Operation Nimrod now available

Operation Nimrod coverOperation Nimrod is now available in paperback, ebook, audio book, and app formats.


The ebook is available from Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Wargame Vault.


The paperback is available from Amazon, Waterstones, and Barnes & Noble.

Audio Book

The audio book is available from Audible and iTunes.


The app is available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.

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AFV Alphabet: T is for Tiger

Tiger 131 at Bovington Tank Museum
Tiger 131 at Bovington Tank Museum

The Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf E might be an obvious choice, but it’s such an iconic vehicle that I decided it deserved a place.

The Tiger was developed in response to Soviet tank designs such as the T-34 and KV-1, which took the Germans by surprise when they invaded in 1941. The Tiger had significantly increased firepower and armour compared to previous vehicles, which led to a dramatic increase in weight to 54 tonnes. This increased weight put a great deal of strain on the automotive components, leading to an increased rate of breakdowns.

The 88mm gun already had a fearsome reputation among Allied tank crews, and the combination of that gun with thick armour (100-120mm at the front) led to the Tiger being feared and respected. The Sherman’s 75mm gun could not penetrate the Tiger’s frontal armour at any range, and could only penetrate the side armour from 100m. The 17 pounder-armed Sherman Firefly, however, could penetrate the frontal armour at 1,000m range.

1,347 Tigers were built (by comparison, over 8,500 Panzer IV and around 6,000 Panthers were produced), but the Tiger’s impact on those who encountered it was out of all proportion to the numbers in which it was fielded. In Western Europe, it was common for any tank sighting to be reported as a Tiger, despite the relatively low number of Tigers compared to other German tanks.

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Win a copy of Operation Nimrod

If you’re on Goodreads, I’m giving away paperback copies of Operation Nimrod. Click here to enter.

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AFV Alphabet: S is for Sexton

Sexton 25-Pounder Self-Propelled Gun Howitzer

By 1942, the British army in North Africa had decided that it needed self-propelled guns, and the hastily-created Bishop self-propelled 25 pounder wasn’t good enough. They had adopted the American M7 Priest, but this was a logistical nightmare, since they were the only vehicles in British service that used a 105mm gun. What the British army really wanted was something like the Priest, but with a 25 pounder instead of a 105mm gun.

The Canadians supplied the answer. They mounted a 25 pounder gun-howitzer on the hull of a Ram tank (Canadian copy of the M3), in a similar mounting to that used on the Priest. After trials, the Canadian government ordered 124 vehicles, and the vehicle was designated “Sexton” in May 1943. Following trials in the UK, the British government ordered 300 vehicles, although these were to be built on the hulls of Grizzly tanks (Canadian copy of the M4A1 Sherman). To distinguish between the two, the Ram-based vehicles were designated Sexton Mark I, and the Grizzly-based vehicles were Sexton Mark II. A Sexton GPO (Gun Position Officer) variant was also built. This had no gun, but an extra radio, map tables, etc, and was used to direct artillery fire.

With the Sexton, the British army finally had a self-propelled 25 pounder that it was happy with. Sextons saw combat in Italy and north-western Europe, including the D-Day landings. It remained in British service until 1956.

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In defence of the Tetrarch

Yesterday, Bovington Tank Museum posted a photo on their Facebook page, of a Tetrarch light tank being loaded onto a Hamilcar glider. I don’t mind admitting that I have something of a soft spot for the Tetrarch, probably because they could be air-landed in a glider.

A couple of comments on the photo caught my eye. I didn’t respond to them, because I’m not really a fan of Facebook in general, and I particularly dislike getting into arguments there. Instead, I decided to use them as prompts for a blog post :)

Tetrarch - Light Tank Mark VII

One person said that the Tetrarch was “obsolete at the start of the war, never mind 1944“. Although I agree that it was obsolete by 1944, I certainly don’t agree that it was obsolete in 1939. It must be remembered that the Tetrarch was a light tank. Its role was reconnaissance, not fighting other tanks. None the less, the Panzer III, which was intended to fight other tanks, had a 37mm main gun, comparable to the Tetrarch’s 2-pounder (40mm). Armour protection on early models of the Panzer III was also comparable to that of the Tetrarch.

A second person suggested that the British would have been better served using Daimler armoured cars instead of the Tetrarch. He notes that the Daimler had similar armour, identical armament, and better performance. On the face of it, this seems like a good point. While I don’t know the actual reasons Tetrarchs were used, I can suggest some possible ones.

First, performance. The Daimler was about 10mph faster on roads. A quick check didn’t reveal how they compared off-road, but tracked vehicles generally perform better than wheeled, so I suspect the Tetrarch’s off-road performance was at least comparable, if not better.

Second, size. The Daimler was 6″ taller and 6″ wider than the Tetrarch. The Tetrarch was a tight fit in the Hamilcar glider, so it’s entirely possible that the Daimler simply wouldn’t fit.

Finally, morale. Tanks, even small ones, are more impressive than armoured cars. The Tetrarchs were landed late on the first day of the Normandy landings. German defenders seeing the tanks wouldn’t necessarily realise that they had been landed by glider. That could lead them to believe that the invasion was progressing at a rapid pace, reducing their morale and their willingness to fight. Conversely, the men landed by glider and parachute would probably get a larger morale boost from having tanks, rather than armoured cars, alongside them, regardless of the actual effectiveness of the two vehicles.

The Tetrarchs were certainly obsolete as tanks by 1944, though probably still better than no armoured support at all. They were all retired in late 1944, replaced by the M22 Locust, a light tank purpose-built to be carried by glider.

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