Monday, April 18

Read n' Reviewed: Syrian Armor at War Vol.2 from Pla Editions

The follow up to Volume I in the "Syrian Armor at War" series, Pla Editions new volume no#2 covers the vehicles & fighting machines from all sides of the conflict in Syria. We have read the book, see what we thought in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Syrian Armor at War Vol.2
From Pla Editions
72 Pages
A4 Soft Cover format
English text
ISBN: 978-84-124788-0-8
Price: 15€
Pla Editions have a new Abrams Squad reference book, the second part of the recently released Syrian Armor at War. Volume two here is a direct continuation in every way of the previous title we reviewed last year. We liked that one a lot, but would this one be just as good in quality?

A synopsis: "Syrian Armor at War Vol. 2"
"Syrian Armor at War Vol. II" from Pla Editions covers the use of armoured vehicles in the Syrian war. The book covers all combatants on either side of the war that 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 are featured here as they were in volume 1. The nature of the book is mainly graphical, with large format photos and some text to explain the circumstances where they can. 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.

Volume 1 of this series that we reviewed last year...
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 in turn as they appear in the book.

Contents: Vehicles covered in this book...
2.- T-54
6.- T-55 (T-55A, T-55M, T-55AMV)
22.- T-62
27.- T-62M
28.- T-72 URAL
31.- T-72M1
36.- T-72 Mahmia
37.- T-72 Shafrah
38.- T-72AV
44.- T-90
46.- Artillery
48.- Self Propelled Artillery
50.- ZSU-23-4 Shilka
52.- Anti-Aircraft Trucks
54.- Pick-up
58.- BMP
64.- Miscellaneous
66.- Destroyed

Page by page...
We start off by looking at a series of photos and captions to match covering the T-54. Yes, this venerable warrior is STIL being used in conflicts and in many theatres around the world, but these are still deadly and still surviving in the fight in Syria. Several pages of this tank in service, with two notable T-55 hulls with T-54 turrets in use fill this section of five pages
As we hinted at, not far to go from the t54- to the T-55, and several types are shown over the next fifteen pages. The T-55 types (T-55A, T-55M & T-55AMV) are all featured in this large gathering of photos, some half-page, some whole or even a double-page spread in one case, from all sides, but normally the Syrian government forces seem to have newer examples with 1970's or more modern equipment such as rangefinders. That does not mean the subjects are any more interesting than the older, battered but still functioning tanks here.
The T-62 & T-62M are next to be shown in-theatre. With five pages of the round turreted and then the up-armoured "Dolly Parton" extra bra armour on the front of the T-62M version. The authors point out all of the updates and interesting points of these tanks along the way. You can tell that they are modellers as they are fawning over the subjects as much as I would be.
Modern?  - Well, the T-72 is getting there, with the T-72 URAL and the T-72M1 featured over the next seven pages. The surrounding war-stricken surroundings have not yet been mentioned, but in this and all of the other sections, the real destruction of war without pity can be seen in the destruction of towns, cities and countryside. The wear on even these newer vehicles (I know not that modern) is as evident as it is in the countryside and it gives the reader pause to think about what's being displayed here. The book keeps right out of taking sides however and focuses on the subjects instead.
More T-72's are coming, with the T-72 Mahmia, the T-72 Shafrah and the up-armoured T-72AV with its tell-tale ERA armour are shown over seven pages. The T-72 Mahmia has some of the weirdest surround stand-off armour I have seen, but it is only captured on one page, the T-72 Shafrah is the same with one page and very odd slatted armour around the turret. The rest given to the T-72AV and some photos like this one below show us that photos from warzones can still be of a great quality and use to the reader/ modeller. Even the few photos in the book that are of a lower quality are useful in the accompanying text that calls out a peculiarity to the reader.
Supplied by Russia directly to the Assad government, the T-90 is the most modern MBT on display in the book, and we see one that has been captured by the Rebel forces. Four photos of the same tank here on display in a rare collection that would more than enable you to make your own very accurate scheme. We next go to the big guns of the artillery. Starting with the standard towed-type of guns in the form of three D-30 Russian guns and - wow - a (Post WWII Yugoslavian version) of the German WWII leFH18 gun! We next look at the self-propelled artillery with four photos of a pair of tracked BM-2S1's, a 21-Grad and a ZSU-57-21 AA gun.
Speaking of AA guns, the venerable four barrelled favourites of modellers, the ZSU-23-4 Shilka is shown over four photos, we look at some large-gunned Anti-Aircraft trucks and pick-ups or "tacticals" as the US call them - the suspension, especially on the AA trucks, must bust a gut trying to keep these upright when they fire sideways in a broadside. There are many types of variations on any type of truck and gun types you can think of in here.
What would modern warfare be without the BMP? A lot more people would be walking. There are six pages of various variants in here from all sides, and with different types of up-armouring or schemes. Some "miscellaneous" types are also thrown in here, with T-72 & T55 recovery vehicles and the stalwart BTR-60 in a double spread between them.
Of course, there is a fair share of destroyed and "brewed up" tanks on the Syrian battlefields, with four pages of MBT's and APCs of many types utterly destroyed and at best disabled. It is a good (but thought-provoking) study of what happens to the destroyed vehicle. 
A nice inclusion, and one that shows some character of the publishers, is an "Erratum" section of two pages where readers and armchair/internet enthusiasts have pointed out wrong units or details about some of the vehicles in Volume 1 of the series. I like that the publishers are not afraid to show their lack of omnipresent knowledge (there is always someone who knows just a little more than you - in my case MANY). It is good to see here.
And that is all they wrote!

Well, Volume 2 to me is a great companion to the first book, it adds more great photos and helpful text in the same manner as that one did, and enthuses the reader to get up and make something to replicate what they have seen in this book. 

I can't pick anything I don't like, it is also a cheap prospect at 18 euros. Great value for your "Syrian pound".

An excellent reference and inspiration for modellers. A great partner to Pla Editions "Bear in the Sand" book and of course Volume I of this series about the conflict also.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Pla Editions for sending this book to us to read and review...
This book and the other in the series is available from the Pla Website...