THE RED ARMY ON PARADE 1917-45. James Kinnear. Canfora Books 2018. ISBN 978 91 982325 8 5
1941. Stalin looks down from Lenin’s Mausoleum on to a snowy Red Square as the latest T-34 medium and KV heavy tanks roll past. The German Army is already in the Moscow suburbs and loaded with ammunition the tanks leave the other end of the Square for the front. Designated as an “operation” under wartime adversities this is one of the most famous parades. Early Soviet parades after the Revolution featured only a few AFVs, mostly imported or vehicles captured in the Civil War that followed. In subsequent decades the parades featured home produced vehicles, at first based on imported technology, but then increasingly totally indigenous designs as industrialization progressed rapidly. By the 1930s the tradition of twice-yearly parades had become firmly established featuring huge displays of massed infantry, military vehicles and air force flypasts. So rapid was development that usually completely new weapons were exhibited in successive parades – a trend only broken in the pre-Barbarossa years when the most modern tanks were kept hidden. Other notable parades include the June1945 Moscow VE Parade which included nearly 2000 military vehicles and guns, and 1945 Berlin Allied Victory Parade where the surprise IS-3 heavy tank had a huge impact on Allied delegations – an appearance that may be dubiously credited with beginning the Cold War Arms Race. The book has hundreds of often spectacular illustrations of the participating AFVs, trucks, guns and gun towing tractors, not just in Moscow but other parades in the USSR, including the lesser known VJ Parades in Eastern cities. Each parade is described, with the concurrent internal and global events of the time, and including anecdotes and interesting related stories. The author and his fellow contributors have assembled a very impressive collection of material of military parades that few are privileged to see. Highly recommended. Thanks to Canfora for the review sample.
John Ham. March 2018.