Carbine Fortress 82 REFORGER Show of Force against the Soviet Union
by: Darren Baker
The following introduction is as provided by Tankograd Publishing.
REFORGER 82 and its field training exercise Carbine Fortress were held at a time of increasing East-West tension in Europe. Since the mid-1970s, the Warsaw Pact was engaged in a large-scale build-up of its theatre forces stationed in Eastern Europe and in the western regions of the USSR. Carbine Fortress took place, therefore, against a darkening horizon, characterised by a determined and steady effort of the Warsaw Pact to develop a concept of operations and capabilities that, in a hypothetical war in Europe, would have overwhelmed NATO’s forward defences. Aside from new tactical aspects Carbine Fortress also served as the proving ground for new military technology, first and foremost the new M1 Abrams main battle tank that was deployed during the exercise alongside its predecessors of the M60 tank family. In this publication, both the exercise phases and the deployed military vehicles are shown in many hitherto unpublished action photographs.
This offering from Tankograd Publishing is a 64 page soft backed offering printed in a portrait style. The cover is a glossy card that will do a reasonable job of protecting the pages within and also provides a good surface for the photographs on the cover to be displayed. This is a joint authored offering by Walter Böhm, Wolfgang Igert and Diego Ruiz Palmer. The book is one of the duel language publications from Tankograd Publishing and has German text on the left and English text on the right of each page.
There are 10 pages of dedicated text in this title which will be of interest to those who are interested in military exercises or maybe even took part in this particular exercise. The text is well written and presented in a logical manner, but I suspect it will be the images that encourage most modellers to purchase this title and it is just such images that fill the rest of this title.
Most of the photographs in this offering from Tankograd Publishing feature US Army elements both in the field and being deployed. I was pleased to see that the photographs cover all elements of the military such as infantry, armour, artillery and even the Military Police manage to show their faces in this offering. The visual elements of this title break down as follows 106 colour photographs, 19 black and white photographs plus 11 graphics and maps.
The photographic element starts with the deployment of participating forces between the 8th and the 12th of September 1982. We are provided with 10 pages of photographs showing military vehicles on the highways and byways of Germany, I was also pleased to see the Rail transportation covered in this section. Most of the black and white photographs in the book are in this area of the title. An issue that I have become familiar with is that colour photographs from the 1970’s and early 80’s tend to have a fuzzy appearance to them and I am pleased to see that Tankograd Publishing has very few of such images in this title. All of the images are accompanied by excellent captions in both German and English resulting in a clear understanding of what you are looking at.
The next section looks at the 13th to 15th September 1982: this covers the orange attacks across the fictitious international border using a combat bridge at Werthiem-Faulbach. This section has particularly clear pictures for the most part and these should prove very useful to modellers from a detail point of view. The photographs of the bridge crossing being set up are the only ones that I cannot say are the best, but they cover a very important element of the exercise and I am really pleased to see the series of 4 pictures in this title.
The Airborne get a section to themselves looking at the Airborne assault of the 3rd ‘Golden’ Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division – Landing sites Golf and Kilo in the vicinity of Gelchsheim/Riedenheim near Oberscheckenbach on the 13th September 1982. The photographs here cover many elements of the airdrop operation with the exception of the loading; it covers both troops and their vehicles in the air and shortly after hitting the ground. This section then looks at the response to the airdrop and how it was quickly halted by armoured elements. This area contains a nice selection if photographs depicting the M1 Abrams in the field during its early service.
The last section covering the exercise looks at the 16th to the 17th September 1982 and the response of the Blue counter attack forces. We are presented with a good number of photographs covering the M113, M60 and M1 Abrams in the field, but I was pleased to see the artillery and support units getting covered as well by Tankograd Publishing.
The title comes to an end with a special look at the 3rd Infantry Division and the 2nd and 3rd Battalion elements of it that were the first to be equipped with the M1 Abrams. This section covers the support elements within the units as well as the M1 itself. The photographs of these early M1’s should be greatly appreciated by modellers as a number of them are close up images.
As a modeller I was not overly concerned with the why and the where fore of the exercise, but its written coverage is not excessive and will be of interest to some, and so this is not an area for criticism. The photographs are where my interest lays and Tankograd Publishing has presented me and other potential viewers with a great selection of photographs; it is true to say that the American and to a lesser extent the Canadian forces get the most coverage in this title, but I see that as a plus because it means that if that is the area you are interested in this offering provides it. The duel language element does not bother me as it is well presented; however I really appreciate the effort put into the captions with each photograph as they are first rate.
Highs: The captions with each photograph are of a high standard due to providing clear information due to their length.Lows: None of note.Verdict: A well presented title covering the US Forces for the most part during the Carbine Fortress 82 Exercise.