|TANKOGRAD - Salisbury Plain Training Area|
Chris Smith takes a look in the latest of this series from Tankograd...
Salisbury Plain Training Area
Author: Tim Neate
Series: British Special 9013
Softcover; A4, 64 pages
Tankograd: The Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) is the United Kingdom's largest military training area, hosting live-firing and tactical exercises throughout the year. Salisbury Plain has played an important part in the development and military training of the British Armed Forces over the last 100 years. This publication tells the story of SPTA and shows the vehicles of the British Army used there from the 1970s up till today in selected rare photographical material. Let us take you back to the times when Chieftains, Stalwarts, Militants, Nubians, and Saxons, to name but a few, ruled southern England!
Salisbury Plain is a 94,000 acre of southern
The book is the well known Tankograd format, in A4 with 64 pages and 132 colour photographs. As usual the text is in both English and German although it is set out in such a way that the two do not clash.
In typical Tankograd style the book is split into two distinct parts, the introduction text and the photographs. The introduction explains why the land was purchased and outlines how the training area grew from the initial Bulford Manor Estate to its current size. Next is a brief description of the different garrisons, camps and exercise areas the Plain is home to. A history is given and a detailed listing of the units currently based there, if the site is still actively used. Many of the smaller camps were set up during the First World War as transit camps and Netheravon Airfield was the primary flying school for pilots destined for the Western Front.
The next part of the introduction covers the use of the training areas themselves and also mentions Imber village. Evacuated in 1943 the villagers were told they would be able to return after the war but this was never allowed. Most of the original buildings have been replaced but the village church still stands, is out of bounds for exercising troops and even holds a service once a year.
Copehill Down is described which one of the largest urban combat training facilities in the world. The final part of the introduction covers the use of simulation equipment and its impact on exercises, no longer can they degenerate into playground cries of “I shot you”, “No you didn’t” between the opposing forces.
The main part of the book is the photographs which cover vehicles on the Plain over the last forty years. The photos are divided into categories such as Heavy Armour, Light Armour and Engineers. Heavy Armour starts with Chieftains, moves onto Challenger 1 and finishes with Challenger 2s. There’s a particularly good picture of a Challenger 1 absolutely covered in mud. Light Armour includes CVR(W) Fox, Ferrets, the NBC reconnaissance Fuchs and various versions of the CVR(T) family, including one in a custom camouflage used by the ACE Mobile Force in
The Artillery section doesn’t just cover the various guns used over the last forty years, AS90, 105mm Light Gun, MLRS even 5.5inch guns but also all the support vehicles used by the Royal Artillery. There is a photo of a
Salisbury Plain is crossed from North to South by the River Avon and the various crossing points provide the backdrop to the next series of photos which cover the Royal Engineers. Here I finally found out what the Nubian mentioned in Tankograd’s blurb on the rear cover was. It was built by Thorneycroft and used for excavating slit trenches. It really looks like something out of World War Two and knowing how tight the British Army is, it probably was.
The Infantry photos start with FV432s but the one that caught my attention was the Landrover mounted 120mm Wombat. Saxons and Warriors also feature in this section along with a
The next section of photographs is titled Logistics and kicks off with three pictures of Antar Tank Transporters at Ludgershall Vehicle Depot just before being sold off in 1979. As might be expected from the title this section features a fair old number of Bedfords ranging from 1960s vintage RLs to the more familiar MKs but also a Bedford removals lorry used for moving married quarter furniture and a Bedford articulated lorry used for diver training in the 70s. The larger 8 and 14tonne TMs come next followed by the Leyland DAF. There is one photo of the new
The final section of the book covers the REME, something of personal interest. As well as the expected Chieftain and Challenger Repair and Recovery Vehicles there’s a Centurion ARV, several trucks with box bodies mounted on them as mobile workshops and Foden wheeled recovery vehicles. Also featured are the Leyland Martian, FV434, Samson, M578 ARV and the Warrior Repair and Recovery vehicles.
This book concentrates purely on the vehicles used by the British Army over the last forty years. It just happens that all the photos were taken on Salisbury Plain. They could just have well been taken in BAOR or BATUS in
For me, good...but could have been better!
My thanks to Justin at Bookworld for the review sample.