Even though the Belgian Army (Belgisch leger/Armée Belge) has deployed on UN missions and maintained a sector (BSD - Belgische Strijdkrachten in Duitsland) in West Germany during the Cold War as part of NATO's Northern Army Group (NORTHAG), it is rare to find a book on Belgian armor. This Model Foto Focus book is a great introduction for those not that familiar with Belgian armor and a welcome sight for those looking for more details of these small but versatile vehicles.
The Belgian Army produced/assembled, under license, large numbers of the entire range of 5 wheeled Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) vehicles or CVR(T)s which include Scorpion, Scimitar, Striker, Spartan, Samaritan, Samson and Sultan. No other export customer deployed this many CVR(T) variants. Nearly identical to their British counterparts in the beginning, they were slightly modified over time. The Belgian CVR(T) vehicles were used widely at home, in the BSD sector of West Germany and overseas for peacekeeping missions.
The book is a softcover landscape format of 138 pages with mostly color photographs. Each distinct vehicle is presented in external walkaround and then closeup detail of all aspects of the interior and exterior.
An introduction explains the procurement of the CVR(T)s by the Belgian Army and followed by a summary of each vehicle type, units that deployed them and a short operational history.
The subsequent chapters are:
1. In Service - photographs of the Spartan, Sultan, Samson and Samaritan during maneuvers and peacekeeping missions
2. 'Long-hull' Running Gear -illustrates different between hull of these vehicles and the Scorpion/Scimitar gun tanks
3. Spartan - General Look Around
4. Spartan - the Hull
5. Spartan - The Interior
6. Samaritan - General Look Around
7. Samaritan - the Hull
8. Samaritan - the Interior
9. Sultan - General Look Around
10. Sultan - the Hull
11. Sultan - the Penthouse i.e. the command tent extension
12. Sultan - the Interior
13. Samson - General Look Around
14. Samson - in Detail
15. Samson - Interior
16. In Preservation - CVR(T)s in Belgian museums
The progression of chapters builds on each other until each entire vehicle is fully explored. Every effort has been made to cover every angle and detail. Fantastic detail for adapting the styrene and resin kits that are available but designed to be built as British vehicles. Differences between the British and Belgian vehicles are spelled out clearly.
Merely in presence, this book is a very welcome sight but it's 138 pages are packed with a level of detail not seen in most armor books. This is due in large portion to the still running CVR(T)s that are part of the fantastic collection of the Gunfire Museum at Brasschaat and the painstaking effort by the author to capture as every detail.
I've waited many years for this book ever since I started to explore the units that comprised NORTHAG as I served in the American component with the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) during the last few years of the Cold War. This book is fantastic and I snapped it up the minute it was for sale. Fulfils all my expectations as I've been looking for something to accurately convert the AFV Club and Accurate Armour kits to Belgian form but I will also use this for British CVR(T)s.
Highs: Full color photographs exploring every detail of these vehicles.
In service photographs show the vehicles in maneuvers and deployments.
Fills a huge void in books of armor used by the Belgian Army.Lows: None really but I wish there more in service photographs.Verdict: Must have for any fan of the CVR(T) range and those wanting to know more about the Belgian army during the Cold War.