From the moment the US Army fielded the T26E3 (later re-designated as the M26 Pershing) it was apparent that the Sherman-based M32 TRV (Tank Recovery Vehicle) was reaching its limits. Rapid development of tanks in the 40-50 ton range meant that by 1954 there was no option but to specify a new TRV based on the new chassis found under the M48 tank.
This book from Tankograd Publishing looks at the development of the M88 through to the M88A1 upgrade, and finally the M88A2 enhancement that was stimulated by the 70-ton weight of the M1 Abrams MBT.
The book is 64 pages long in A4 page layout (8.5x11.5” approx), with 124 colour photos and 28 monochrome images (many of the latter from Tech Manuals). The text is dual-language as expected from Tankograd, with German text followed by an English translation by the same author. Compared to other titles this English translation is somewhat smoother and more readable.
Sections include a basic vehicle description (7 pages text), basic M88 photos (19 pages), 8 pages of detail shots of an M88A1, 3 pages on Pioneering vehicles, 8 pages on the M88A2 Hercules upgrade followed by 4 pages of details from a single vehicle, 8 pages on Bundeswehr M88s (including the M88A1GE), and 6 pages on service with other nations. Note that it concentrates on the vehicles, and provides no real info on deployment and organization beyond occasional remarks.
Photo reproduction is of course very good, varying from one to three images per page except in the detail sections. Some of the images contain context data regarding year, location, and unit, but this is not consistent. Neither of the detail walk-arounds gives sufficient context data to really pin down a time frame beyond “recent”. The reader will need other sources of data to select paint schemes and markings.
The big omission is the interior of the M88 – there are a few images in the M88A1 Detail section (pp34-5) but not really enough for us modellers to work out a full scratch-build to fill the empty space behind all the separate hatches that AFV Club provides in their kits. Instead, this book concentrates mainly on the exterior.
Once again the folks at Tankograd have given us a fine book of photos to help detail one of AFV Club’s more unusual kits, and it is worth the price as long as its limitations are understood. Other resources will be required for those of us looking for interiors.
Highs: Mechanical descriptions are good. Details are shown well.Lows: Not much interior detail. No unit/marking data.Verdict: A good reference if you have the AFV Club kit.