Haynes the Manual provider has started to release a new series of books listed as Haynes Icons. The books in this series are of the same high standards as their bigger brothers, but they are a smaller overall size making them easier to carry about with you. So let's take a look at Churchill Tank offering in this new series.
This new offering from Haynes looking at the Churchill tank is written by Nigel Montgomery and is a hard backed offering which is roughly A5 in size; that is half of an A4 sheet of paper for those that may not know. between the covers there are 160 good quality glossy pages that provided the printed photographs in a very positive way.
The contents of the book are laid out as follow:
Forward Introduction The Churchill Story
the rush to production and modification
Battlefield lessons: A race to keep up with the enemy
The Churchill vindicated
The different marks of Churchill
The Churchill's weapons The 'Funnies' and Specialised Armour
Engineer and related Churchill roles
Gun tank adaptations The Churchill at War
The Dieppe landings
El Alamein and Kingforce
The war in Tunisia
The war in Italy
The campaign in North West Europe
The Korean War Anatomy of the Churchill
Layout of the tank and major components
Basic dimensions of the Churchill Restoring the Churchill
Why restore a Churchill
The tanks under restoration
Challenges of restoring a Churchill
Approaches to historical accuracy Servicing and Maintenance
Regular maintenance operations Operating the Churchill
How to start the tank
How to drive the tank
Fighting in the Churchill: the crew and their roles
How vulnerable was the Churchill? Bibliography Index
The Churchill Story section of the book is well presented covering not just the physical tank but also the manufacturing of the tank and its weaponry; I was also very pleased to see the different marks of Churchill tank covered here as it is a very diverse tank that went through a number of changes and roles it performed. The images that accompany the section have been well chosen and provide a great accompaniment to the text. The images from the training manuals will prove visually useful to the modeller. I like that the early faults or if you prefer issues are looked at and the changes that turned the Churchill tank into a tank its crews had faith in.
The Funnies aspect of the Churchill as alongside the Sherman it was modified to perform as many roles as you can think of; it is my understanding that the reason for Sherman tanks being modified was to satisfy the US military who did not have any trust in Hobart and his Funnies at the start. The Churchill is covered as it performed the role of ARK, bridge layer and of course a flail tank for detonating mines. The weapon conversions look at the petard tanks alongside the never used anti tank version (I only know of one of these tanks that is in a very sorry state at Bovington Tank Museum) and the most fearsome of them all the flame throwers or Crocodile.
Moving onto the Churchill in combat and we as readers are confronted with the abilities of a tank that could climb walls and the faith, skill and fighting willingness of the crews that manned them. The raid on Dieppe tasked to the Canadians has always been portrayed to me as an abject failure, but reading the section on this aspect opens my eyes to the bravery of the crews and the abilities of the tanks. Depending on who you believe none of the tanks were penetrated by enemy fire, the German forces say two were penetrated. The tanks were lost due to being dropped into deep water or losing their tracks due to the stone beach and enemy fire and so in my opinion an issue any tank could have faced.
Another story that grabbed my attention is that of a Churchill in Italy and demonstrates just how well made and capable the Churchill tank was. A lone tank trying to find its way around German defences fell into a valley several hundred feet deep and landed on its roof before rolling onto its tracks with only a broken radio. The commander reported the issue in person and was told to get his tank back in the war; he returned to his tank under enemy fire and then after several attempts his tank climbed up an almost vertical face with the crew worrying it would roll over backwards and went back into action. I suspect that every member here who has had experience of tanks will tell you how impressive that feat is.
The section looking at the Churchill Tanks anatomy is a very interesting section, especially so for the modeller who wants to add an interior to their model. This section covers several versions of the Churchill in quite a lot of detail considering the space available. There are a lot of diagrams and graphics from training manuals showing elements in a lot of detail alongside a good number of photographs of the interior elements of the Churchill.
A great section of this release for the modeller is the one looking at restoration of a Churchill Mk III. The photographs are in some case accompanied with line drawings identifying exactly what elements are which and so increasing the knowledge of the reader. There are also a good number of photographs showing areas of the tank that would never be seen on a completed vehicle.
The section covering the maintenance in the field of a Churchill tank is one that will not likely interest the modeller to begin with, but when you see how many tasks need to be performed it opens up a whole new ball game when it comes to displaying your models in a natural environment. There are a lot of tasks that can be represented even on a model with no interior.
The last section of this title proper looks at how the crew operate the tank and this section is a must study area of the book for the modeller. Crew members are shown working on the tracks and adjusting the tension, cleaning the main gun and the BESA machine gun, loading ammunition and preparing grenades. Also present are photographs of the crew doing every day things such as preparing food and doing the washing in the field. Finally we are provided with images of crews in their rides and either performing manoeuvres or getting ready to go into combat. This section has some excellent images of camouflaged tanks.
This new offering from Haynes in their new Icons series is an excellent title that Nigel Montgomery should be congratulated on. I found the book an interesting read and I lavished a lot of attention on the photographs that got the juices flowing as regards displaying a Churchill tank. The only complaint I could possibly make is that I wish the pages were bigger so that the photographs could be larger as well, but that is the nature of this new series and the photographs are reasonably sized.
Darren Baker takes a look at new line of books coming from Haynes Manuals, the Haynes Icons offering looking at the Churchill Tank.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70ís 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 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...