The initial formation, of BAOR (British Army of the Rhine), came from the 21st Army Group in august 1945. Initially envisaged as an occupation force, with the growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western 'Tripartite' of France, the U.K and the U.S.A. it's rôle evolved into that of a defensive force with the increasingly real threat of Soviet expansionism. Many structural changes have taken place since then but its essential doctrine remains little changed.
Tankograd's New Book British Special # 9003 :BAOR - Vehicles of the British Army of the Rhine 1945-1979
is written by Peter Blume and published by Tankograd Publishing
. The book is the usual format, consisting of a soft-cover publication with 64 pages. Text is bi-lingual (German/English) and, unlike other bilingual publications, this contains COMPLETE text in both languages. The book has a few pages of text, however, as far as the modeller is concerned, the real value is in the images. The book contains 123 photographs (7 in black and white) with full captioning for each image.
Although the subject of the book is the vehicles of BAOR, the author spends the first six pages dealing with the basic 'historical' context of the BAOR and an interesting summary of the evolution the force went through until the 1970s. The first ten pages deal with the immediate post-war period - the twenty years up until 1966. This was NOT any kind of random decision as 1966 saw a major defence re-structuring due to both withdrawal from former Empire countries to new commitments. The first section will excite much interest from modellers with some of the vehicle types presented - most notable are undoubtedly the half-track variants, some of the early Centurions and as a taster, two interesting images of Cromwell VIIs on exercise in the 1950s. Also in this section are a number of interesting images of heavy enginnering equipment such as the Scammel Explorer.
The second chapter goes from 1966 until 1975. This section is a veritable goldmine for the softskin enthusiast - Commers, Morris' Ford Thames and vehicles such as the Leyland Martian are all given good coverage. However, the AFVs also feature in good detail in this section - Early Marks of the Chieftain along with Centurion AVREs and vehicles such as the Ferret are all covered in some VERY-well chosen images.
The total re-organisation of the BAOR in 1976, serves as the starting point for the largest of the chapters. This introduces relatively new vehicles such as the FV432 and the M107 in British service along with later Marks of the Chieftain. Some very good studies are presented of Spartans, the ubiquitious Land Rover (in a more modern configuration) and some of the heavy trucks such as the AEC Militant and the Thorneycroft Antar.
No book of this type would be complete without a section dedicated to the R.A.C (Royal Armoured Corps). Eight pages of images are present looking at a variety of vehicles from the Saladin to the Chieftain but also including less documented vehicles such as the Saracen.
It would also be remiss to ignore the importance of the Infantry in the BAOR - a number of vehicles are featured in this section. The Humber 'Pig' is there along with the FV432 and (even more!) Saracens..
Only two pages of images are dedicated to the R.A. (Royal Artillery) - again some good decisions were made in the choice of photos.
Arguably, from a modeller's standpoint, some of the more interesting vehicles are those used by the Royal Engineers. Once again a good selection of images are present in this section albeit a little short.
The penultimate section of two pages, looks at the Army Air Corps - a subject which truly deserves it's own 'treatment' in a seperate book...
The final section 'Support Units' is exactly that - ambulances, fuel Bowsers and cargo vehicles. Once again, a little too short considering some of the fascinating vehicles which have seen service over the years...
It's a superb book covering an utterly fascinating area for the modeller Not only does the author do a great job covering an enormous area but the structure of the book is both logical and considered. However, there are negative aspects. Logically, the intention of the publisher and author was NOT to produce the 'definitive' book on the subject - in this format it would be patently ridiculous. The author has worked within the series' format and produced a very useful book indeed. There are however a couple of points. The 'early' period (1945 until the mid '60s) is particularly rich with the introduction of new vehicles alongside the retention in sevice of such vehicles as the M9 halftrack. The coverage of areas such as the R.A. could also be increased (again, in a specific book).With the track-record of Tankograd
, they have the ability (like few other publishers) to publish COMPLETELY original images - there is every reason to assume that for every image they published in this book, they had many more to choose from, meaning that there may well be more images available for future volumes. However, for the price, you'd be unlikely to find anything comparable. Nor, from a modeller's point of view, so many truly inspiring conversion or scratchbuild ideas. There are areas i'd like to see expanded in future books on this subject - softskins in particular and specific areas such as the Polish component of the BAOR. However, that may well be on the cards for future books. Meanwhile, as a subject area that many may not have considered, this book is very highly recommended indeed.
books are widely available in the more specialized outlets, however, for ease of purchase, they have just launched their first website/on-line store which can be seen Tankograd Website (LINK)