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Book Review
First Mechanized War
WWI, THE FIRST MECHANIZED WAR.
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by: Roman [ BIZARRE ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The First World War was a subject neglected by most modellers until recently this could have been justified by lack of quality model kits; however there were enthusiasts interested in that topic and a lot of research was done by historians. Models of WWI vehicles got their second birth last year and now we have a range of good kits to choose from.

The current book from AK-interactive is one of the first if not the very first book that appeals directly to scale modellers and not only enthusiasts of history and technology. “The first mechanized war” aims high and has some very good offerings under the cover, although not without omissions as any other publication or products.

The book

The content is structured into several chapters and after an introduction that contains both history and philosophy of mechanized warfare the parts on specialized subjects begin.

The first section contains information about German tanks and it is mostly dedicated to A7V, the only German manufactured tank. Notes on design and performance of the tank are given, together with operational history. 2 pages contain colour profiles of tank named Wotan, plus there are also two profiles of “Beute” tanks – Whippet and Mark IV together with Austin armoured car. Unfortunately there is no information on captured tanks in that chapter (I could forward modellers to excellent series of books from Tankograd publishing on that subject). Original photographs for that chapter contain A7V, Beute Mark IV, Beute Whippet and Daimler truck with anti-aircraft gun on the truck bed.

The next chapter is dedicated to British tanks and here we have all “rhomboid” variants - Mark I-IX. Some of these got more text then others, depending on what is known or on the importance of the modification. Here you can also find information regarding armoured cars and medium tanks – Whippet and others. Colour profiles contain “Little Willie”, Whippets, Medium tank Mark C, Mk.I, Mk.IV Female and Male (Female tank is called Male on the profile and top view of Mk.IV male has wrong position of rear lookout hatch and poor detail on the roof overall!), Rolls-Royce, Austin and Lanchester armoured cars.

French tanks come right after British and here there is information dedicated to Schneider, St.Chamond and Renault FT-17. This section has the largest amount of profiles and reference photographs (among the three chapters dedicated to tanks and armoured cars). Subjects depicted as profiles include the above mentioned French tanks, including different variants of FT-17’s and vehicles on that base.

After that there is a small 2-page section dedicated to motorcycles and 2 page section dedicated to trucks. The motorcycle section has text and colour profiles while truck section has reference images of trucks in France with short text on how the motorization of transportation influenced warfare.

The Belgian, Italian, Russian Imperial and American army are covered in a combined chapter – “Other armies”. The Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires did not get any attention here and somehow only Russian Imperial army got a “conclusions” remark. In that remark the author’s state that the Russian Empire got decisive outcome because it was dependent on the Allies. The authors “forgot” about the Bolshevik Revolution that led to that “decisive outcome”. The colour profiles in that section show a Whippet from the Russian Imperial Army and then a Whippet from the Bolsheviks Red Army, armoured cars from Italy, Austo-Hungarian Empire (keep in mind that the army itself has no chapter) and 2 US tanks. Reference photographs include Russian and American subjects.

Finally there is a section dedicated to aircraft and here there is a short general description followed by 8 pages with colour profiles for different armies (Russian Imperial, French, German, Italian, British, Austro-Hungarian, American). Each profile has detailed legend regarding aircraft type and unit (where possible).

The above mentioned chapters were focused on the vehicles themselves and after them there are 2 pages dedicated to the paints used during WWI. Here some of the descriptions are rather vague. When it comes to German Beute tanks the text is not referring to Tankograd publications (again!) and the colours mentioned are inappropriate. The colour patches in this section have AK-interactive product codes where available. Uniform colours have only 1 page and here the German, French and British armies are mentioned together with colour patches and AK-interactive product codes. Overall this is not a very good reference for figure painting and I would rather forward readers to Osprey books dedicated to WWI uniforms.

Finally, there is a concluding chapter dedicated to the personal story how a private collection of photographs from a French officer was discovered. These photographs are printed on 50 pages of the book and these are very interesting to investigate in detail.

This book was written by Carlos Fresno who also did all illustrations. The text appears to be in Spanish originally and was translated into English. Therefore some of the phrases sound a bit off and are difficult to understand, but overall text quality is rather good with interesting thoughts and observations. However I was missing a common thought or joining between the chapters that would lead me through the reading process.

The quality of paper is very good and it has nice glossy finish. In total there are 168 pages plus a thicker backer. The quality of graphic work and photographs is of a high level with many of the images reproduced in full page size. A few of these were taken from NARA, IWM or other known sources, while most of them are from either author’s collection or Casa de la Imagen Collection. These are previously unpublished. However, I would be careful with colour profiles as reference for building models as small details are not always drawn on these or profiles contain errors (like with Mark IV Male – exhaust exists the hull roof too close to center, the location of rear look out hatch is mirrored and the hatch itself has no details depicted).

Conclusion

Overall, this book could be a good start if you have zero experience with WWI subjects and would like to get a good overview about vehicles that were used at the battlefield. The authors provide solid historical background and share many interesting photographs, including lots of unpublished images found by the author in private collection; however when it comes to modelling I would take it very carefully as there are inaccuracies in tank profiles (Mark IV tank) and information regarding camouflage on German tanks can be further discussed.

SUMMARY
Highs: High quality black and white photographs, many of them unseen before, good attempt on giving tactical and historical background behind the machines used during WWI.
Lows: Inaccuracies with tank profile drawing, questionable information regarding German tanks camouflage, some language issues, inappropriate conclusions when it comes to the Russian Empire.
Verdict: Recommended for those who would like to get a broad introduction into WWI vehicles.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: AK273
  Suggested Retail: 29,5 Euro
  Related Link: Manufacturer
  PUBLISHED: Dec 30, 2014
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 89.52%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 91.28%

Our Thanks to AK Interactive!
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About Roman (Bizarre)
FROM: AKERSHUS, NORWAY

Copyright ©2017 text by Roman [ BIZARRE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

hm... I wanted to order this book as I have only one regarding WW1 tanks. Not so sure anymore.
DEC 30, 2014 - 08:47 PM
Overall I thought it was a good book, especially compared to AK's previous publications which were complete disasters. I am not an expert so I can't speak to those couple inaccuracies but for the most part I felt it was money well spent (I paid 45$ for my copy). I sure learned a lot. The best part of the book is the black and white pictures.
DEC 31, 2014 - 02:23 AM
I think that Roman's comments and observations about the risks when using artist renderings for anything other than colors and markings applies to all such works and not just this single AK title. I'm always very skeptical of ALL color plates and artwork published in these "profile" type books. Using those color plates for modeling details is always dicey. You almost never have any idea as to the original source for the drawings - how old they are, who originally drew them, etc. Most of these "profile" artists simply use someone else's plans for their paintings, and those who draw their own plans are generally unknowns in regard to their research credibility. As to actual colors, a healthy dose of the same skepticism will also stand you good. Remember that the artist doing the color profiles is making his own interpretations and judgments about shadows, fading, camouflage patterns, etc. His stylistic approach is for making an attractive 2D picture which may or may not coincide with what you do with your own 3D work. A guide and suggestion for painting - yes. An historically accurate portrayal of what the actual vehicle looked like - maybe not quite. For modeling, it's always best to stick with period photos and plans and contemporary plans drawn by credible and known researchers and historians. Even then, accuracy should be checked and verified against other sources. Enjoy the pretty pictures for the ideas that they might give you for colors and markings, but don't rely on them for anything else. It's a good rule to apply this approach to using ALL such works. In regards to this particular book, the new and previously unpublished photos sound like they might be worth the price of admission.
DEC 31, 2014 - 03:39 AM
A good review. One of the things that I noticed is that there is an awful lot of blue in the French tanks where it should probably be artillery grey instead. Going by the great French camouflage book and the various profiles in GBM magazine the colors are fairly bright. I had a lovely talk with one of the researchers at Saumur the past spring and the bright colors that we know and love on French AFV's was a post-war evolution. It's a good general reference for WW1 camouflage but I'd go with Warpaint for the British ones, the Tankograd book for the A7V and so on.
DEC 31, 2014 - 04:03 PM
For good color profiles on French tanks I really can recommend the Editions de Barbotins books. a great read too.
JAN 05, 2015 - 11:33 PM
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