Osprey Publishing's book on the T-90 Standard Tank is a good balance of primer and historical reference. Written by Steven Zaloga and illustrated by Felipe Rodriguez, it begins with the end of the Soviet Union, the change from T-72 to T-90, and from designer inception to current use.
My first impression is that, like so many of Mr. Zaloga’s other books, there is a LOT of information crammed into just 48 pages. This is not a small concern or idle compliment; it takes talent to know what to include and exclude in such a condensed briefing. Mr. Zaloga excels at this. There are some very useful tools Mr.Zaloga has included in previous publications that, happily, are here: a glossary at the beginning for terms, several excellent tables in the main reading material that illustrate the conditions the T-90 was designed into, and a section at the end for further reading (though relatively small for this tank). As with other titles, this is not just a simple overview of the topic, but one that allows the reader to see the reasoning behind the myriad decisions that affected the tanks design as well as describing what the outcomes were.
As with anything written about Soviet/Russian tank design over the last 40 years, there is discussion on Tank Design Bureau rivalries, military industry politics, and general political impact on tank design. So, while the T-90 is often noted as being the first post-Soviet tank put in production, I think the case is well made that the T-90 is better described as a updated and repackaged T-72 evolution. The book takes the reader on a well guided tour regarding the milestones in development of the T-90 and discusses some of the reasons that they are milestones. For example, the T-90 designation is officially adopted in 1992 by state decree after the failure of “the T-72” in Iraq. With the T-72 being a staple export, and suddenly having its international reputation ruined, the follow-on upgrade to the T-72 line, Obiekt 188 (then set to be designated as the T-72BM) was remarketed as the T-90.
The book goes on to cover all the major production models of the Soviet T-90, from the initial low-production T-90 through the upgraded T-90A and finally coming to the T-90MS. Sub-variants are discussed, as are the reasons that the T-90 series of tanks are more of an export design than a domestic Russian tank. There is a nice development discussion section that covers both the experimental competitors to the T-90 program and the variants based on the T-90.
There is a major section on the T-90S Bhishma as this export order from India essentially saved the design when the Russian government could not afford more than token tank orders. Orders to Algeria are also discussed.
Finally, the story ends with the design being pressured by adoption of the T-14 Armata on the high-tech end of the tank design spectrum, and the rebuilding of older T-72’s into T-72B3 in 2012, as being the death knell of the T-90 but once again with Russian tanks, the T-90AM Proryv-3 (essentially the T-90MS export version but with specific upgrades for the Russian Army) is being considered as a cheaper alternative to the T-14.
The tables, pictures, and technical drawings in the book are very useful and relevant to the discussion. The illustrations are described well, with special attention being given to the T-90S in Indian service.
For the model builder, this book is going to give you good information to sort out the differences in models and variants. It should give you excellent inspiration to model a T-90, but it is not a reference for hyper-accuracy.
For the historian, this will give you a very good background on the mess that was (and still is) Russian tank design and manufacturing, reasoning for many of the decisions behind its development, and how this tank fits into the future of the Russian Army.
Highs: More than just basic information, it is an excellent resource on this tanks history. Good coverage of more than just the basic, especially the T-90S Bhishma.Lows: Some model oriented people may find all the political/manufacturing discussions that effected the development a bit dry.Verdict: Recommended to anyone who wants to know more about T-90 tank history, or who want to have a quick technical/reference guide in easy reach.
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About Jacques Duquette (Jacques) FROM: MINNESOTA, UNITED STATES
The first model I remember building was a glow-in-the-dark P-38, running around my bedroom in the dark flying it, and stubbing my toes. I do a lot less running around with glowing models now. I mainly focus on 1/35 armor and figures, with Modern Russian military vehicles being my favorite. I a...