Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini’s Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa
Ian W. Walker

This wonderful book tells the story of the Italian armoured troops, from it’s birth during World War One to the surrender in North Africa on the 12 May 1943. The book mainly follows the actions of the three Italian armoured divisions in North Africa: the Ariete, the Littorio and the Centauro division. The title, in Italian Ferrea Mole, Ferrea Cuore, was the motto of the Italian tank crews. The author points out that it is also symbolical to the courage shown by Italian tank crews facing superior forces in inferior tanks. The book has a very good balance between telling the story of the various battles and analyzing the Italian strategy, tactics but also the co-operation with German forces. The good balance brings the reader an overall view and understanding while the battle accounts gives an insight into the battles that the Italian armoured formations saw as well as the suffering and experiences gone through by the Italian tank crews. The battle accounts are very detailed, revealing tank types, losses and so on. From time to time quotes from Italian and Allied participants are also brought in.

It contains side view drawings of the various Italian tanks made by Walker himself, also to be found are maps, organizational tables, production charts, a tank weaponry performance chart and over forty photographs. The maps are a bit of a disappointment, being very crude ones. It would have been better if a professional had made them.

The author has made use of some Italian material when writing the book although mostly it is English literature; some being translated German and Italian writings.

In the end Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts is a magnificent book. It is highly recommendable to those interested in the North African theatre as well as Italian armour.

(Reviewed by Daniel L)

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