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Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
Unfortunately, many of the really interesting parts are NOT translated or well described. Most bizarre and interesting was a section on pages 16 and 17 which described a concept for a centrifugal machine gun armed BT tank. The tank was provided with a powerful electric motor which drove a flywheel at high speed. A hopper was then to feed 13.5mm steel balls into the flywheel which would zing them out the front of the mantelet at speeds of 360 meters per second. The volume of fire was expected to be between 4,000 and 6,000 rounds per minute. But, range was estimated to not be more than 1,000 meters, the balls could not penetrate armored or hardened targets, the generator and flywheel increased the weight of the tank by 1,200 kilograms, and the engine was not reliable enough (life expectancy before overhaul was less than 100 hours) to provide the power needed to run the generator and motor and make the thing work.
Also covered were tanks with 132mm rockets (predating the Coldstream Guards Shermans!) mounted on the side of the turret and aimed from within the tank, and the fantastic "Tank Torpedo" essentially a 250 kilogram rocket propelled bomb of the "Flying Dustbin" type to be used to eliminate obstacles and troop concentrations.
Other projects covered include the 8 x 6 driven BT-5-IS model with its long and heavy driveshafts, various amphibious versions of the BT-5, and a flail version of the BT-5. Anyone familiar with the 79th Armoured Division will find many of the tank prototypes shown in this book somewhat familiar, and the Russians are noting they did it first! (All of the photos are dated from the archives as being in the mid 1930s.)
Even if you can't read Russian and at least the Linden Hill company is trying to get translated versions of the books produced this volume is a treasure trove of new photos of the BT-5 in Soviet service, and a very worthwhile investment.
Thanks to Peter Brown for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell AMPS
Review Copyright © 1999 by Cookie