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Duel 18, M1 Abrams vs. T-72 Ural, Operation Desert Storm 1991. By Steven J. Zaloga, with illustrations by Jim Laurier. Soft covers, 7.25 x 9.75-inches, 80 pages. Contains 47 color and two B&W photographs, eight pages of color art, two color maps, two line drawings, six charts, bibliography and index. ISBN 978-1-84603-407-7.
Ospreys recently introduced Duel series has quickly gained popularity for the way the strengths and weaknesses of opposing weapons systems, in a specific environment or encounter are conveyed to the reader. After all, what armchair tactician doesnt have his own favorite, be it a tank, ship or aircraft? Using contemporary accounts backed by detailed technical, tactical and morale analysis, a number of authors have produced what are, by and large, some very well-presented studies.
Foremost amongst these authors, Steve Zaloga has recently produced this title, which details the success of the American-designed M1 Abrams in its encounters with the Soviet-designed T-72, as used during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The (as usual) well-written text begins with an introductory chapter, which is followed by a chronology of events that cover design milestones of the two tanks as well as the events in which they were involved. Then follows a pair of chapters devoted to design and development as well as the technical specifications of the vehicles and their sub-systems. The training, motivation and organization of the US and Iraqi combatants are then detailed, as is the strategic situation that led up to the actions described. Specific battles are detailed, particularly those fought at 73 Easting and Medina Ridge; the latter includes eye-witness accounts by the US Armys Captain Mark Gergas, who commanded Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment. The author then devotes a chapter to an analysis of the actions and presents his reasoned conclusions. A bibliography is provided to aid further study, while an index will also serve the reader searching for specific bits of information.
The text is ably supported by maps, technical specification tables and comparison charts. The latter details protection as well as ammunition performance, plus details on US units that deployed the M1A1. It should come as no surprise then, that the reader will come away from all of this quite well-informed!
As is usual with these books, the graphic content is extremely well-done. Artist Jim Lauriers excellent color art work shows gun sight pictures as seen by a typical T-72 and M1 crew; these make it quite easy for the reader to grasp the technical disparity between the two types. Ammunition is depicted, while other art shows the interior layouts of the protagonists tanks as well as markings and battle scenes. The maps show an overall picture as well as details of the Medina Ridge battle, again easing the reader into the process of understanding how events unfolded. The photo content is split between developmental, training and operational images, some of which are quite dramatic. All are well-reproduced and informatively-captioned.
As a reviewer, I must confess that it is getting increasingly difficult to accomplish my task when describing Mr. Zalogas work. I have become so used to being extremely satisfied by his outputs quality, that I have become repetitive in my praise. Well, so be it! Modelers of the period as well as those who wish to know WHY their favorite tank/ship/plane is the best of its time, will do well to delve into this series, especially the ones with this authors name on the cob=ver
Frank V. De Sisto
Osprey books are available from mail order and retail outlets. They can also be acquired direct through their web site at: www.ospreypublishing.com.