Sunday, September 12

Read n' reviewed: Syrian Armor at War Vol. 1 from Pla Editions

Syrian Armor at War Vol. 1 covers the vehicles & fighting machines from all sides of the conflict in Syria. We have read Pla Editions book, & though we would share what we thought about the contents in our review...

Read n' reviewed: Syrian Armor at War Vol. 1
By Pla Editions
72 Pages 
Softbound, A4 Portrait format 
All texts in English
A synopsis: "Syrian Armor at War Vol. 1"
"Syrian Armor at War Vol. 1" from Pla Editions is a new reference book about the Syrian Armor used by all contending parts in the Syrian conflict. this war began in 2011 and continues to this day. Mostly Russian built tanks and vehicles, pick-ups from all sources and all kinds of weapon systems. Shocking pictures that will be the perfect visual reference for the modeller and the military enthusiast. 

Due to the sensitive nature of wars, the publishers have reiterated that the book is not intended to be a political or historical textbook, but simply a reference for armour and modern AFV lovers, and that, I suppose, is what Pla Editions books are all about.

We will look at the book's physical make-up, then look page to page, chapter to chapter to give you a little more insight into what's inside for modellers...

Physical nature of the book:
A glossy softcover book in A4 portrait format, the book is seventy-two pages, filled with English text and all colour photos. The inside the book photos are all very good, with exclusive access for photographers it seems, and close up pictures of vehicles from all sides in action, with combatants from all sides shown also. This is great for the modeller who wants to capture not only the vehicles, but the scenes and the people who populate them.
As mentioned in the contents, we look at each type of tank in each section, and a mix of AFV's in others, but all sectioned off. 

Contents: Vehicles covered in this book...
2.- T-54
4.- T-55 (T-55A, T-55M, T-55AMV)
16.- T-62
22.- T-62M
24.- T-72 URAL
28.- T-72M1
32.- T-72 Mahmia
34.- T-72 Shafrah
36.- T-72AV
40.- T-72B
42.- T-90
44.- Artillery
46.- Self Propelled Artillery
50.- ZSU-23-4 Shilka
53.- Anti-Aircraft Trucks
54.- Pick-up
58.- BMP
66.- Miscellaneous
68.- Destroyed

Page by page...
We start off by looking at a series of photos and captions to match covering the T-54. Several amoeba patterned tanks were used by rebel and opposition groups. These have interesting patterns of camouflage and each is different in equipment and wear and tear to each other. Something that is common to all the vehicles in this book, with no two vehicles seemingly the same.
We see the T-55A of the Free Syrian Army and the Mujahidin Brigade against both sandy and wooded backdrops. The authors give us the captions to explain the situations and peculiarities of the time they were captured on film. A Syrian Army mine roller tank and some very interesting up-armoured T-55's with extra armoured plates and with a basket-like bustle around several of the turrets which were packed full of sandbags. Some of you might have seen Martin Kovacs make a model of this type. The T-55M and T-55AMV are also featured, with the authors explain the extra options such as the Korean FCM systems and applique armour in its various types explained.
We look at the T-62 next, with not only photos of the tanks in both tree-lined and sandy conditions, in cold and the heat. Importantly as throughout all the book we see many of the soldiers who are crewing and being carried into battle on these tanks and their variation of uniforms and clothing, stowage and weapons. Tanks and soldiers from the Syrian army, National Liberation Front, Free Syrian Army are all here, and photos like this one below, of a T-62 in front of the medieval citadel of Fakhr-al-Din al-Ma'ani castle are excellent additions to the detailed closer-in shots that are mostly throughout this book.
The up-armoured T-62M is given four images over two pages explaining the extra particulars of armour and equipment. We also look at the T-72 Ural, which the Syrian Army had purchased. We see these in 2012 in new condition, and several years later, battered and worse for wear after constant combat in both the Syrian army and opposition forces. The Czech made T-72M1 is seen often with that applique basket armour around the turret that carries not only stowage but heavy ersatz armour substitutes for extra protection on these and the T-72 "Mahmia" which really does look like a different tank altogether - with all of that extra armour protection on the hull and the turret.
The further modified T-72 Shafrah, or razor sports the slatted, angled plates of overlapping armour on the sides of the turret and on top of thick side metal and concrete-filled armoured skirts. These tanks make for a great series of photos on a tank-type I never knew existed. The T-72AV, with its ERA Kontakt blocks of armour all over the tank is next. These include interesting subjects such as a T-72AV with a Ural hull and several other variants captured by rebel forces.
The T-72B, looking pristine in Syrian government forces service leads on to the modernized T-90 tank over two more pages. These look so modern compared to the previous vehicles we have looked at - but already very worn. We look at examples of artillery next, with home-made mortars and their crazy ammo (made from gas cylinders), regular towed and self-propelled artillery units in the form of the 253 Akatsiya and 251 Gvozdika, BM-21 Grad trucks with rocket launchers, anti-aircraft AZP-60 and 2S1 SPG are here in single photos in this section.
An excellent photo series of a month of wear in active service of the four-barrelled Shilka AA tank is really interesting to see for armour modellers. speaking of AA - the tucks and pickups of the world are also on display with anti-aircraft guns perched upon some chassis that are really not meant to carry or have these guns fire from them. 
GAZ trucks, Toyotas (of course), Mitsubishis and even small Hyundai trucks bear guns and rockets in this section.  Photos f the firing of these weapons are an added bonus to the modeller to see them in real action in such good photos, and not in a blurry video somewhere on line.
The workhorse of the Syrian Army is definitely the BMP-I - and we get eight pages of this veteran troop transport with soldiers on board and in some variations on the theme. We also see a HMMWV (Humvee), Russian Ural trucks, VT55-KS in this section of other "randoms" on the battlefield. A poingiant part of the book is saved until last. Several of these vehicles in the book are seen again and in amongst destroyed scenes of the cities and towns of Syria which has suffered so much for this conflict.
And that is all for Volume I.

Maybe we could add a bit more background to each of the combatant's backgrounds, but I suppose to keep this apolitical the authors left this out. It would help me understand a little more about who is who.

It appears that another volume of this book is coming in time, and to me, if it is like this, then it is a good thing! This book is well thought out and the photos are excellent, cover all sides of the conflict and the comment is incredibly informative and non-partisan which is great.

An excellent reference and inspiration for modellers. A great partner to Pla Editions "Bear in the Sand" book about the conflict also.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Pla Editions for sending this book to us to read and review...
This book is available to purchase now - check it and the others in the range at this Product Link on the Pla Editions Website