The Challenger 2 is covered here by one of the latest releases from Tankograd Publishing
and in this review I will take a look at what you will find between the covers. The Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank was designed to fight the armies of the Warsaw pact if the Cold War turned hot, and was a replacement for the ageing Chieftain tank that had been in service since the 1960’s and was to work in conjunction with the Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank. By the time the Challenger 2 started going into service in 1998 the Warsaw pact was standing down and the eastern European countries were no longer viewed as the enemy, the result of all this was that all NATO members began to reduce their standing armies and the hardware that went with them. This all resulted in Challenger 2 replacing not just Chieftain but Challenger 1 as well, and today is the only Main Battle Tank in service with the British Army.
The Challenger 2 first saw active service in Kosovo during the KFOR campaign as a part of a NATO force in 2000, and while no tank on tank battles took place its presence helped to deter the situation from becoming worse than it already was. Challenger 2 first saw tank on tank combat in the sands of Iraq during operation Telic where it acquitted itself well, the only loss of a Challenger 2 in tank on tank combat came at the hands of another Challenger 2 which fired on a friend in error and killed 2 of the 4 man crew. This record as regards losses to enemy fire is something to be proud of as some Challenger 2’s were hit by enemy fire, One tank was hit by a 100mm round from a T55 with no ill effect and there are reports of several hits by RPG 7’s without loss of the tank or its crew.
The Challenger 2 never took off as an export vehicle with most of the market having been swallowed up by the very capable Leopard family of Main Battle Tanks which took over from the successful Centurion tank. The Challenger 2 never managed to prove itself better than the Leopard 2 and Abrams which were its main competitors, don’t get me wrong I would not want to face any of these three tanks from inside any of these three tanks but even this Brit has to admit the Leopard 2 is a great MBT. The only country which bought the Challenger 2 was Oman where some changes were made for its use in their climate.
Just incase you have never looked at a Tankograd Publishing
book before this book as with a lot of Tankograd Publishing
books is duel language, having German text on the left hand side of the page and English text on the right. The book has 64 pages 11 of which is text. There are also 139 colour pictures between its covers.
The text in the book is very informative covering a wide spectrum of detail and information on the Challenger 2, I did find some parts of the text hard going but I cannot fault the book or Tankograd Publishing
for the detail they have provided. The sections of the text cover the Challenger 2 from its birth to it baptism of fire and even looks to what its future holds with the Challenger 2 now expected to be in service until 2035. The sections of the text are as follows;
- Improving the the FV4201 Chieftain MBT and FV4030/4 Challenger 1 MBT
- Development of the Challenger 2
- Series Production
- Challenger 2 technology
- Radios and communication equipment
- Other systems
- Challenger 2 units
- Operational debut
- Operation Telic
- Counterinsurgency operations
- Foreign users
- Challenger 2E
- Trojan and Titan
- The future of Challenger 2
Moving onto the pictures which are nicely split up into suitable sections which are;
- Challenger 2 prototypes
- Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
- Challenger 2 in detail
- BATUS Challenger 2
- Challenger driver training tank
- Challenger 2 in Kosovo
- Operation Telic 2003 – 2009
The pictures in the book are all of a good quality with some excellent images thrown in for good measure, a good deal of thought also looks to have been exercised when deciding what belongs where as the layout is very good. The initial section for pictures ‘Challenger 2 prototypes’ has I believe at least one picture of each prototype with the exception of one which is ‘06SP91’ (V5), this did strike me as a little strange as that vehicle is prominently on display inside Bovington Tank museum, so if you wish to get up close to one of the prototypes make a visit. Another picture that really caught my eye and tempts me to build another Challenger 2 is a Challenger 2E in Greek camouflage which is reminiscent of the 1980’s American AFV camouflage.
As a model builder and looking at this book from Tankograd Publishing
for a modelling website the high point has to be the photographic section ‘Challenger 2 in detail’, as this section has not only the overall shots of the vehicle but also the detail images that modellers love to have up their sleeve for a rainy day. As with all high points there is usually a low point as well which is; while the text in the book refers to the bins around the turret there are no images of them from above and I am 99% sure there is some detail below those quite large openings. The BATUs Challenger 2’s also make a showing in the book getting their own section and provides reference for another of the less common camouflage patterns.
The Challenger driver training tank section has some very good reference shots and I am sure may tempt one of the scratch builders on here to tackle something out of the ordinary. The details provided in this series of 10 pictures does provide enough detail of the structure that replaces the turret for an eye catching model to be possible. The pictures in the Kosovo and Op Telic sections are very good but I wish that the Op Telic section was smaller due to the high number of images available online, that being said I do like the pictures of the Challenger 2 in full desert kit which screams build me.
The Challenger 2 rates highly with me as I have five completed models on the shelf, and this book does provide access to detail that will often be missed or not clear enough for accurate presentation. The text is thorough even though I found it hard going in some places, and while the text is limited by the available number of pages it should prove sufficient for the modeller and those with a limited interest and I believe these books are aimed at that market where £12 for a book is a fair price. Is this book for everyone? Well no if you want to know everything about the Challenger 2 you will need to lay down a lot more cash, but this book is a great compromise between the written word and pictorial reference.