)
    2. The 95mm infantry gun (yes, some hundreds were made and it was listed as a standard weapon)
    3. Vickers commercial field guns of the interwar period (65mm, 75mm, 105mm, used in the Chaco War)
    4. Marmon-Herrington light tanks (small numbers used in WWII by Dutch, US, & Australians)
    5. Bofors 37mm anti-tank gun (British, Egyptians, Finns, Poles, etc.)
    6. ZH-29 semiautomatic rifle (a few used by Chinese, Japs, Ethiopians)
     
  7. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Dear Herr Poop, it would appear from your delectable writing style and unsated curiosity that the author of an expanded version of this ironically light tome should be nonother that yourself! Plus an index, of course.

    With true and genuine intentions,
    G. Thomas Blackwell
     
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    It is quite slender, mate, very much on projects with only the more detailed later part looking at stuff in service, but what it does do is shine a bit of light onto earlier developments of some of these delightful oddballs. Almost like the bits that are sometimes missed out from many books & sites which actually fed the later slightly better known things. Some thought processes that seem to have had more investigation in the period than I'd ever really imagined, despite following interwar work as closely as I can.
    It's not really about Guns (Mr Lister told us on 2T that the publisher pushed the title on him). Few bits & pieces, but not much, though interesting on smoke rounds & quite fascinating on the massive Galliot muzzle brakes (though definitely challenged by the sheer sparcity of archive info there.).
    The closest he'd get to your list is on early air portable work (Though again, only a few pages). Some mention of the Harry Hopkins (future Alecto) being considered for wing-borne delivery (as the only really light machine to hand) & needing to land with tracks running at 65mph to succeed...
    Had never heard of the Carden-baynes tank. Intended to fly beneath it's own detachable wing, but it certainly fits into the whole area of M22/Marmon/Hopkins sort of stuff. No picture of it on the Internerd or in any shiny book that I can find, & he's managed one.
    Have you got Gander's book on the Bofors? Not half bad, some interesting vehicle-borne stuff, and often a decent price.

    Gaines, overly kind, but I'll leave it to Mr Lister.
    He implied he's getting into his stride, and explains the slight thinness of some bits of the book as part of his authorial learning curve, but if the bits where he does go deeper are anything to judge, & his next book is working along the more substantial lines suggested, he's going to become well worth watching on a really very dimly lit area.
     
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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If you are corresponding with him you might mention that a good number of us would be thrilled if he'd join one or both forums. Even if he just updates the status of his projects occasionally.
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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