For anyone who has studied, in any depth, Soviet military doctrine to any extent, one of the key factors was always the use of large concentrations of artillery. Taking this a stage further, artillery requires prime-movers to give it a degree of mobility. To further complicate matters even more, certain other areas have to be factored-in. The first of these areas comes from the (forced) collectivisation (and mechanization) of Soviet agriculture beginning in the 1920s. Now, due to the much harsher climactic conditions to be found in Russia, argricultural machinery functioned better if it was fully-tracked... Therefore, putting these seemingly unconnected elements together, the Soviet army would ALSO be more able to function, if many of its vehicles were also fully-tracked. As Russia did not have the level of infrastucture (in particular roads) of the more developed Western states, artillery would have to be transported cross-country, therefore the race began to develop a series of vehicles which could tow artillery over the most extreme terrain.... One curious footnote of history is that the first Tyagatshi (Tracked Artillery Tractors) were actually American - in particular, the Holt-Caterpillar SIXTY.
About this review
The subject covered by this new book is enormous, therefore, it may be useful at this point to explain the breakdown of the review. The bulk of the book concerns individual models (14-15 pages on each of 11 vehicles), so I will treat this (in case of repetition) more in terms of an 'overview'. The book, as can be seen from the title, does give a large part of its content to covering these vehicles during their (captured) service in the Wermacht and I will try to give a good assesment of this aspect as possible. Physically, the book is also large, and will require a great deal of work to attempt to do it justice, so this review will inevitably be longer than usual!
Tyagatshi: Soviet Full Tracked Artillery Tractors of WW2 in Red Army and Wermacht Service is published by Tankograd Publishing and for those who require it, holds the ISBN Number of 3-93651902-1. The book is hardback, slightly larger than A4 format and consists of 360 pages which amongst them have 491 b&w photos, 3 color photos, 66 graphics, 15 1/35th scale drawings and 24 color plates. The book is written by Jochen Vollert and the color plates are provided by Oliver Missing. The book is bi-lingual, with the complete text in both English and German.
Notes on Designations
Introduction The vehicles:
Ia-12 Lend-lease Tyagatshi
The Tyagatshi in combat
Tyagatshi in Color
Each of these chapters has a number of sub-divisions, in particular the Addenda, which covers a number of connected subjects such as the Tyagatshi in Finnish service.
Beginning with the third chapter: Photographic Enhancement, Vollert gives a good overview of the contrast (no pun intended) between Soviet and German photography of the period. The author talks about the work that was put in to improve and enhance the images in the book. While not entirely pertinent to the history presented, it does indicate the seriousness in which the publishers have treated the subject - other publishers take note!
The chapter titled Notes on Designations is useful to explain the nomenclature and gives approximate translations for some of the terms in the book. It also gives an explanation of the tractor classification systems used by the Soviets and the U.S.A.
The following chapter, Introduction is a historical overview of the development of the Tyagatshi from WWI until the end of WWII. This section is brief, but very informative and gives the reader a useful grasp of the decisions taken and a glimpse inside the minds of the decision makers of the period. Two other sub-chapters are contained within this section, Tyagatshi production, and five pages on the 'Beuteschlepper' - captured vehicles in German Army service. The designations (where allocated) are given for each vehicle in service, these are based on German technical mauals of the day.
The next section (the bulk) of the book covers, in a mixture of text and images, the eleven principal vehicle types which served from the 1920s until 1945. Each chapter begins with an overview of the particular type followed by several pages of photographs of the vehicle in Soviet service. A page of 1/35th scale plans finishes this section and then (where appropriate or documented) several further pages of photos cover the 'Beuteschlepper' . For modellers, these eleven sections are a virtual gold-mine. Not only is the quality of the comtemporary photographs impressive, but their accompanying text is both concise and informative. It is also worth noting, that the editorial policy was to put two photos on each pge OR one full-page photo. This is NOT one of these books which crams as many (frustratingly) small images on each page as possible. Logically, as we are dealing with artillery tractors, some very useful images of artillery pieces are also present. The choice of images has also been done with care as they show a variety of views of the same vehicle type - something which allows the modeller to start thinking in three dimensions. The introduction text to each vehicle type also has a particular value for the modeller as the majority of the vehicles used components from AFVs (or vice versa) which gives one a starting point from the running gear of existing kits. Each of the production variants are covered with a good written description along with a good section on the technical details. Although the scale plans are superbly executed, there are some additional 'gems' in the forms of additional line-drawings showing details such as engines or suspension.
The structure of this section also indicates just how important a disciplined approach is to editing a book of this size. All the eleven vehicle types are edited in an identical manner, allowing one to easily find the section which is more interest or particular relevance.
The next chapter - Lend-lease Tyagatshi, covers in seven pages, the seven tractors supplied by the U.S.A. to the Soviet Union. Included in these vehicles is the M5 High Speed Tractor. As all of these vehicles (including bulldozers) were actually used as artillery tractors, some interesting possibilities present themselves. Tyagatshi in combat consists of seventeen pages of contemporary photos of various vehicles in a number of combat situations. Once again, this is of particular interest to the modeller.
The penultimate chapter, Addenda, has eight sub-chapters which cover such interesting areas as the improvised 'Armored and armed' Tyagatshi or some of the preserved (some of doubtful provenance!) examples in Russia and Finland. A very comprehensive bibliography is also included in this chapter.
The final chapter consists of color profiles of all the principal vehicles, which, although not to scale, do have complement the scale plans superbly.
At first, it would appear that this is a subject which should have limited or somewhat abstract appeal. However, the reality of this book, is for anyone working on vehicles of the Eastern Front, it should have a number of practical applications. This is not an 'obscure' subject under any circumstances due to the ubiquitious nature of these vehicles, it really is about as 'mainstream' as it gets. I mentioned previously my admiration for the consideration which has been given to the editing. I will repeat this, and also reiterate my total admiration for the quality and value of the images within the book. I haven't unfortunately been given a price for this book, with the size and content.. That said, the depth of this book is frankly extraordinary and, as a bonus, will have a broad appeal to both Russian and German armor modellers. I would hate to enter into hyperbole, but it's definitely close to a 'Hunnicutt' on Artillery Tractors... It is true that within other books, much of the information is certainly available, however, particularly in the case of many of the images, they are unique to this book, having been privately purchased from private collections by the author. If I was asked to summarize this book in one word, it would be extraordinary.
I would like to express my thanks to Jochen Vollert of Tankograd Publishing for providing the book for review.
The German publishing house, Tankograd Publishing, has established itself as one of my 'personal' favorite publishers. Having been fortunate enough to review a fair number of their recent books, with this new book, I was expecting something special, I certainly have not been disappointed.
Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...