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BOOK REVIEW: Gettysburg: Culp's Hill & Cemetery Hill

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, February 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Gettysburg: Culp's Hill & Cemetery Hill

by Harry W. Pfanz. Hardback. 507 pages.

Excellent account of the 'fishhook' battles from the advance through Gettysburg through the dusk-night attack and then the next day attack. Gritty details, commander intentions, thoughtful analysis, and smooth prose make this an interesting read. Enjoyed it.

Of personal interest, Union General Henry Lockwood, undoubtedly one of my ancestors somewhere in the family tree, commanded a fire brigade of sorts. He was sent with two regiments to counterattack rebels on Cemetery Hill, then turned around and sent back into quasi reserve. The next day, he was sent back into the fray at Culp's Hill with three regiments.

Of note, he had no field command experience, but in the convoluted way of seniority in the ACW, had he been officially attached to the division assigned to the fishhook, he would have out-seniored them all and been put in command. Thankfully, Union high command created a legal fiction of an 'independent command' and so could allow the generals who had fought at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, not Lockwood, to wield this part of the Union Army. Although you might wonder about the merits of such experience, putting Lockwood in charge of the fishhook may very well have led to Union disaster. Certainly, my gaming buddies shudder every time I'm put in charge of a flank tabletop command. There you go. History repeats itself…

Tags:  American Civil War 

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BOOK REVIEW: Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, February 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War

by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen. Hardback.

I've enjoyed Forstchen's work since his BatteTech days and this book offers much the same attention to battle details and tactics as his sci-fi work. I have no idea why Gingrich is associated with the book, except perhaps name recognition. This novel posits Longstreet's outflanking to the south of the Roundtops.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  American Civil War  Historical Fiction 

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BOOK REVIEW: Tupolev TU-4: The First Soviet Strategic Bomber

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, February 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Tupolev TU-4: The First Soviet Strategic Bomber

by Yelim Gordon, Dmitry Komissarov, and Vladimir Rigmant. Hardcover (Oversized at 8.75x11.25 inches). 240 pages.

During WWII, four US B-29s damaged on bombing runs over Japan and China flew into the USSR and were interned, as the Soviets were not at war with Japan. When the USSR declared war on Japan, the Soviets returned a fifth B-29. Led by Andrey Tupolev, the Soviets reverse engineered the B-29 over the next two years and the TU-4 made its maiden flight on May 21, 1947. Ultimately, 1,296 TU-4s were built from 1948-1953 (p74) and the plane remained in Soviet service until 1964.

Much of the book details the fascinating reverse engineering process, including solving a variety of metallurgy, plastics, and precision manufacturing problems.

One big help -- an Italian engineer working for Boeing whose KGB-paid brother delivered two suitcases full of manuals and blueprints (p50).
The only Soviet combat missions were during the 1956 Hungarian revolt when it ferried in troops and supplies and ferried out coffins (p193). The only combat bombing mission the TU-4 performed was in Chinese service when it bombed Taiwan (p210).

The book details pretty much everything you wanted to know about the TU-4, including technical information, subsystems, multitude of variations, Cold War service, Chinese use, one-off prototypes, and unbuilt projects. It contains 395 black and white photos, 49 black and white illustrations, 31 color profiles, one color illustration (atomic bomb), and 31 color photos.

You can't ask more from an aircraft profile book. Enjoyed it.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Air  Cold War Era 

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BOOK REVIEW: Through Adversity: Britain and the Commonwealth's War in the Air 1939-1945 - Volume 1

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, February 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Through Adversity: Britain and the Commonwealth's War in the Air 1939-1945 - Volume 1

by Ben Kite. Hardcover. 507 pages.

Overview of the WWII air war through British eyes offers a bit about strategy and technology and a considerable amount of first-person accounts. The book covers the main efforts at Battle of Britain, Malta, and some of the Pacific, plus the start of the bomber offensive into France, Italy, and Germany. It includes 167 black and white photos, six illustrations, and 15 color maps.

Air scenarios abound, including one of the more fascinating accounts of a Sunderland with a couple extra unauthorized MGs being attacked by eight JU-88s (p309-314) and not only living to tell the tale, allegedly shooting down two before limping away to perform a forced landing on the Cornwall coast. Alas, the plane was destroyed by waves overnight, but what a scenario that would make.

Also interesting was an excerpt from a March 30, 1942 report to Churchill (p 204) of calculations about the number and efficiency of aircraft bomb tonnage needed for effective terror bombing of 58 cities of the Reich.

The first-person accounts, while initially interesting, tended to overwhelm the rest, but if you want lots of stick handling and tracer squirting, this is your book

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: UNEF: The Yugoslav Contingent: Yugoslav Army Contingent in the Sinai Peninsula 1956-1967 (Middle East at War 25)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, February 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: UNEF: The Yugoslav Contingent: Yugoslav Army Contingent in the Sinai Peninsula 1956-1967 (Middle East at War 25)

by Bojan Dimitrijevic. Softcover (8.25x11.75 inches). 64 pages.

Yugoslavia sent a reconnaissance battalion for UN peacekeeping duties in the Sinai from 1956 to 1967, joining Colombia, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Indian troops to patrol the border between Egypt and Israel. In 1956, they followed the Israeli withdrawal after the 1956 war and in 1967 they got out of the way of the Israeli advance in the Six Day War.

The book mostly details the in between, as the troops acclimated to desert conditions, with 151 black and white photos, one black and white illustration, five black and white maps, one organization chart, 12 color photos, 1 color map, three color vehicle profiles, and five tables.

Tags:  Arab-Israeli Wars  Balkans  Cold War Era  Middle East 

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BOOK REVIEW: Operations in North Africa and the Middle East 1939-1942: Tobruk, Crete, Syria and East Africa

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, February 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Operations in North Africa and the Middle East 1939-1942: Tobruk, Crete, Syria and East Africa

Complied by John Grehan and Martin Mace. Hardback. 312 pages.

The sub-sub-head notes this is a Despatches from the Front book, which means the 'authors' compiled "The Commanding Officers' Reports from the Field and at Sea." It contains the original, unedited documents submitted by Generals Wavell and Auchinlek from August 1939 to August 1942 to the Secretary of State for War in London.

History in their own words is a great idea and these despatches offer a C-in-C's eye view of the early years of World War II. Of course, you have to interpret the lines a bit, for these despatches often offer an optimistic appraisal of the situation, even as the Allies were kicked out of Greece, Crete, and much of the Western Desert. On the other side, operations were generally successful in Syria, Iraq, Persia, and other Middle East locales.

Still, the information and insight woven throughout the pages proves a valuable lesson in thinking about more than Rommel's tanks wandering in front of Tobruk. The British worried constantly about Turkey, the oilfields in Iran/Iraq, the attitude of the Vichy French in Syria, and the pro-Axis attitude of the Arabs in the Middle East. As the Japanese conquered the Asia-Pacific area, British angst about more of their territory, including India, being conquered or threatened increased. Read between the lines here and you get that sinking feeling during the dark days of 1941.

The bureaucracy is pretty staggering, with a particularly enlightening passage (p86) of all the committees that needed consulting over matters in the Middle East and Western Desert. And yes, the generals do mention specific individuals in despatches for special praise.

Lots of small details are also included, including supply lines that noted the railroad head was 130 miles from the frontier or roughly twice the usual accepted distance (p164) and that a constructed rail line had a carrying capacity of about 2700 trucks (p165). I enjoyed reading about the 85th Camouflage Company of the South African Engineering Corps -- the first and only camouflage company in the Middle East -- that created two battalions of static dummy tanks and two battalions of mobile dummy tanks (p111). Model that on a tabletop!

It's an illuminating and interesting high-level look at the war in the desert and Middle East. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Middle East  North Africa  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: German Super Heavy Panzer Projects of World War II: Wehrmacht Concepts & Designs

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: German Super Heavy Panzer Projects of World War II: Wehrmacht Concepts & Designs

by Michael Frohlich.

Hardback (Oversized at 8.75x11.25 inches). 176 pages.

Forget the Lowe and Maus supertanks and forget the E-100. Although all these designs are covered in this book, especially the E-100 prototype captured by the Allies, you've got to think bigger than big.

The largest design, a P-1000 as shown on the cover, weighs in at about 1,100 tons. That is not a typo: a thousand-plus ton tank. The one on the cover, for example, sports a pair of 280mm guns in a ship turret and a quartet of 128mm guns on the sides. Other versions of this mobile fortress have additional 128mm guns and 88mm guns. An illustrated series of tank designs examines the progression from 5 tons to 1,000 tons.

That and other super-sized tanks receive their due via technical drawings and concept sketches. It's all mind boggling to think that Germany, which had enough problems producing regular-sized tanks, would devote even a minute to designing and building these vehicles. And yet, the book covers the technical problems and solutions of trying to design something so big and yet actually function, including how to ford rivers, how to load the guns, and how to design the engines needed to propel the tracks and systems. Sure, if you can build a ship, you can build a big tank, but it is truly amazing they even tried. A Panzer V, for example, took about 2,000 hours to build, but the P-1000 was estimated to take 16,000 to 17,000 hours (p162).

Better yet, resource allocation and infighting over designs and said resources between Krupp, Porsche, and others get a nice analysis as designs flow through the bureaucracy from 1942 onwards.

The book contains 130 black and white photos, seven color photos, 106 black and white illustrations, 22 tables/charts, and two black and white maps. I've seen Maus/E-100 model kits and I recall a 6mm miniature at some point, but somebody, somewhere should design and offer a 3D printed version of such an Ogre. Some of the Games Workshop Epic-scale miniatures mimic the P-1000 -- it'll do in a pinch. If a proportional drawing within can be trusted, a Maus/E-100 sized tanks is about 3.5 inches long from tip of barrel to back of tank and 1.25 inches tall (the drawing does not include a width -- see the tables for such details). The P-1000 is about 10 inches long and 3.75 inches tall, so, call it three times the size if 10 times the weight.

That's just the tanks. Also included: Grille 17 self-propelled gun, Raumer mine-clearing vehicle, Bar self-propelled heavy howitzer, and Ulrich 1,000-ton armored howitzer. Some 'Russian' designs (by a German designer in the interwar years) are also included.

Those staging what-if scenarios of the war lasting longer (and presumably no atomic bombs) might consider including such tanks. Scratch-building is a possibility using a photographed period model or the scale drawings. The rest of us will find the story behind these designs amazing. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Tanks  Vehicles  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: German Military Vehicles in the Spanish Civil War: A Comprehensive Study of the Deployment of German Military Vehicles on the Eve of WW2

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: German Military Vehicles in the Spanish Civil War: A Comprehensive Study of the Deployment of German Military Vehicles on the Eve of WW2

by Jose Maria Mata, Lucas Molina and Jose Maria Manrique, With the Photo Collection of J. M. Campesion

Hardback. 231 pages.

Originally published in Spanish in 2015, this 2020 English translation by Steve Turpin White offers 406 black and white photos, eight black and white illustrations, one black and white map, 15 black and white illustrations, 12 color photos, 12 color plates, and 18 tables. The color section in the middle aids the painters among us.

The black and white photos show tanks, halftracks, automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and just about everything else with wheels, tracks, or both. Extended captions help explain the vehicles in this collection of SCW photos.

The tables cover all the models that the Germans sent. Despite the propaganda, the Germans only sent 122 PzIs to Spain (p71) with German training crews to teach the Spanish how to operate them. Note that four of the tanks were modified to mount an Italian 20mm cannon.

Of note: a detachment with vehicles and a listening device at an airfield (p187) and a deployed fire control director with rangefinder (p189). You don't see those on a tabletop too often!

No specifications or battle actions are included in the book. This is a great SCW modeler's reference -- at least from the German equipment perspective. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Between World Wars  Spanish Civil WarTanks  Vehicles 

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BOOK REVIEW: Creating Scenes for Military Miniatures: Groundwork, Foliage, and Settings

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Creating Scenes for Military Miniatures: Groundwork, Foliage, and Settings

by Kim Jones

Softcover (8.5x11 inches). 64 pages.

 

This 1997 book divides into four how-to, color photo-intensive chapters: bombed out building and brick wall (107 photos), tuft of desert grass and related foliage (48 photos), folding camp chair (53 photos), and a gallery of finished dioramas (21 photos). All projects use generally available items (5 photos). Oddly enough, the cover photograph has nothing to do with the projects within.

The captions provide step-by-step instructions to go along with the photos. My skill level is the equivalent of two left thumbs and the foliage looks too fragile for wargames terrain, but if dioramas are you passion, this book of tips and techniques may help you create larger scenes. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Modeling  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Operation Dingo: The Rhodesian Raid on Chimoio and Tembue 1977 - Revised Edition

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Operation Dingo: The Rhodesian Raid on Chimoio and Tembue 1977 - Revised Edition (Africa at War 35)

by Dr. J. R. T. Wood
Softcover (Oversized at 8.25x11.75 inches). 64 pages.

Recap and analysis of Nov 23, 1977 vertical envelopment by 184 Rhodesian paratroopers, variety of aircraft, and some helicopter gunships against 10,000 Communist guerrillas at Chimoio (Mozambique) plus the Nov 25, 1977 attack on 6,000 Communist guerrillas at Tembue -- with text divided into timed phases. Also covers the politics before and after the raids and details the wide variety of munitions and weaponry available to both sides.

The book contains 132 black and white photos, nine black and white illustrations, seven black and white maps, five color photos, 11 color tactical battle maps, seven color aircraft profiles, two color helicopter profiles, and three color uniform illustrations. The 'revised' part includes amended text and the 12 color profiles/uniforms.


It'd be interesting to see how these lopsided battles would work as wargaming scenarios. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Africa  Modern 

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