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Soviet T-54 Main Tank

Soviet T-54 Main Tank Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2019 Title Soviet T-54 Main Tank
Author James Kinnear, Stephen Sewell Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2018 ISBN 9781472833303
Format 192 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $35.00


"Between 1945 and 1958," authors James Kinnear and Stephen Sewell report, "nearly 17,000 T-54s were built". Among the most influential tanks of the post-WWII period, variants saw service in Cold War conflicts throughout the globe.

Now Kinnear and Sewell tell the total tale in Soviet T-54 Main Battle Tank from Osprey Publications. And to cut things short: this vital volume deserves pride-of-place in every armor enthusiast's library.

Contents traverse the topic in five chunky chapters and 192 pithy pages:

  • Introduction
  • First There was Morozov...
  • Development of the T-54 Medium Tank
  • Description of the T-54 and its Variants
  • Derivatives of the T-54 Tank Family
  • Soviet Army Service and Export

The picture-packed tome sports several hundred illustrations – many previously unpublished.

Color views. B&W shots. Close-ups. Profiles. Drawings. Blueprints. Tech-manual excerpts. Plenty of eye candy here.

Then add archival details, personalities, politics, production, variants, and worldwide users. All leaven Osprey's masterful mix.

Detail enthusiasts will particularly appreciate the outstanding level of authoritative information. Massive measures of T-54 minutiae – in and out, top to bottom, front to back – dominate text. Modelers will love it.

Chassis. Running gear. Interiors. Armament. Even the number of changes (1,944) required to bring the original design to operational maturity. Evolution of the T-54's characteristic "hemispheric" turret design proved especially interesting.

Did you know why Soviet designers placed that distinctive gap between the first and second T-54 road wheels – and why the ZSU-57 derivative sports just four road wheels? Kinnear and Sewell reveal the reasons.

Absorbing anecdotes and action accounts further season the study. I didn't know that the film "Bridge at Remagen" nearly sparked an international incident during the August 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia!

Osprey's splendid survey sports arresting insights, helpful details, and canny commentary. I loved it. If you have the authors' earlier Soviet T-10 Heavy Tank and Variants, you know exactly what I mean.

Note, however, that content only covers Soviet-produced vehicles. So let's hope the authors pen a similar study of license-manufactured Chinese, Polish, and Czechoslovak T-54 variants.

Nine appendices, sources lists, and an index neatly wrap things up. I can't wait for Osprey's sequel on T-55 derivatives.

Rabidly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!