The Dark Age of Tanks - Britain's Lost Armour 1945 - 1970

SteveO

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The Dark Age of Tanks - Britain's Lost Armour 1945 - 1970 by David Lister

In the thirty years after the Second World War, the British army entered a period of intense technological development. Due to the lack of surviving documentation, this period is almost a second Dark Age. What survives shows the British Army’s struggle to use cutting edge technology to create weapons that could crush the Soviet Union's armed forces, all the while fighting against the demands of Her Majesty's Treasury.

On this journey, the Army entertained ideas such as micro-tanks of about 20 tons in weight with two-man crews, massive 183mm anti-tank guns, devastating rocket artillery, colossal anti-tank guided missiles and ended up on the cusp of building hover tanks.

This book takes a look at the records from a time period of increasing importance to the tank historian and starts the process of illuminating the dark age of British tanks.

194 pages / 50 illustrations
 

Hood

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Looks interesting, The Tank Factory filled some gaps but this looks like the kind of postwar British tank book I've been looking for for years.
Shame it won't cover the MBT-80 stuff though and the lead up to Challenger given the 1970 cut-off date.
 

Pasoleati

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Wka23: There is a book titled "Rolls-Royce Meteor" published in the R-R Heritage Trust's Historical Series. The book is still in print.
 

GTX

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Wka23: There is a book titled "Rolls-Royce Meteor" published in the R-R Heritage Trust's Historical Series. The book is still in print.

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Available here
 

gatoraptor

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"Due to ito increasing problems with US customs we are no longer able to dispatch books to the USA." So does anyone have any ideas around this?
 

Pasoleati

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Buy direct from the Heritage Trust. PayPal is accepted.
 

SteveO

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Mine arrived today. Looks like a good read. No colour illustrations but the images are very interesting. Quite a few are CGI artist impressions of the various projects. Haven’t read it yet but would already recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the subject.
 

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uk 75

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I have used an image from this book above.
It is a must have for anyone interested in postwar British fighting vehicles.
It covers tanks, light armour, apcs, recce vehicles and anti tank missiles with good original drawings and photos. It reminds me of my old well thumbed copy of RE Smiths British Army vehicles from Ian Allen.
 

Foo Fighter

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Got it today along with Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s from the same source. Having been very bad and bought too many books I shall probably have to send myself to bed without supper. I will though, on balance, continue with a glass of something amber and smoky just to sooth my conscience. I know, terrible.
 

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Got it today along with Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s from the same source. Having been very bad and bought too many books I shall probably have to send myself to bed without supper. I will though, on balance, continue with a glass of something amber and smoky just to sooth my conscience. I know, terrible.

Have both books as well, whilst I can say that 'The Dark Age of Tanks' is very interesting, I cannot say the same for Forgotten Tanks and Guns.
 

Foo Fighter

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Just looking for the reference value, is it not much cop for that?
 

uk 75

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Just looking for the reference value, is it not much cop for that?
I can only vouch for the Dark book, which is the only book of its kind about postwar British armour projects
 

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Hello guys,
Forgotten tanks was my first book, and I learned a lot from the feedback on various sites and forums, and incorporated those into DAOT. Both books had issues with artwork as well, hence the state of the art work in Forgotten Tanks, and I was more prepared for them the second time around.

I'm just about to put my next book to bed, so would happily hear any feedback on DAOT, so I can incorporate those improvements again.
 

CJGibson

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My holiday reads have become lockdown reads (keeps me quiet while Mrs CJ works from home. Somehow I think she'll be happy to see me going back offshore) and I rather enjoyed DAOT, which has shed light on some systems I'm interested in such as Orange William on FV426 and FOIL.

Keep up the good work.

Chris
 

Foo Fighter

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From the site it appears they are not in the office, looks like we will not get these books until after the lockdown is relaxed so another six weeks at least then. A pity they did not see fit to say so up front imho.
 

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Book is available through AmaCon (through other sellers on their site) - looking forwards to my copy - ordered last week, due in a couple of days...
 

VIKINGTANK

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Hello guys,
Forgotten tanks was my first book, and I learned a lot from the feedback on various sites and forums, and incorporated those into DAOT. Both books had issues with artwork as well, hence the state of the art work in Forgotten Tanks, and I was more prepared for them the second time around.

I'm just about to put my next book to bed, so would happily hear any feedback on DAOT, so I can incorporate those improvements again.
What is your next book about please? Received DAOT today and started reading instead of DIY as tasked - looking very good so far.
 

Listy

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What is your next book about please? Received DAOT today and started reading instead of DIY as tasked - looking very good so far.

Glad you're enjoying the current offering. Thanks.

Next one is British spigot weapons of the Second World War. Although there is a chapter touching upon some other countries weapons.

Off the top of my head I have the following items covered to some level:

UK:
AEB bomb thrower, Arbalest, The Bombard Experimental Gun, Bombard, Hedgehog, Hedgerow, Water Hammer, Mustard Plaster, Baby Bombard, Jefferis Gun, Stewblack Projector, PIAT, Petard, Denny Gun. CLarke Family (Tree, Ground, and Gun).
US:
US Tree Spigot, Bigot, T30 57mm.
German:
Schwere & Leichter Ladungswerfer
Japanese:
Type 98

There's also a separate chapter or two written by an Australian Historian by the name of Thomas Anderson covering the Matilda Hedgehog.

Our aim is to get it out by July next year
 

VIKINGTANK

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What is your next book about please? Received DAOT today and started reading instead of DIY as tasked - looking very good so far.

Glad you're enjoying the current offering. Thanks.

Next one is British spigot weapons of the Second World War. Although there is a chapter touching upon some other countries weapons.

Off the top of my head I have the following items covered to some level:

UK:
AEB bomb thrower, Arbalest, The Bombard Experimental Gun, Bombard, Hedgehog, Hedgerow, Water Hammer, Mustard Plaster, Baby Bombard, Jefferis Gun, Stewblack Projector, PIAT, Petard, Denny Gun. CLarke Family (Tree, Ground, and Gun).
US:
US Tree Spigot, Bigot, T30 57mm.
German:
Schwere & Leichter Ladungswerfer
Japanese:
Type 98

There's also a separate chapter or two written by an Australian Historian by the name of Thomas Anderson covering the Matilda Hedgehog.

Our aim is to get it out by July next year
 

VIKINGTANK

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Hi Listy, Sorry got disturbed mid-reply and then got sent home from work early!

Yes was still enjoying it into the early hours! A real interest of mine, being ex-infantry, is the APC/MICV parts. Not got there yet but keep taking a peek, but enjoying all, thanks. When finished will do a review on Pen and Sword. I must admit your next book on spigots would not be a real interest of mine, but I wouldn't rule it out.

However with your excellent knowledge and research I was wondering if you ever considered writing a book on western/NATO projects of the 1970s to the 1990s; not in service stuff thats been done, but projects like the US/German MBT-70, the UKs MBT-80, the US XM803, the German turretless VT/GVT tanks, the French AMX-32 and 40 (yes I know for export only) etc, etc. To my knowledge thats not been done in detail. If Jagdchieftain gets a mention you have a sale!

All the best, Vikingtank.
 

Listy

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Yes was still enjoying it into the early hours! A real interest of mine, being ex-infantry, is the APC/MICV parts. Not got there yet but keep taking a peek, but enjoying all, thanks. When finished will do a review on Pen and Sword. I must admit your next book on spigots would not be a real interest of mine, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Then you'll love what I'm working on at the moment. After the deadline I got hold of several documents entitled "AFV for the 1980's." Which feature the MICV in a lot more detail than the book. I'm planning on doing it as a youtube video, sort of the missing chapter that should have happened but was killed by time.

However with your excellent knowledge and research I was wondering if you ever considered writing a book on western/NATO projects of the 1970s to the 1990s; not in service stuff thats been done, but projects like the US/German MBT-70, the UKs MBT-80, the US XM803, the German turretless VT/GVT tanks, the French AMX-32 and 40 (yes I know for export only) etc, etc. To my knowledge thats not been done in detail. If Jagdchieftain gets a mention you have a sale!

All the best, Vikingtank.
The problem there is sources and Language. I can (just) make trips to Kew. I can make weekend excursions to Bovy and other archives. I can't do that to The other NATO nations. As I tend to work about 99% from original documents it means I can't/won't just copy from others work. Simply because I don't trust them. If I've got it in front of me in a primary source then if I am challenged on it I can provide the reference.
equally I don't speak French, my German just about suffices for direction, ordering food and trying to very crudely ask a lady for a date, and the less said about my ability to speak American the better.

The FV3805 seems to fall as part of the AFV's for the 1980's program (simply by the date), although one wonders why it was built as the S-tank concept had already been rejected by then.
 

VIKINGTANK

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Hi Listy,

Yes anything on the lead up to Warrior would be most interesting. I was a FV432 driver (ye gads how thin were they) and served on Fox, as a No1 on CONBAT and MILAN and as a Platoon commander on Warrior; and help introduce Desert Warrior to the Kuwait Army. Please let me know when its on youtube I would be most interested. I did see a magazine years ago, Defence Technology I think, about the entry of Warrior into service which has the author believing that each platoon would get 1 vehicle with a Rarden turret and 3 with MG turrets; I forget what the MG turret looked like but I believe it was a bit like the Repair/Recovery versions have now.

I fully understand that its good to keep to English kit because of the language barriers elsewhere. Its a fascinating subject I just hope somebody does it and in English.

The FV3805 is surely the Centurion SP gun not the Jadgchieftain? But yes if the S-Tank experiment was seen as not quite as good as Chieftain then why was it built? I do remember a rumour, yes I know a rumour in the late 80s that us anti-tankers would get chieftains as they were retired from the RAC into the infantry battalions as our MILAN could not kill the opposition with ERA plates on their tanks (we never purchased the tandem warhead ammo for MILAN); but it was indeed a pretty poor rumour!

All the best, Vikingtank. If you wish to chat more then please feel free to PM me.
 
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Foo Fighter

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I am lucky enough that I have an ex tanker from that time living on my estate. Nice to talk to one of my ancestors about old tanks.
 

Foo Fighter

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I got my books today but only because I was at the main door to the block of flats. It seems the regal mail delivery folk are unable to operate door handles but the, the amazon folk have been unable to do that for yonks. I really do despair sometimes. They look good but a bit small, then again I do not buy a lot of specialised books.
 

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Got it today along with Forgotten Tanks and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s from the same source. Having been very bad and bought too many books I shall probably have to send myself to bed without supper. I will though, on balance, continue with a glass of something amber and smoky just to sooth my conscience. I know, terrible.

Have both books as well, whilst I can say that 'The Dark Age of Tanks' is very interesting, I cannot say the same for Forgotten Tanks and Guns.
A lot depends on your area of interest. The Forgotten Tanks book covered some of the 'fitted to a bulldozer' types which I was quite happy to see. Both in the Pen and Sword sale at the moment too.
 

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My copy of the Dark Age of Tanks has arrived and I am very pleased with it. It is the only book of its kind, and has lots of great information.
The only slight annoyances are the lack of images (I'm sure there are more out there, look at the Secret Projects Series), the darkness of the renders - which are difficult to read in low light, a slightly brighter shade might be better - and the featuring of the FV300 series in the front cover but the lack of further information/images, which was the main reason I bought the book after seeing it there. I really do apologise if I am being overly critical, but I found the Tank Encyclopedia website more informative for certain vehicles, FV4005 anyone.
Otherwise, a very enjoyable read, and thoroughly recomended if bought cheaply on Amazon.

Thinking about Forgotten Tanks and Guns, can anybody elaborate on what is 'wrong' with it, and whether it is worth me shelling out to get hold of it.

Kind regards Listy, Rafe
 

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My copy of the Dark Age of Tanks has arrived and I am very pleased with it. It is the only book of its kind, and has lots of great information.
The only slight annoyances are the lack of images (I'm sure there are more out there, look at the Secret Projects Series), the darkness of the renders - which are difficult to read in low light, a slightly brighter shade might be better - and the featuring of the FV300 series in the front cover but the lack of further information/images, which was the main reason I bought the book after seeing it there. I really do apologise if I am being overly critical, but I found the Tank Encyclopedia website more informative for certain vehicles, FV4005 anyone.
Otherwise, a very enjoyable read, and thoroughly recomended if bought cheaply on Amazon.
Hello Rafe, I can answer those.

Simple answer: Pictures cost money. There's 87 pictures in there, of which 22 are the CGI renders. The cheapest images licenses I've found so far are Bovington, which charge £25 per image (that's not including the cost you have to pay for the staff to do the work of going to find the images from their system). A few of the images were effectively open source and thus free, but not as many as I'd like. Some the image providers asked for a copy of the book, which is another cost to me. The IWM has before quoted me the cost of £800 for just 11 images. The artist to do the CGI was cheaper than the cost of licenses, hence why I used so many images from him, but it was still a significant bill. Add on the cost of research, for example a trip to Bovy includes travel, overnight accommodation, camera license in the archives and food & drink.
I make a little over £1 per book sale, and I don't shift that many books, a few hundred in the first 6 months is good going. It also took me about, five years work, I think.
So I hope you can see why there's so few images. These books run at a loss for me (first book was even more insane, I think I paid about £3500 in total for images for that!). The only reason why these can happen is the publisher pays you an advance, and then your book sales pay off the debt.

The FV300 series thing, when I wrote that section of the book I knew one of my colleagues (bloke called Ed Francis) was working on a book dedicated to the FV300 series. Rather than steal his thunder (and add another year or so to the work) I decided to skip over that part. It also made the book more cohesive, as we wouldn't suddenly veer off the FV200 to spend several chapters talking about the FV300.
Unfortunately Real Life happened and so far the FV300 book has not happened. Ed however does have a youtube channel:

Which covers a lot of British armour development. You'll see one labeled as the Vickers Medium Cruiser Mk.1, with a tank that looks very familiar. The reason for that image is I asked Bovy for images of the FV300, their archive has the VMC Mk1 labeled as a FV300, a mistake that has been around for longer than I've been alive. So it got included under that label.

The CGI images looked ok in colour on the computer screen, but didn't translate well to black & white on the page. I did suggest to my editor that we look at something else for fixing those, and she said in her opinion they looked ok. Equally, we were under deadline pressures.

As to TE, check the name of the author, you might just find my name on the page. I know I supplied quite a few documents to Mark for the Fv4005 article.

Thinking about Forgotten Tanks and Guns, can anybody elaborate on what is 'wrong' with it, and whether it is worth me shelling out to get hold of it.
I personally don't like my first book. I've no idea if it's that old saw about 'Yourself being our own worst critic' or not. There's a lot I would have done differently now, and I'm sure people will see the differences in quality. Basically I read all the feedback on review websites, Amazon and the like, and made changes which are reflected in the quality of the two.
Part of why I dislike the book was also down to the headaches I had in pulling everything together, especially the art work. I had four artists, some turned in now work, others half the work they said they'd do. Then I had to find other artists etc. On the day of the deadline the artwork was not complete, and I was sitting there with GIMP desperately trying to knock up the rudimentary plans in the book. Even so we still overshot by a few months, then the book was lost at the publishers for 6 months (as an aside the conversion to ebook format failed, the files corrupted and had to be restarted from scratch). In general it was one of those cursed books where if it can go wrong, it will.
One good thing to come from it, is I found Andrei Kirushkin for art work. It was the first time he'd tried his hand at tanks, he then went on to do work for TE. He's been the sole artist for the Spigot book coming out, and he's a brilliant artist now!
 

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I'm so sorry for the naivety, I did not realise just what the images cost and the background information into the publishing.
Just to let you know it is a fantastic book and hopefully a ground-breaker in the field. Thank you for what you have produced, it is a genuinely enjoyable and pleasing read, and I belive it was worth your while.

Kind regards and apologies,
Rafe
 

Listy

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I'm so sorry for the naivety, I did not realise just what the images cost and the background information into the publishing.
Just to let you know it is a fantastic book and hopefully a ground-breaker in the field. Thank you for what you have produced, it is a genuinely enjoyable and pleasing read, and I belive it was worth your while.

Kind regards and apologies,
Rafe

No need to apologize. I didn't know about it until I produced the book. That was a buttock clenching moment when I read it in the contract! The more people post reviews and feedback the better the books get. The next one on Spigots is going to be damn good.

I'm glad you liked it though. As long as people are learning from the stuff I dig up it's great! That's what I try to do. I mean next weeks article is going to be new ground I suspect many of you on here will not have heard of. 1940s, and an English inventor is suggesting a 9.5mm Rocket gun, a few decades before Gyrojet!
 

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I haven't read it properly yet but I've had a look through it it looks very interesting. There are a number of concepts that fall in line with thoughts I have had for a long time. I like what I so far take as an early concept for what lead to the Scorpion and the MICV80 concept is really good looking.
 

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I haven't read it properly yet but I've had a look through it it looks very interesting. There are a number of concepts that fall in line with thoughts I have had for a long time. I like what I so far take as an early concept for what lead to the Scorpion and the MICV80 concept is really good looking.

Thanks! I hope you do like it when you get ot grips. I really wish I was able to expand on the MCIV80, as I've found more details. But time has been lacking.
 

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