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Tankograd 2010: Aerosan
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Tankograd 2010: Aerosan

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Soviet Aero-Sleighs of World War II - in Red Army, Finnish Army and German Wehrmacht Service. By Jim Kinnear. The Aerosan is a very specific form of military vehicle that was used operationally in snowbound winter regions of northern Europe by the armies of several countries during the first half of the 20th century.

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Soviet Aero-Sleighs of World War II - in Red Army, Finnish Army and German Wehrmacht Service.

By Jim Kinnear.

 

The Aerosan (Russian for "Aero-Sleigh" or propeller-driven sleigh) is a very specific form of military vehicle that was used operationally in snowbound winter regions of northern Europe by the armies of several countries during the first half of the 20th century. It was, however, the Soviet Union that made the most extensive military use of these specialised winter combat vehicles.

Aerosans were used by Russian forces during the First World War, the Civil War following the 1917 Russian Revolution, by the Red Army during the Russo-Finnish "Winter War" of 1939-40, and in the winter months of the Second World War on the Eastern Front. Aerosans proved particularly effective in the combination of snowbound northern climate and poor road infrastructure that afflicted the Soviet Union, where tracked as well as wheeled vehicles were frequently confined to roads by heavy snowfalls.

This publication covers the Soviet development of the aerosans from the early 20th century to the end of World War 2. Added are chapters of aerosans in Finnish Army and German Wehrmacht service, both of Soviet design and domestic developments. This is the most complete coverage of military aerosans ever published.

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Awesome Aerosan

This review only focuses on the English translation of the book, not the original German aspect, though as far as I could tell it is a mostly accurate translation with a few minor – or one – personal preference. On page 29, the English translator expresses exclamation twice while the German once. That being said, the tone of the book is interest of the Areosan but unimpressed with the technical specifications of the Aerosan. Germans being stereotyped as compulsively detailed-oriented while the Russians built the Aerosans less than scrupulously would most likely explain the disdain in the original writer’s voice. Oddly, no index is available, unless those have been discontinued.

The text is thorough and informative, and in regards for myself it could be a tad intimidating, but it did remind me of the importance of annotation. It would be better if the page numbers were at the ends rather than the middle, a minor problem solved with a post-it note or a bookmark, and I especially appreciated the acronym glossary – I wish more books had that feature. The pictures, both the photos and the hand drawings are an excellent addition to crave my inner child.

All-in-all, I am surprised the Aerosan is not mentioned more in historical text or popular literature beyond a ubiquitous “motorized sled”, this book, the effort of the writers, and the vehicle are not ubiquitous and deserve more attention. At least a model of the RF-8-GAZ-98 on pages 40-41 or the “hot rod” on page 79 should be considered.

This book is perfect for both children and adults.