45,000 troops with 800 main battle tanks, 6,500 other tracked vehicles, 12,000 wheeled vehicles and 1,200 aircraft. Today these figures seem to come from another age, yet they define the field training exercise Operation Big Lift 63, the biggest airlift operation ever done on a possible central European battlefield. The air bridge exercise was conducted by US forces with the aim of reassuring NATO allies that in the case of renewed political tension between the East and West, leading to a standoff and possible military conflict, they would be capable of deploying forces from the USA across the Atlantic to Europe at short notice. Operation Big Lift 63 trained deploying the reinforced 2nd (US) Armored Division from Fort Hood, Texas, to West Germany by means of a strategic airlift. The core mission of the division was then to conduct a counterattack, which was also supported by the use of nuclear weapons.
This publication shows the vehicles of Operation Big Lift of 1963 in fantastic depth and comprehensively tells the story of one of the largest and most interesting NATO exercises ever held in Central Europe.
This recent book release from Tankograd Publishing looking at the Big Lift 63 exercise, is a soft backed release of 64 pages, but you can add the cover to that count as well. The title is one of the duel language offerings from Tankograd Publishing, German on the left and English on the right side of each page. The paper quality is good being a semi gloss heavy paper with a decent card cover with gloss print.
The book as indicated by the introduction, tells the story of the 2nd Armoured Division being air lifted to Germany from Texas to conduct an exercise. The exercise itself caused some concerns in Europe as it was felt that it indicated that American Forces would be withdrawn and only sent back in times of crises, the book itself covers how everyone from the President down kept repeating that this was not the case. The Americans wanted to prove that it was possible to relocate large numbers of troops to Europe that were ready to fight any aggression from the then Eastern BLOC Countries, Exercise Big Lift 63did a good job of highlighting this ability.
The text in the book is very well written and there is more of it that I am use to seeing in these titles, but I am pleased to say that Tankograd Publishing has done a good job of getting the photographs in as well. I found the text included an interesting read and did a good job of providing the feel of the goals of this exercise and the reasons for it. I did not notice any obvious issues with the text, and the reading was easy going. While covering the text and before moving onto the photographs, I should take the time to point out that every photograph in the title has been provided with a well written and lengthy caption, these do an excellent job of explaining what is being shown to you.
The photographs included by Tankograd Publishing can only be considered excellent. These photographs offer a broad spectrum of the exercise from beginning to end. Views of the aircraft involved are minimal, but I suspect those reading this review are most interested in the armoured fighting vehicles and troops. The photographs in this title are predominantly black and white, but there are 8 colour photographs included, these have been very well selected by Tankograd Publishing as colour pictures from the period can be fuzzy. One photograph that really sums up the feel and look of this exercise is a picture from a high angle, it shows a staging area with vehicles and soldiers getting ready to move out, it has a distinct World War 2 feel about it and that includes the uniforms, only the vehicles give it away as being a later time period.
Those modellers who are interested in the post war armoured fighting vehicles, soft skinned vehicles and main battle tanks of the period, will find this title of great reference value. The early M48 tank and M113 APC are well covered in this title, as are the men that crewed these vehicles. The M60 main battle tank is also well covered, from what I am reading I believe this to be the first major deployment of the M60 in Europe having been issued in late 62.
This particular title from Tankograd Publishing is perhaps the best mix I have seen as regards the written word to photographs. I was able to follow the exercise from start to finish and the reasons behind it. The photographs really are first rate and they offer an excellent selection of vehicles and armour of the period as reference material. One of the best books I have read covering an exercise by military forces; very well done Tankograd Publishing.
Highs: This offers a great mix of photographs of high quality along with informative text.Lows: NoneVerdict: If you have an interest in US tanks and vehicles of the early 1960’s, I feel this will provide a very enjoyable read and act as great reference for the modeller.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...