by: Darren Baker [ ]
This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series and is on this occasion looks at the Challenger 2 British Main Battle Tank of the Gulf War. This book as with all of the titles in this series are I feel an attempt to offer the modeller a combination package covering both reference on the vehicles and a look at the models available to replicate the Challenger 2 as a scale model.
The following portion of the introduction is from the Pen and Sword website:
The pioneering tank crew of the First World War would be astonished by the advances made in the design of armoured fighting vehicles over the last 100 years which have resulted in the Challenger 2, the current main battle tank in service with the British army. In terms of its speed, manoeuvrability and firepower, and the protection it provides for its crew, the Challenger 2 is one of the most advanced and sophisticated tanks ever built, and it is a popular subject with tank modellers and enthusiasts. That is why this volume in the TankCraft series on the Challenger, featuring hundreds of photographs and specially commissioned colour profiles, is absorbing reading and such a valuable work of reference.
Archive photos of the Challenger 2 in service and extensively researched colour profile illustrations depict the tank throughout its operational life. A large part of the book showcases available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined and provide everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of the Challenger 2.
This offering from Pen and Sword is authored by Rob Griffin; Rob Griffin has authored a couple of titles in this series previously plus a few other books, but this is back where he seems the best modern British armour. This is a soft backed book with a good card cover protecting 64 pages of semi gloss paper. The contents of this title are laid out as follows:
Challenger 2 in detail
Challenger 2 variants
Camouflage and markings
Challenger 2 specialist variants
In service and in action
This offering from Pen and Sword starts with a look at how and why the Challenger 2 came to be and why the British Army now fields it. Main Battle Tanks up for consideration were the American Abrams, the German Leopard and the French LeClerc; the French LeClerc lost out due to its three man crew which was not favoured by the British, the German Leopard lost out due to a lack of clarity on the armour protection which is a surprise to me. The Abrams would have been the MBT in use with the British even though the UK was not happy about the gas guzzling turbine engine, but Vickers came through with the Challenger 2 which met the requirements put forward but perhaps most importantly met a requirement not written down ‘National Pride’.
The chapter of the book covering the details of the Challenger 2 is a weak spot for me as while it covers some nice aspects that are usually hidden, the images are small on size and I feel need further coverage. On the plus side the images in this section alongside the other images in the title does mean that the book does fair job where visual reference is concerned. The section looking at variants is a good part of the title covering the Titan and Trojan, vehicles that are perhaps the best reason for Challenger 2 in that they share a lot in common and so requiring a smaller inventory of parts be kept and sent where they go.
What I think of as the modelling sections of the title starts with the camouflage and markings and this shows a number of Challenger 2 tanks from four aspects covering the left side, top, front and rear. Tackling the vehicles in this way provides the modeller with great visual guides from angles often ignored especially from above. What I especially like is that this area of the book covers the armour packages from bare bones to the TES version and as such show a great progression of the Challenger 2 line. The models covered here are as follows:
Challenger 2, 21st Queen’s Royal Lancers, Operation Telic, Iraq in 1/35th scale, by Steve Abbey
This is a nice build of the Tamiya kit showing some nice improvements to the base kit that lifts it to an especially high standard. The build feature is very condensed as you would expect, but is a nice short build guide.
Challenger 2, King’s Royal Hussars (KRH), Salisbury Plain 2018, 1/72nd scale, by Timothy Neate
This build of the Dragon 1/72nd offering covers corrections to the base kit and results in a nice kit. I was surprised at the number of changes needed.
Challenger 2, 4th Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd RTR, Iraq 2003, 1/35th scale, by Brian Richardson
This is another example of the Tamiya kit and it highlights how good a job Tamiya did as a base model, this offering has been lifted with some scratch work that anyone should be able to tackle.
Challenger 2, RTR, AJAX Squadron, UK 2017 to present, 1/35th scale, by Kirk Ashley-Morgan
This is the new offering of the Challenger 2 from Trumpeter minus the armour package that comes with the model and is a huge improvement over the initial Challenger 2 releases from Trumpeter.
The models and aftermarket offerings are reasonable well covered and I was surprised to see even a Lego version covered in the title; now this may not be for the modeller but could be used to attract the kids to the hobby.
This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft book series has a lot going for it in my opinion. I really like that we are offered more in the way of details on the builds in the title as it greatly improves both their appeal and value. I felt the in detail section of the title is on the light side but asa whole package it is worth picking up.
Darren Baker takes a look at one of the latest offerings from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series covering the Challenger 2 British Main Battle Tank of the Gulf War.
Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ ]. All rights reserved.