Book Review
Key Flight '89
Key Flight '89 The last of the Cold War Exercises of the BOAR
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by: Henk Meerdink [ HENK ]


1989 is a significant year in history, but the monumental events of November and December seem to have been almost forgotten. It was in November 1989 that the Berlin Wall, that most potent border and synonym of the Cold War, crumbled under the weight of the East German people, and thus started the eventual demise of the Warsaw Pact, and the Cold War which had for so long cast it's shadow over Europe.

The Cold War in Europe was largely signified by the deployment of a large NATO army in Germany, in readiness to stop the expected attack of massed Armour from the East. To this effect the NATO Countries held regular, large scale, training exercises in Germany, which took place not only on the exercise ranges, but all over the ordinary countryside, causing considerable damage and mayhem in their wake. Because of this damage and inconvenience, and despite the compensation pay-outs, these massive exercises met a mixed response from the local population. The only people who seemed to be quite happy with the Allied Tank battalions were the local farmers, who would often supplement the crew's rations in return for an 'unfortunate accident' involving a large vehicle and a tumble down chicken coop...

Exercise Key Flight '89

Key Flight '89 was the final large scale, all arms, battle exercise of the British Army in Germany. Soon after, the thread from the Warsaw Pact gone, the NATO Allies France, The Netherlands, Canada and Belgium started to move their troops, and Armour, back to their own Countries, and Britain and the U.S.A. drastically reduced their number of troops stationed in Germany. It was to be only two short years later that most of these were to be deployed to the Gulf Region,
Key Flight '89 was a large scale operation ( much like the American Reforger exercises) designed to test the capability of the relatively new 24 Air Mobile Brigade to deploy from it's bases in Britain, to destroy (or hold) an enemy breakthrough within the operational area of the 1st (UK) Corps. Involving some 10.600 troops, 150 MBT's, 750 other AFV's and 1.800 other vehicles, this was only one of several large exercises in that year. The Exercise was broken up in several sub-exercises, and took place in September 1989.

the book
  • British Special No 9010
  • Author: Carl Schulze
  • Pages: 64
  • Photos: 133 colour photos
  • Language: Complete German and English Text and photo captions
The book is divided into 10 separate 'chapters', although only the first chapter contains text, and the other 9 chapters consist of captioned photos showing the various sub-exercises. The photos are generally of a high quality, having mostly been shot from a 'spectators' viewpoint, and as such are a good reference for weathering of, and adding stowage to, scale models. The majority of the photos are also very valuable references for diorama builders, or modellers who want to add some simple ground work to a base, as there is a wide variety of locations, including barracks hard standing, (forest) tracks, highways and verges, etc.

Introduction to exercise Key Flight '89:
The first 8 pages introduce the exercise in some detail, explaining the background and objectives, and the cohesion with other exercises in German that Summer/Autumn. There are detailed listings of the units involved, the deployment and movements before and during the exercise, all broken down into the various sub-exercises that combined to make Exercise Key Flight '89. This chapter is written in both German and English, using the familiar Tankograd style of German text in the left column, and English in the right column. The text is concise and easy to follow, but the absence any maps is a disappointment, as that would have given a good idea of the scale of this (and similar) operation.

The first photograph chapter starts with 8 pages containing 21 photos, showing mainly vehicles in marching order, loaded down with gear. Some interesting pictures of maintenance, as well as the FV701 Ferret, which at that time was still in use.

Initial Attack:
13 photos over 6 pages showing the initial movements of the 'enemy' forces, which give a good impression of how these operations made much use of the ordinary German road network.

Fighting Withdrawal of the 20 Armoured Brigade:
8 pages with 19 photos, again mainly of a variety of vehicles in the German countryside. Some of the photos are indicating a more urgent attitude, and there is a nice (but possibly staged) photo of a loader from a Chieftain tank, standing in his turret hatch, firing his L37A1 mg freehand at an enemy helicopter.

Bridgehead on the River Leine:
At 5 pages and 9 photos this is a relatively short chapter, and only shows images of Challenger I and Chieftain tanks 'in the field', and two interesting images of a Chieftain AVLB launching a No. 8 bridge over the river Leine.

Attack on Eldagsen:
8 pages and 21 photos, this chapter includes a number of pictures of the soldiers who took part 'in action', as well as more images of Challenger I, Warrior and scorpion AFV's.

Into the Flank:
The shortest chapter at 4 pages, and 9 photos, mainly of the Chieftain and Warrior, but also including another Ferret, and a 1 ton forward control Land Rover Ambulance.

Around the Hainberg:
Not really a chapter, just two photos on a single page, but a nice photo of a heavily camouflaged land Rover Series III.

Blocking Position:
This 7 page chapter comprises 15 photos, and only 2 of those are of tanks. The rest of the photos show a variety of interesting machines, like the little 6x6 'Supacat', the AT105 Saxon, as well as the Lynx and Chinook helicopters that were part of the exercise.

Near Hajen:
The final chapter is 8 pages long, and the majority of the 18 photos in this chapter show the infantry in various stages of deployment, including on the landing zones. The photo of the 'Supacat' with six wounded soldiers (and the driver) shows what this small 6x6 vehicle was capable of.

Highs: High quality photos of various vehicles of the British Army, some now no longer in service, in action in Germany. Great reference for painting, and a fine trip down memory lane for those who served in Germany during the late 1980's.
Lows: No maps.
Verdict: Recommended to modellers and ex-squadies alike.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: British Special 9010
  Suggested Retail: Euro 14.95
  PUBLISHED: Apr 14, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing!
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About Henk Meerdink (Henk)

Copyright 2021 text by Henk Meerdink [ HENK ]. All rights reserved.


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