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BOOK REVIEW: 7th SS Mountain Division Prinz Eugen at War 1941-1945 (Images of War series)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: 7th SS Mountain Division Prinz Eugen at War 1941-1945 (Images of War series)


by Ian Baxter

As with all the books in the series, extended captions provide the information to the rare and often unpublished photos. The 140 black and white photos show the history of the unit, from training in 1941 to the final retreat in 1945, and all the anti-partisan operations in the Balkans in between.

From the minimal overview text, the 7th SS committed genocide at every turn, slaughtering entire villages in an effort to eliminate support for partisans, not to mention the partisans themselves. The book doesn't contain any of those photos. One photo (p101) shows captured partisans.

For the modeler, photos cover 7th SS troops with all types of equipment in all types of weather on the march or at rest. Of note are a half dozen or so photos of Bulgarian troops armed with German tanks. It's another fine volume in the series.

Tags:  Balkans  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless: Single No. 7

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless: Single No. 7

by Dariusz Karnas and Artur Juszczak

Like all the booklets in the Single series, this 24-page booklet contains almost no text -- it's all about the black and white 1/72 and 1/48 scale plans for modelers, illustrations from the technical manuals, and a few color aircraft profiles.

This contains five 1/72 plans, five 1/48 plans, 31 black and white photos (many close-ups), 11 color photos, eight black and white illustrations from the technical manuals showing parts within various subsystems, and three color profiles (left, right, top).

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Messerschmitt ME-410 A-1/U-4: Single No. 8

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Messerschmitt ME-410 A-1/U-4: Single No. 8

by Dariusz Karnas and Krzysztof Woloski

Another in the Single series.

This contains five 1/72 plans, five 1/48 plans, 24 black and white photos (many close-ups), six color photos, 11 black and white illustrations from the technical manuals showing parts within various subsystems, and three color profiles (left, right, top).

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: PZL P.11a: Single No. 9

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: PZL P.11a: Single No. 9

by Dariusz Karnas and Artur Juszczak

Another in the Single series.

This contains six 1/72 plans, six 1/48 plans, 28 black and white photos (many close-ups), two color instrument panel layouts, and three color profiles (left, right, top).

Tags:  Air  Poland  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Emperor's Own: The History of the Ethiopian Imperial Bodyguard Battalion in the Korean War (Asia at War 10)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: The Emperor's Own: The History of the Ethiopian Imperial Bodyguard Battalion in the Korean War (Asia at War 10)

by Dagmawi Abebe

After an overview of Ethiopia being ignored by the League of Nations and conquered by Italy in the 1930s, the Ethiopians responded to US President Harry Truman's call for allies to fight the North Korean invasion by sending the 1st Kagnew Battalion. Ultimately, Ethiopia rotated four Kagnew battalions into the Korean War.

The actions and activities of each battalion get covered in exquisite detail -- page after page of small-unit actions down at the patrol and platoon levels against North Korean and Chinese forces. Scenario ideas pop out in virtually every paragraph in the four main chapters.

If you never heard of this force, you'll be impressed with the detail, which seems taken mostly from official reports, but accentuated with interviews by the participants.

Contains 86 black and white photos, 8 maps, and 1 diagram through the main text. Center section contains four color uniform illustrations, three color vehicle profiles, and 21-photo (black and white and color) subsection with individual soldier photos and four color group photos of veterans' reunion in 2012.

Enjoyed this little known gem of a unit profile.

Tags:  Korean War 

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BOOK REVIEW: Lebanese Civil War: Volume 1 - Palestinian Diaspora, Syrian and Israeli Interventions 1970-1978 (Middle East at War 21)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Lebanese Civil War: Volume 1 - Palestinian Diaspora, Syrian and Israeli Interventions 1970-1978 (Middle East at War 21)

by Tom Cooper and Sergio Santana

This ill-organized volume probably has some pertinent information about a Lebanese Civil War, but you'll have a hard time digging it out from various tangents.

After a history of the Middle East, literally from Neolithic times to today, you get a lot of hodge podge lodge info about the 1950s and 1960s, and then some 1970s, including lots of equipment specs. I never found a narrative regarding events concerning the title years.

Included are 97 black and white photos, seven maps, three color uniform illustrations, six color vehicle profiles, and 12 color aircraft profiles.

Volume 1 lacks focus. Maybe volume 2 will be better.

Tags:  Arab-Israeli Wars  Modern 

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BOOK REVIEW: Blackbeard: The Birth of America

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Blackbeard: The Birth of America

by Samuel Marquis

This historical novel covers the life of pirate Edward Thache, better known as Blackbeard. Although a novel, the bibliography includes primary and secondary sources aplenty to sketch out his character and events -- with the fiction fleshing out all the parts in between.

Although the message that Blackbeard was a 'patriot' working against the English crown becomes a tad repetitive, 'tis a smoothly written novel about the Golden Age of Piracy that keeps the pages turning. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  17th Century  Historical Fiction  Naval  Pirates 

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BOOK REVIEW: Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955 - Volume 1: Military Flying Services in the Arab Countries 1909-1918

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Air Power and the Arab World 1909-1955 - Volume 1: Military Flying Services in the Arab Countries 1909-1918 (Middle East at War 20)

by Dr. David Nicolle and Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr.

Nicolle is better known to me as a middle ages - crusades historian, but I guess he expanded his area of interest.

The book offers a commendable overview of the introduction of the airplane into the Middle East and North Africa, including aircraft used by European powers in the colonies as well as variety of Arab pilots and missions. The longest section covers the Ottoman Empire's aircraft in WWI, including those flown by volunteer German civilian pilots.

Of note, the Germans had problems sending aircraft to Turkey due to neutral Bulgaria and Romania, so they conceived a scheme to ship them in crates marked as Red Cross supplies and circus equipment (p67).

For an obscure WWI air battle scenario, try a Russian Grigorovich M5 flying boat vs. Turkish Deperdussin TT (p71).

Overall, the book contains 134 black and white photos, five color photos, four black and white illustrations, four maps, 15 color aircraft profiles, and three color illustrations. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  WWI 

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BOOK REVIEW: The M-1 Helmet: A History of the U.S. M-1 Helmet in World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, December 16, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: The M-1 Helmet: A History of the U.S. M-1 Helmet in World War II

by Mark A Reynosa

Although an older book from 1996, this is quite the definitive history of the M-1 helmet. Consisting of outer shell and inner liner, from 1941 to 1945, the US produced approximately 43.7 million inner plastic liners were produced (p47), plus another 4 million inner fiber liners (p32), plus 22 million outer steel helmet bodies plus another 540,000 parachutist versions of the helmet (p69).

Full research and development, from the WWI M-1917 helmet to the final M-1 version and all interim models, gets extensive photographic treatment as does the various M-1 construction methods. The M-1 Helmet contains 266 color photos and 112 black and white photos provide all the details, including close-ups of specific belts, buckles, and other items. Those illustrations include helmet camouflage wraps, MP and Medic colorings, and toy and work helmets.

If you're painting wargame figures in the smaller scales, you're unlikely to need this book. As you transition into larger scale for modelers, the color photos help get the straps and other details right.

Of interest: the way manufacturers solved defects in the design that became apparent only after use. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Uniforms  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Tank Battles in East Prussia and Poland 1944-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Tank Battles in East Prussia and Poland 1944-1945

by Igor Nebolsin

Covers the battles of Wilkowyszki, Gumbinnen/Nemmersdorf, Elbing, Wormditt/Frauenburg, and Kielce/Lisow in mind-blowing numerical precision using data primarily from Soviet archives, but including German archival data too. As you can guess from the title, Nebolsin concentrates on tanks and self-propelled guns.

Whereas many battle histories mention units and insert first-person anecdotes that may or may not include numbers, Nebolsin includes every bit of quantitative tank and self-propelled armored vehicle data on a unit-by-unit basis on a virtually a day-by-day basis. Data includes: tanks and self-propelled guns operational and in repair shops; vehicles and material lost, bogged down in marsh, and captured; daily supplies of fuel and ammo; personnel losses and POWs captured; and so on.

Random examples: 'On 15 October 1944 26th Guards Tank Brigade had 1,386 men: 236 officers, 554 non-commissioned officers, and 569 enlisted men. The Tank Brigade had the authorized 65 T-34/85 tanks and was fully equipped with wheeled vehicles.' (p.116)

This was at the start of the battle. After many pages of German data and official Soviet combat reports: 'Over the day of combat on 19 October 1944, the 26th Guards Tank Brigade lost 11 T-34/85 tanks destroyed and 3 T-34/85 tanks knocked out. Manpower losses were 24 men killed...and 40 men wounded. In return, the enemy lost up to 70 soldiers and officers, and 3 tanks, 1 self-propelled gun, 4 anti-tank guns, and two bunkers destroyed. One enemy self-propelled gun and 3 villages were captured.' (p149)

After a couple pages of memoirs, including noting that orders filtered down from 0800 to 1000 on October 20 and artillery prep fire lasted from 1040 to 1100, on comes the result of combat exploits: 'As a result of the combat over the day of 20 October 1944 the 26th Guards Tank Brigade destroyed 13 enemy tanks and self-propelled guns, 8 cannons, two batteries of 88mm Flak guns, 70 vehicles and their loads, and killed up to 100 Nazis. Over the same time, the 26th Guards Tank Brigade lost 11 T-34/85s destroyed and 2 T-34/85s knocked out. Casualties included 16 killed and 23 wounded. By the end of the day, the brigade had 38 operational T-34/85 tanks.' (p 152).

It's all augmented with memoirs, first-person accounts, and anecdotal events to bring a little life into the dry recitation of the numbers. These also provide tactical and operational factoids, including a surprising number of effective air strikes by Stukas still flying in late 1944 and early 1945.

You can pretty much open the book at random and pull out an OOB for a scenario. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's not that far off. If you find yourself in a memoir that reads like Soviet propaganda, then flip forward or back to get to the hard numbers. You can even pick out march rates, combat formations, mine-clearing times, artillery barrage lengths, and other ancillary data for a scenario.

Three points of caution: First, as this comes from Soviet archives, propaganda intrudes. If you don't believe that, consider this excerpt from Combat Report #33 after a successful August 5, 1944 German counterattack: 'Almost all tanks of the 26th Guards Tank Brigade were destroyed by the enemy...I believe there is no basis to put the officers of the 26th Guards Tank Brigade on trial...' (p35-36). What do you think such officers put in their combat diaries?

Sure, the Soviet steamroller was rolling by late 1944 and early 1945 and we all know who took Berlin, but some of the combat report and memoir entries read a little too rosy at times. German generals did the same thing, but you always have to keep an open mind, or healthy skepticism, about some of those pronouncements.

Second, sometimes I wonder about the numbers. I figure Nebolsin reported them accurately, but sometimes, it makes you wonder about what was written into the archives in the first place. For example, Chart 3.3 (p279) listed January 12-18, 1945 Soviet 4th Tank Army losses at 217 tanks, with 98 irrecoverable losses, but Chart 3.4 (p288) lists January 12-18, 1945 Soviet 4th Tank Army losses at 272 tanks, with 77 irrecoverable losses. A couple tanks, no problem, but that discrepancy is about a fully-equipped Tank Brigade worth of tanks. Is somebody in 4th Tank Army tweaking reports for more replacements and spares?

And third, while I applaud offering a central section of 24 color maps, all the maps of tactical operations lack a scale. For example, Map 7 (Gumbinnin battle, October 20, 1944) lacks a scale, so I have no idea of the distance between small villages or hamlets, or how large is the woods between Perkallen and Plicken. Every battle sports a paragraph or two or three about the terrain, and I especially appreciate it when Nebolsin provides a river's width and depth, but a map scale for every map is needed.

Included within are 373 black and white photos and 56 charts/tables -- some of the charts/tables are but a couple rows long but some stretch over multiple pages.

I cannot praise Tank Battles enough for providing numbers, numbers, and more numbers. Sure, sometimes it reads like a compilation of numerical data in paragraph form, but East Front treadheads, especially those with scenarios on the brain, will drool over the detail. I'd like to see an infantry version, too.

Whaddaya say, Igor? Exceptional job. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  Panzer  Tanks  WW2  WWII 

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