When a catís nine lives end where does it go? In the Netherlands many of the Dutch Armyís Leopard 1 tanks ended up on Vlieland Island as live fire range targets for military aircraft. The unique remoteness and openness of Cornfield Range on the island provided ample space for actual tanks to be brought to the island as targets. A sad but true fate for tanks that stood with other NATO forces throughout the Cold War, but a necessary means in order to facilitate realistic training for pilots.
Over the years the tanks have not only been hit by aircraft dropping, firing, or launching munitions but they have been exposed to a much larger force with even more destructive power, Mother Nature and the North Sea. Over the years the tanks have been beaten and weathered by the winds and salt water during low and high tides. Taking on the appearance of horrific man-made twisted metal exposed reefs that have succumb to coats algae and curtains of sea weed the old Leopard 1s provide an amazing artistic component that may remind one of a post-Apocalyptic barren battlefield.
The tanks were finally removed from the island in 2004 but luckily author Dirk Bruin spent countless hours photographing the legacy and demise of these metal beasts. The result is a dynamic and colourful look at Cornfield Range through the lens of Dirk Bruinís camera.
The book is provided in A5 landscape format (5.8 inches x 8.3 inches) and includes 69 images on 64 pages. There is text and photos to provide a historical background of the military training use of Vlieland Island. The narratives are important to give the reader a context as to what the island was used for, how it fluctuated between the civilian and military world, and why it is a unique piece of Dutch military history.
The landscape format has a very good feel to it. The images are of an excellent quality and the colours pop on the pages. It feels as if you were handed a small personal photo album and you quickly become immersed in the variety of images showing the destructive force of military munitions, the very unique and identifiable features of the Leopard 1, and the inevitable claiming of the tanks by the Sea.
There are no captions with the main images. I donít think there needs to be. The images speak for themselves and each provides the reader with a special perspective on the final days of the Dutch Leopards.
This is not your typical walk around book showing details of tanks. The book while small in size has a much bigger feel to it from an artistic perspective. Kudos to Trackpad Publishing for producing this book as another important part of the Leopard tank legacy.
Highs: The image quality is excellent. The A5 format of the book is perfect for viewing and storing.Lows: The text size may seem too small to some vision challenged readers.
Verdict: A very unique perspective on the Dutch Leopards with excellent images.