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BOOK REVIEW: French Bombers of WWII: White Series

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: French Bombers of WWII: White Series

by Jose Fernandez and Patrick Laureau

To call this a 'specification' book does Fernandez and Laureau an injustice. To call it a 'camouflage and markings' book doubles that injustice. To call it an 'air combat' book triples that injustice. French Bombers of WWII combines all three of these into a single, well-written volume on a subject most WWII histories skip over.

The 26 bombers each gets full descriptions of design and development, prototypes, modifications, specs, and WWII service. Each garners a plethora of black and white photos and color camouflage profiles. How many in total? 334 photos (handful in color), 132 profiles, 72 scale drawings (most at a little less than 1cm = 1m, others at a little more than 1cm = 1m, and some at 1.5cm = 1m -- seems like the drawings were expanded or shrunk to fit the page instead kept at the same scale), and a handful of other black and white illustrations. Most photos are in French patterns, but some are shown with German and Italian markings, and even a few in Finnish, Romanian, and Spanish Civil War markings. I may have missed one or two in my count, but you get the idea.

Better yet, some of the photos are paired with profiles so you see the aircraft in black and white and then in color.

This also includes French purchases of imported bombers such as Glenn Martin 167F and Douglas DB-7, bomber training aircraft, and a couple prototypes only. After the armistice, many ended up in German and Italian hands and service. Others were flown to Africa. There's a full Order of Battle by squadron for May 10, 1940 and June 4, 1940 for those with campaign ideas.

Of news to me is the SNCAC NC 223 nicknamed the Jules Verne that took off from Bordeaux on June 6, 1940, flew along the coast, across Denmark, into the Baltic Sea, and then angled back to bomb Berlin with eight 250kg bombs, 80 10kg incendiary bomblets, and the shoes of flight engineer Corneillet (lost in the moment, he tossed them out when they ran out of bombs). They angled back across Germany to land at Paris. That's a 13.5 hour flight (p116).

The French had their own gull-winged dive-bombing attack aircraft, the Loire-Nieuport LN.411, built for the Navy and intended for the trio of French aircraft carriers (Joffre and Painleve on paper only -- p282). The Germans captured 12 and the Italians captured 15 of the 411s, however, all but two of the Italian aircraft were scrapped due to lack of spare parts (p190).

The Germans weren't particularly known four-engine bombers, with the HE-177 (two engines back to back in each wing) and the pressed into service FW-200. However, they also had a captured French Bloch MB 162 prototype bomber in service with I/KG 200. It's fate is unknown (p275).

There's more information, always interesting and often surprising, about French bombers and actions, throughout this book. Indeed, modelers will revel in the profiles, but buffs of obscure air actions will enjoy the text as much as the photos and profiles.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

by Anthony Everitt.

Superb writing paired with excellent research, along with a skeptic's eye for some of the stories and a flair for filling in gaps in the ancient records make this a marvelous biography of Imperator Augustus Caesar. The bio creates a mesmerizing tale of a teenager with a famous and beloved uncle, Julius Caesar, but with little experience, rising to the challenge of not only keeping his life, but scheming his way to the pinnacle of power -- and staying there. Smarts, courage, and ruthlessness combined to aid his rise, along with the timely intervention of others and a certain amount of good fortune whenever he made potentially disastrous political and social mistakes. The chapters on the civil war are especially incisive.

Battles are downplayed in favor of politics, for Augustus excelled at political maneuvers rather than military ones, aided by two loyal boyhood friends Agrippa and Macraenus. Augustus stumbled, and sometimes badly, but always managed to stay close to the apex of power until he seized it and never let it go.

You may have appreciated the screenwriter's twists and turns in I Claudius, but that TV series has nothing on the reality of the era as presented by Everitt. Brilliant book.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Ancient 

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BOOK REVIEW: Challenger 2: Photosniper 30

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Challenger 2: Photosniper 30

by Dick Taylor.

Another fine photo-infused profile of the series covers the British tank in rivet-counting glory. Oversized at 8.3x11.7 inches, the softcover book contains 196 color photos plus six color profiles (four UK and two Omani camouflage schemes).

Text describes the Challenger 2's design and development, from the prototypes up through the deployed tanks. Every once in a while, you get little gems of information that makes a wargamer wonder. For example: "Experience of ammunition fires during WW2 led to the adoption of the policy...of stowing the propellant charges below the turret ring in the hull inside armored containers, meaning that they are much less likely to be hit than if they were in the turret -- which traditionally takes 2/3 of the hits." (p.31)

The book is meant as a photo guide, so no footnote or bibliography, but I wonder about the source.

In any case, you get photos from all sides, including one showing the bottom of an overturned tank. TO&E information for regiment and squadron level is also in there (p.34). All the camouflage patterns you'd expect are inside, including a photo of 'light stone' camouflage (p.72), presumably for the desert.

Tags:  Modern  Tanks 

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BOOK REVIEW: Flashpoint Russia: Russia's Air Power - Capabilities and Structure

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Flashpoint Russia: Russia's Air Power - Capabilities and Structure

by Piotr Butowski.

If you want up-to-the-minute, squadron-by-squadron info about Russian air power by aircraft type, here's your resource guide. No bibliography was included, so I'm not sure where he obtained his information except for a mention of Google Earth satellite images for stationing of units at various airbases. I run across some of this information in Jane's Defense Weekly, so if I have to guess, that and other Russian press releases are probably a start, mixed with various US and European intelligence publications and websites. I may do Butowski a disservice, but without a bibliography, it's a best guess on sources.

That said, he offers an extensive guide to Russian air capabilities, with an OOB and TO&E of the various Russian Air Force, Navy, and FSB units, complete with 91 color photos of aircraft and helicopters and 11 color maps showing air bases. Most of it is dry, just the facts ma'am text, but it all seems a comprehensive survey of Russian capabilities.

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BOOK REVIEW: US Army Vehicles Markings: 1944

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: US Army Vehicles Markings: 1944

by Jean Bouchery and Philippe Charbonnier.

If this isn't the definitive guide to US Army vehicles markings in 1944, any contender will be hard pressed to top this collection of 324 black and white photos (handful in color) and 396 color illustrations (for placement purposes on bumpers, sides, tops, etc., with most of these bumper markings paired with photos). Plus, TO&E charts, use and allocation for each type of vehicle, a chapter on camouflage patterns with 41 color illustrations, and a couple of charts that list all organic units (regts, bttns, and some lower level formations) within the US Army by division (but not including temporary attachment units).

For wargamers with a spray can, this is overkill, but for modelers who want to get everything right, at least for 1944 US Army in Europe, this book offers a one-stop encyclopedia of markings. With a little imagination and some of the broader based explanations of markings, you can alter the markings to represent just about any unit in theater. Impressive. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Tanks  Vehicles  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Gloster Gladiator: Mk I and II (And Sea Gladiators) - Monographs # 65 (3rd edition)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Gloster Gladiator: Mk I and II (And Sea Gladiators) - Monographs # 65 (3rd edition)

by Adam Cotton and Marek Rys.

The first 96 pages of this 216-page examination of the Gloster Gladiator biplane consists of a detailed history, including extensive air battles with Italian and German aircraft that would make a considerable number of tabletop scenarios. Inserted within the history portion are 119 black and white photos. After the text comes 155 3D drawings of various systems and subsystems, 22 3D 'walkaround' drawings of the aircraft, and 18 color profiles showing camouflage patterns and markings (including in other countries' service than UK).

The most famous Gloster Gladiators were nicknamed Faith (aircraft N5520), Hope (N5519), and Charity (N5531), the story being they were the only three Gladiators to defend Malta against all comers. The reality is somewhat different, with a fourth plane nicknamed Desperation (N5522) that was used for spare parts and quite a number of non-nicknamed, or at least non-famous nicknamed, Gladiators (including Sea Gladiators) that defended the island just as zealously. Incidentally, Faith was rescued in 1943 and partially restored (p60), although what happened to it after that is not mentioned.

If you're interested in Gloster Gladiators, and especially if one or more are on your painting table, here's your book. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Chieftain: British Cold War Main Battle Tank - TankCraft 15

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Chieftain: British Cold War Main Battle Tank - TankCraft 15

by Robert Jackson.

Primarily for modelers, this 64-page 8.375x11.75-inch softcover book contains a total of 216 photos and illustrations detailing the tank. Inside, 32 pages cover design and development work, production, contemporary tanks, and a history of use in Europe and elsewhere -- all with 88 black and white photos. The chapter In Service and In Action describes European training maneuvers, and of interest to tabletop wargamers, actions during the Iran-Iraq war and during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that would make a good scenario or two.

The 24-page modeling section contains 96 color photos of mostly 1/35 scale models that have been built and painted with camouflage, plus some 1/72 scale information. A separate 8-page section offers color profiles, with each page holding a top view, side view, front view, and rear view.

If the Chieftain is on your tabletop, here's the book for understanding its insides and outsides. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Cold War Era  Tanks 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Cavalry Regiments of Frederick the Great 1756-1763

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: The Cavalry Regiments of Frederick the Great 1756-1763

by Gunter Dorn and Joachim Engelmann.

This oversized 9.5x12.25-inch book published in 1989 profiles 70 cavalry regiments -- Cuirassier Regiments 1 - 13, Dragoon regiments 1 - 12, and Hussar Regiments 1 - 10 -- of the Prussian army during the Seven Years War.

Each regiment receives a page and a half of text outlining the history of the regiment from its founding to, generally, the Napoleonic period, although sometimes longer, with emphasis on the 7YW. The prose is workmanlike, with dry recitations of battles fought, casualties, officers, depots, and movements.

However, its lure is contained in the illustrations of each regiment, with one figure dismounted on the ground and a second figure mounted. These, too, are workmanlike instead of photorealistic, but additional details are added, including saddles, flags, facings, and equipment.

I suspect if you like this book, you'll also want what I would call a companion book, Infantry Regiments of Frederick the Great.

For those painting up Frederick the Great's cavalry regiments, here's your one-stop book for color details.

Tags:  Seven Years War 

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BOOK REVIEW: Operation Drvar: Facsimile Report May 25, 1944

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Operation Drvar: Facsimile Report May 25, 1944

edited by Branislav Radovic.

This English translation of a German war reporter's first-hand account of the German operation to capture Marshal Tito on May 25, 1944 is rather short on details, but long on purple prose.

The propaganda is what it is, with 10 pages of text, 15 pages of black and white photos of the operation (33 photos), 14 pages of enlargements of some of the previous photos (14 photos), and five pages of additional black and white photos of SS Fallschirmer Battalion 500/600 (6 photos). The original German report is included.

An OOB of German and partisan forces is included. As it turns out, the Germans captured three British war correspondents sent to glorify Tito, who successfully escaped and was airlifted to Bari (Italy).

Tags:  Balkans  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: M3A1 Scout Car: The US Army's Early World War II Reconnaissance Vehicle

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: M3A1 Scout Car: The US Army's Early World War II Reconnaissance Vehicle (Legends of Warfare: Ground series)

by David Doyle.

With its front end reminiscent of a half track, the M3A1 Scout Car served in the US and 17 other countries. A total of 21,175 were built, with 10,975 sent to those 17 countries (UK with 6,997, USSR with 3,340, and the rest to 15 other countries), from 1939 to the end of production in April 1944.

This book offers 184 black and white photos of the M2A1 and successor M3A1, most of them covering pre-war years. Most photos came from the National Archives, Library of Congress, and the Patton Museum. Many show variations, such as various canvas tops, the 37mm gun, Patton's two-star M3A1 during the 1941 Tennessee Maneuvers, and more.

In addition, 22 color photos, taken by the author, of fully restored M3A1 Scout Cars offer up painting schemes and markings. Captions describe the vehicle and accoutrements.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Vehicles  WW2  WWII 

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