- Published on Friday, 08 April 2011 11:52 Robin Jenkins
AFVs in Irish Service Since 1922
From the National Army to the Irish Defence Forces
Ralph A. Riccio
Mushroom Model Publications (Green Series No. 4108)
UK Price: £24.99 from MMP
ISBN 978-83-61421-19-1 Softback - 224 pages - Illustrated
29.8 x 21.1 x 1.4 cm
Any book that tries to cover a particular type of weapon used from its inception to modern times in one identified country is a real challenge to write. My experience of reading such books is that they are usually well presented if they are of a naval subject, but invariably of a lower quality if military or aviation subjects are covered. Why this should be has always been a bit of a mystery. Therefore, when this latest volume from Mushroom was announced, my initial delight at the choice of subject quickly became tempered with the realisation that the book would, in all probability, not meet my high expectations.
So why the interest in Irish armour, you may well ask? Well, it can be traced back to one of my Father's uncles who served with the British Army in Ireland in the period 1916-19 and who was a driver in the squadron of the first AFVs to ever be stationed in that country, namely seven Rolls Royce Admiralty Pattern armoured cars. Sent there after the Easter Rising of 1916, I have often wondered how the arrival of such vehicles impacted socially, as well as militarily, on a civilised nation to whom the armoured vehicle was basically unknown.
With the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty at the end of 1921, the civil war commencing in 1922 and the withdrawal of the British at the end of 1922, the first proper Irish armoured corps was formed soon afterwards. In various forms, this formation has grown and developed and still exists today within the Irish Defence Forces.
This is the historical basis of the subject matter tackled by Ralph Riccio within this book. The book, strangely for one of this nature, does not contain colour profiles, but lots and lots of photographs, both in colour and black and white. There are some very clear and detailed 1/35 scale side views of many vehicles and the rest of the book is well written, involving text that draws the reader on, a bit like a good novel.
The book commences with sections on the early British involvement and the civil war; the history of Irish AFV use and organisation to the present day is then covered; armour in support of Irish Peacekeeping Forces abroad is examined;then comes the major portion of the book, with sections on each of the armoured vehicles used and, where appropriate, their operational deployment and history. The book finishes with various appendices on various topics including unit markings, colours for modellers, weapon characteristics and preserved vehicles.
Now, to give a flavour of the content, I have chosen a few pages to illustrate this (but there are dozens of vehicles I could have chosen from). Firstly, we have my favourite, the Rolls Royce armoured car (below);
The Ford Mk. VI armoured car (above); various Panhard vehicles (below);
the BAE RG 32M and the Vickers Mk. D tank (above).
I have to say this is a truly stunning book. Apart from a few colour profiles, I could not see how it could be bettered. The style is excellent, is well composed, easy to follow and, as I have said, actually involves the reader. The photographs are well chosen, nearly all unknown to me and well laid out. Riccio is gifted, not a term I use normally when describing reference book authors, but this man knows how to present a subject properly.
So what do we think?
From nothing to the definitive text for many, many years to come on Irish AFVs in one simple move. Already the strong front-runner for my book of 2011. Wonderful!
Our thanks to MMP for the review sample. To buy this title directly, click THIS link.