Cruiser Tank Warfare (e-book) (Book) Review
by Simon Moody
Publisher: Original eBooks
Author: John Plant
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In this study, John Plant explores the theory and practice of what he terms ‘Cruiser tank warfare’ within the British Army. Relying heavily on a limited number of official doctrinal manuals and secondary sources, Plant attempts to chart the evolution of British thinking about the employment of light ‘Cruiser’ tanks during the interwar period and how such armoured forces were eventually employed during the Second World War.
Plant’s overarching thesis, that the British Army failed to innovate in the field of armoured warfare to as great an extent as their rivals, particularly Germany, is not new. The author acknowledges, correctly, that this was not due to financial stringency or lack of suitable equipment, but from the failure of the officer corps to realise the revolutionary potential of the tank in manoeuvre warfare. This argument would have been strengthened by a deeper analysis of the theories of the tank enthusiasts themselves. While the philosophies of J. F. C. Fuller and B. H. Liddell-Hart have been touched upon, the writings of important pioneers of the theory of armoured warfare in Britain, such as G. Q. Martel, have been omitted. This has often resulted in naïve conclusions as to the significance and wider impact of these theories.
Plant is clearly enthusiastic about his subject, and the chapter on the technical characteristics of armoured fighting vehicles displays a breadth of knowledge in this area. Furthermore, he provides a number of battle narratives in which British Cruiser tanks were employed. The book is fairly well written, but suffers from clumsy analysis in places. Overall, this is a suitable starting point for the reader who is seeking an introduction in to the theory and practice of armoured warfare within the British Army.
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