There are scant few books concerning Southeast Asian military forces that are not focused on the conflict surrounding Vietnam from the end of the Second World War into the mid-1970s. I was happy to see that Tankograd had decided to publish a volume exploring military vehicles of at least three countries in the region. While there are a number of issues with the book that I will point out in the review, I will immediately say that it does not mean I was disappointed with the work as a whole.
The book itself consists primarily of one-hundred and twenty-two hi-resolution color photographs, along with 6 pages of text describing the three countries included, in alphabetical order, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. Also included are charts showing a rudimentary order of battle for the armies of the three subject nations. The layout of the book is also organized alphabetically, and each section groups the pictures roughly from smallest to largest, for example personal all-terrain vehicles through to main battle tanks. All the text and photograph captions are in both English and German, with the German presented first.
It is quite clear the focus is supposed to be on the books images rather than the text. One should not buy this book looking for detailed order of battle or other organization information.
Accuracy of Information:
Having personally done a fair amount of research in the Philippines and Singapore, I can more deeply explore issues in the information for those two countries. My knowledge of Malaysia and its military is extremely limited. I will quickly summarize the accuracy of information and holes therein for each country in the order they are presented.
As noted, my knowledge of Malaysia does not allow me to critique the introductory text, but there are some issues with the photo captioning. These appear to be a product of either confusion on the part of the author or the two separate sources for the photographs. The Rhinemetall Condors and Alvis Stormer APCs used by the Malaysia Army are armed with one of two turrets. One of these turrets is fitted with an Oerlikon KAA 20mm cannon, while the other is fitted with two MAG 58 7.62mm machine guns. The nomenclature for the turrets, both manufactured by Thales, is presented for both in one picture caption. In another later on in the section, it is presented, but with the nomenclature reversed, making it unclear which is which.
The introductory text for the Philippines is extremely rudimentary. A nation with a complicated history and diverse collection of separate insurgencies, there is simply not enough space in the book to go into the proper amount of detail. As this is not the focus of the book, this can be forgiven. The organizational history only looks at the history of the Light Armored Division with regards to the history of armored vehicles in the Philippine Army. Only in 1976 were all the armor units grouped together, under the Light Armor Regiment, the predecessor of the Light Armor Division. Prior to this reorganization, mechanized units were dispersed to larger infantry formations. While the historical information is not inaccurate, it does leave out a key element of the organizational history. Another caption issue presents itself when a V-150S armored car with a turret fitted with an M2 .50 caliber machine gun and an M60 7.62mm machine gun is misidentified as having a 40mm ST Kinetics automatic grenade launcher.
The introductory text for Singapore appears to be generally free of any major errors that are easily detectable. Organizational information for all three countries is extremely difficult to acquire and from most accounts changes quite often. The Singapore entry does, however, read more like a commentary on Singapores advanced economy compared to its neighbors, rather than a discussion of its military. Singapores economy has had an immense effect on its ability to produce a wide variety of advanced armaments domestically, so this is not necessarily irrelevant. Again, these pieces of text are clearly not the focus of this book. The only potential issue is that, by and large, the three sections do a good job focusing only on the Armies of the respective nations. An air defense vehicle is included in the Singapore section, despite all of these assets being controlled by the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
All nitpicking aside, the quality of the information appears from what I know to be quite good and is quite informative. The photograph captions themselves are very detailed and provide full nomenclature to help with future research.
Editing of Information / Text Flow:
The quality of the English text itself is good. The introductory text follows a clear format in all three cases. No typos immediately jump out (with the possibility of the turret nomenclature issue mentioned earlier) and the editing appears well done.
The text was written in English and then translated into German. Not being at all functional in German I cannot comment on the quality of the translation.
Photograph and / or Illustration Quality and Selection:
As has been said throughout this review so far, the photographs are the main focus of this book. There are 122 hi-resolution color photographs across 64 pages, including at least one full page shot. As with other books in Tankograds 7000 series, the photographs are not detail shots, that is to say they do not show close ups of specific parts of specific vehicles. Markings and camouflage are clearly visible and the photographs are of a resolution where specific elements are visible even if theyre not the focus of the particular shot.
Photographs of the vehicles that appear in the book are listed below, roughly in the order that they appear. Vehicles that appear five times or more have been put in bold to give a sense of variety.
Supacat Mk 3
Mercedes-Benz G-Class series
Land Rover 4x4 110 series
Pinzgauer 6x6 Turbo D series
DRB-HICOM Handalan/Handalan II 4x4 series
EuroTrakker MP750E52WT 6x6 tractor w/ DT.TT1.5-60 trailer
Avribas AV-VBL ASTROS II command and control vehicle
Keris (ASTROS II) 6x6 MLRS
Malaysia Infantry Fighting Vehicle (MIFV; Daewoo K200/A1)
Adnan IFV (FNSS ACV-300) series
Alvis Stormer APC
Alvis Scorpion 90
Bumar Labedy PT-91M
CMC Cruiser/CM-125 4x4
M151A2 Kennedy 4x4
AM General HMMWV 4x4 series
AM General/RIO M35A2 6x6
Freightliner 6x6 wrecker
GKN Simba 4x4 series
Cadillac Gage V-150 4x4 series
FMC M113 APC series
FNSS ACV-300 ARV
ST Kinetics Mini All-Terrain Vehicle
Isuzu Rodeo 4x4
Land Rover 4x4 110 series
ST Kinetics Light Strike Vehicle
MAN L2000 4x4 series
Mercedes-Benz 2628A 6x6 wrecker
Mercedes Benz Unimog 1300L 4x4
Hydrema Mine Clearing Vehicle 2 (MCV-2)
Hagglunds Bv 206 series
ST Kinetics Bronco All-Terrain Tracked Carrier (ATTC) series
ST Kinetics M113/A2 Ultra series
ST Kinetics Bionix series
ST Kinetics Bionix II series
ST Kinetics Bionix ARV
ST Kinetics Bionix BLB
ST Kinetics FH2000 towed howitzer
ST Kinetics Primus SPH
ST Kinetics AMX-13 SM-1
Rhinemetall Leopard 2A4
On the matter of selection, as has been noted my knowledge of Malaysia leads me to believe that the selection there is adequate.
For the Philippines the selection is adequate, but the country has produced a number of locally modified vehicles. A V-150 converted to a recovery vehicle is included, as is a mislabeled stretched V-150S (all V-150S could be considered stretched) with modified side crew doors (not noted in the caption). None of the creations produced by Steelcraft are included, though this is understandable considering the number of those vehicles in existence. However, the Philippines sole FNSS ACV-300 ARV is included, including in a photograph taking an entire page. None of the armament conversions of the M113 done by the Philippine Army, the fitting of M134D high rate machine guns or M39A3 automatic cannon, are featured (there are at least 12 of the former). Also, as the book is focused on the Philippine Army, none of the equally interesting array vehicles used by the Philippine Marine Corps included. Nor are vehicles assigned to the Presidential Security Group, both of which feature interesting camouflage schemes.
The selection for Singapore is interesting in that it does include many light vehicles generally not seen, including the STK LSV and the new MAN trucks. The conspicuous absence of Cadillac Gage V-200 vehicles can be explained by their transfer to the Royal Singapore Air Force. This also explains the inclusion of only one M113 converted to a self-propelled surface-to-air missile carrier. Vehicles used by the Marines are also omitted. The M113, which continues to be an important part of the military while the Bionix series is being phased is only featured in three photographs, and the variant fitted with the 25mm cannon equipped Overhead Weapons Station is omitted. Engineering vehicles such as the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle and the Armored Engineering Vehicle are not included, nor is the Bv 206 artillery radar vehicle.
Use as a Reference:
The usefulness of this book should be viewed first in light of the general lack of information on these subjects. That being said, the information and images are honestly very high quality and would no doubt be extremely useful to a modeler of these subjects. The textual information is interesting and well written, and would be more so to those with less knowledge of the countries in question. Use as a textual reference on history and organization is debatable, however.
Quality of Medium:
The book itself is of the standard 8 x 11.5 that other Tankograd volumes in the 7000 series (and other series) are. The covers on my copy have already taken some abuse and have held up very well. The pages themselves are relatively sturdy and will no doubt stand up well to continued abuse, and will definitely stand up better than many other similarly sized soft cover books of this type.
It is generally nice to see something that has nothing to do with modern western militaries or World War II German armor in the world of such references on military vehicles.
Arthur is obviously not content to simply stop there, providing a suitable introduction to the three countries and sourcing a wide array of images that I have not seen in any other published work or around the internet. The internet is likely the only place to find other photographs of this type, and not in this quality or with the valuable accompanying information.
Highs: This book has images you simply will not find anywhere else. The information contained is invaluable in spite of any of the mentioned issues.Lows: The images, while very high quality, are not detail shots. Those looking for organizational or historical information should also look for additional resources.Verdict: All the nitpicking and other issues aside, I am happy to see publishers like Tankograd taking interest in what could generally be considered obscure topics. A must have for enthusiasts of more obscure modern military topics.
About Joe Trevithick (Thatguy) FROM: VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
Joseph Trevithick is a published author and noted researcher, a Fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, and an on-call historical consultant to Ambush Alley Games. He has been interviewed on domestic and international television, on domestic and international radio, and in print on a number of defense and sec...