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BOOK REVIEW: Selous Scouts: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists - Revised Edition

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Selous Scouts: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists - Revised Edition (Africa at War 38)

by Dr. J. R. T. Wood

Softcover (Oversized at 8.25x11.75 inches). 64 pages.

 

The Scouts were Rhodesian special forces troops trained for deep penetration missions. Named after Frederick Selous, a clever special forces soldier in Africa in WWI (p3) the Scouts took the name after a later armored car regiment disbanded (p19). These troops used a SEAL-like training program, complete with carried log, to whittle down applicants to only the toughest. Oddly enough, the successful unit only lasted six years (p27) when a political settlement occurred to share power in Rhodesia.

The book contains 143 black and white photos, two black and white maps, 24 color photos, three color maps, three color vehicle profiles, two color helicopter profiles, and one color aircraft profile. The 'revised' part includes the color profiles.

This generally covers how the unit trained and operated more than the details of skirmishes and battles, but there's enough to sort out a scenario or two.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Africa  Modern 

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BOOK REVIEW: German U-Boat Aces: Karl-Heinz Moehle, Reinhard Hardegen, and Horst von Schroeter -- The Incredible Patrols of U-123 in World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: German U-Boat Aces: Karl-Heinz Moehle, Reinhard Hardegen, and Horst von Schroeter -- The Incredible Patrols of U-123 in World War II

by Luc Braeuer

Hardback (Oversized at 9.25x12.25 inches). 80 pages.

 

From 1940 to 1944, U-123 prowled the Atlantic Ocean under the command of one of these three captains and sunk 300,000+ tons of Allied shipping.

Using log entries and photos from the U-Boat Archiv, plus additional photos from the personal album of its U-123 IWO, Lt. Schuler, Braeuer writes a captivating tale of all 12 patrols, with all the details of headings, depths, and tactics (lone and wolfpack) used by the captains during their approaches, firings, and escapes.He also goes that extra step and confirms and clarifies Allied ships the captains claimed were sunk, but actually were not.

U-123 was decommissioned on June 17, 1944 and survived the war in a submarine pen in Lorient (France). It was turned over to the French, renamed Blaison, and decommissioned on August 18, 1959. Used for target practice, it was sunk on September 10, 1959.

By the way, von Schroeter took command of a Type XXI U-boat, U-2506, on August 31, 1944, and apparently never had an operational career. Von Schroeter surrendered U-2506 to the British in Bergen (Norway) on May 9, 1945 (p75). Type XXI production and patrols are the theme for the solitaire boardgame mentioned earlier in this AAR.

The book contains 219 black and white photos, 13 color photos, 5 black and white maps, and one color painting of U-123. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Submarines  warships  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: US Landing Craft of WWII, Volume 1: The LCP(L), LCP(R), LCV, LCVP, LCS(L), LCM, and LCI

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: US Landing Craft of WWII, Volume 1: The LCP(L), LCP(R), LCV, LCVP, LCS(L), LCM, and LCI (Legends of Warfare Series)

by David Doyle

Square book (9 3/8 by 9 3/8 inches) contains 138 black and white photos, 32 color photos, and eight specification tables covering US landing craft.
The captions explain various capabilities and items among the many variants of each model, from the pre-war 'Eureka' boats to the end-of-war workhorses of beach landings.


Per usual with the series, the photo captions (along with the charts) explain differences between the models, including the wide variety of camouflage patterns. Modelers will revel in the detailed looks, including LCM(3)s that held one tank and up to 60 troops and the larger LCM(6) that held one tank and up to 80 troops. The LCM(6) was altered to be a gunship (p69) or a launcher of about 400 4.5-inch rockets (p68). Some color photos are contemporary while most are of boats in the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  warships  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: SBD Dauntless: Douglas's US Navy and Marine Corps Dive-Bomber in World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: SBD Dauntless: Douglas's US Navy and Marine Corps Dive-Bomber in World War II (Legends of Warfare: Aviation)

by David Doyle

Hardback (9 3/8 by 9 3/8 inches). 128 pages.

Another nice edition in the pictorial series covers the classic WWII dive bomber with 138 black and white photos, 79 color photos, and one specification table of the six versions of the aircraft.

Includes close-ups of various systems, including full cockpit and dashboard views, and captions that point out subtle differences between models, markings, and equipment. Also covers US Army version (designated A-24 Banshee) and the differences from Navy versions.

No combat recaps or pilot memories, but like the other books in the series, it's a modeler's delight. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Trieste Crisis 1953: The First Cold War Confrontation in Europe

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: The Trieste Crisis 1953: The First Cold War Confrontation in Europe (Europe at War 1) by Bojan Dimitijevic Softcover (Oversized at 8.25x11.75 inches). 72 pages.

Excellent background and military comparison of the Western confrontation with Tito's Yugoslav Army over the city of Trieste from the end of WWII to the mid 1950s. Trieste is a bit like Berlin in reverse, where the Western Allies control the majority of the city and the Yugoslav contingent is limited to about 2,000 troops.

Although some border incidents occurred that claimed lives on both sides, including the deliberate downing of US C-47s by Yak-1s, the stare-down never escalated into a war. However, if you ever needed a what-if scenario, the crisis is tailor-made and the book provides extensive OOBs for both sides.Oddly enough, for a time the US sent military aid to Yugoslavia, so any showdown would include the Western forces fighting against P-47s Thunderbolts, F-84 Thunderjets, M-47 Patton tanks, PT-Boats, and other 'Allied' equipment from WWII and early Cold War -- besides the stocks of T-34 tanks, IL-2 Sturmoviks, and other WWII Soviet equipment.

The 120 black and white photos, primarily from Yugoslav sources, show the mix, including most Yugoslav troops outfitted with captured German helmets and belts -- you can repurpose your WWII German, British, Italian, and US troops. Eight vehicle, four uniform, and nine aircraft color profiles offer a guide for painting and markings.

About the only thing missing is a good map -- the 1:750,000 color map helps, but a smaller scale centered on the Trieste area, especially when it comes to defining the important Zone A and Zone B boundaries, would be far better in defining this relatively obscure (at least to me) crisis of the Cold War. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  Modern 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Normandy Air War 1944

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: The Normandy Air War 1944 (Images of War)

by Anthony Tucker-Jones

Softcover. 132 pages.

The title is a bit of a misnomer in another volume of the pictorial series. The aircraft in focus within the pages range far afield from Normandy in 1944, including heavy bomber raids on Ploesti and elsewhere in the Reich as well as a German bomber offensive against England. That nitpick aside, most of the images concern Allied aircraft performing tactical bombing from D-Day through the Falaise Gap. Per usual, text is relatively sparse, providing just enough of an overview of the various topics such as strategic bombing, tactical bombing, lack of Luftwaffe sorties, and so on.

All told, it contains 158 black and white photos and two black and white illustrations. Some great photos within. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  Normandy  Western Front  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Tank Wrecks of the Western Front 1940-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Tank Wrecks of the Western Front 1940-1945 (Images of War)

by Anthony Tucker-Jones

Softcover. 130 pages.

 

A companion book of sorts to Tank Wrecks of the Eastern Front 1941-1945, this volume in the series contains 151 black and white photos organized generally by tank families: H-35, R-35, S-35, Char B, Vickers Mk VI, Matilda, Churchill, Sherman, and Pz I, II, III, IV, V, VI. It generally covers France '40, Western Europe, and Battle of the Bulge, but not Italy, Norway, or North Africa.

Oddly enough, a few uncharacteristic typos are within, such as Loan instead of Laon (p32), 'colse' instead of 'close' (p106), and even printed and bound by XXXXX by XXXXX on the copyrights page. The book also has more text than usual, with nice encapsulations of the different models.

Most photos are indeed of wrecks, some spectacular, others mundane, and the rest in a bell curve of destruction. Some show abandoned ‘wrecks,’ but not many, and some photos I've seen before, although most are new to me. Notably, two photos of an American tank wrecks park (p101 and p102) offer up a nice mix of German tanks that eventually ended up as scrap. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Tanks  Western Front  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Paradise Afire: The Sri Lankan War 1971-1987 Volume 1

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Paradise Afire: The Sri Lankan War 1971-1987 Volume 1 (Asia at War 6)

by Adrien Fontanellaz and Tom Cooper

Softcover (Oversized at 8.25x11.75 inches). 72 pages.

 

After a brief history of Sri Lanka (formerly the British colony of Ceylon), the Maoist-centric JVP launched an armed revolution to topple the government.

Although a failure, that spawned an alphabet soup of insurgent groups from the 1960s through the end of the 1980s -- 34, according to Table 5 (p23). Most of these were based in the north, centered around Tamil culture, had few troops, suffered from faction conflicts, and were easily penetrated and crushed. However, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) hung around the longest, garnered material support and a safe zone for training camps from a Tamil-dominated state in India, and posed the greatest danger to the government.

The book contains 81 black and white photos, seven black and white illustrations, three color photos, four black and white maps, one color map, six color vehicle profiles, one color helicopter profile, 11 color aircraft profiles, and 10 tables.

Skirmish scenarios abound within the pages. Judging by the uniforms in the photos, you can use insurgent figures for any other groups. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Modern 

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BOOK REVIEW: Caudron Renault CR.714 Cyclone: The Ultimate Story

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Caudron Renault CR.714 Cyclone: The Ultimate Story

by Bartlomiej Belcarz, Marek Rys, Kari Stenman, and Franciszek Strzelczyk

Hardback (oversized at 12 x 8.5 inches). 456 pages.

 

The subtitle says 'The Ultimate Story' and I agree 100% with that description. WWII contains all sorts of aircraft that didn't see huge production numbers and the CR.714 is one of them.

Devised from a speedy racing aircraft, it performed miserably as a combat aircraft, in part because it was so shoddily produced. The French discarded it to refugee Polish pilots as a training plane, but when promised French fighters didn't arrive, the Poles flew the CR.714s against the Germans in 1940. Brave lads, indeed.

Not many were made, but some air to air scenarios include ME-110s vs CR.714s (p234) and ME-109s escorting DO-17s vs intercepting CR.714s (p238-241). Any sort of campaign game should include a generous die roll for breakdowns.

The book contains 704 black and white photos, 363 color photos (mostly various parts of a CR.714 being restored in Poland), 30 scale plans (mostly 1/72nd and 1/48th scale of various versions), 88 color profiles (including Finland, German, French, and Polish variations), 53 3D illustrations of various systems, 1 black and white map, 7 color maps, 26 black and white illustrations, 19 color illustrations, and 21 charts. For modelers, a color palette with 30 color swatches is in an appendix, along with a chart with NCS and FS595 color equivalents and for all you computer illustrators, the hexadecimal equivalents.

For aviation buffs who seek a thorough examination of an obscure aircraft, this is the ultimate reference book.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: War Photographer Volume 1.1

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, January 24, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: War Photographer Volume 1.1

by Vyacheslav Kozitsyn

Softback (oversized at 12 x 8.5 inches). 64 pages.

 

The 100 black and white photos within were taken by an unidentified German soldier assigned to Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 191 and cover from 1940 and its initial posting in Romania to 1943 Soviet Union, with the invasion of Greece in between. Just about all of the photos show the unit behind the lines, stops along lines of march, prepping for battle, and moving past the wrecks of previous victorious battles.

The book offers a delight for STuG III modelers and dioramists with many shots, with captions, of various versions. It contains no specs, memoirs, or other scenario information.

One unusual photo (p16) from March 1941 is of a bivouac for the battery of six STuG IIIs and its attendant vehicles: 3 motorcycles, 3 motorcycles with sidecars, 2 sedans, 19 trucks, 7 half tracks, 1 STuG IIIB, and 9 other vehicles. I may have missed one while squinting at the photo. The tooth to train for this one battery is 1:6 -- think about that when you're simulating the unit moving across the tabletop.

Other notables include camouflaged assault guns in July 1941 (p29), three photos of a wrecked Soviet armored train in 1942 (p48), and a field repair after running over a mine (p38).

Enjoyed looking through the photos.

Tags:  Vehicles  WW2  WWII 

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