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BOOK REVIEW: PT Boats: The US Navy's Fast Attack Patrol Torpedo Boats in World War II (Legends of Warfare Series)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: PT Boats: The US Navy's Fast Attack Patrol Torpedo Boats in World War II (Legends of Warfare Series)

by David Doyle

Square book (9 3/8 by 9 3/8 inches) contains 139 black and white photos, 59 color photos, and six specification tables covering PT boats constructed by Elco (77-foot and 80-foot versions), Higgins, Huckins, and Canadian Powerboats.

The captions explain various capabilities and items among the many variants of each model. Many of the photos, especially in the early limited run and prototype models, show the boats under construction. More than many show PT Boats on station during WWII.

For modelers and Cruel Seas gamers seeking accurate paint jobs, the color photos from WWII show camouflage patterns. Of particular interest: the preserved boats with original camouflage patterns -- one at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and the other at Fall River, Massachusetts. For modelers who want a real challenge, two squadrons of PT Boats used a 'zebra' style camouflage pattern -- black and white segments of stripes over the entire ship that looks like optical illusion patterns. The photos of the front, side, and back of such boats should drive painters crazy due to variety of widths, lengths, and off-center patterns. Good luck. One boat (PT-196, as seen on the cover) was painted with shark's teeth.

If your impression of PT Boats centers on McHale's Navy, you'll be surprised by the choices and numbers of armament carried by the various models -- torpedoes, depth charges, 50-cal MGs, 20mm cannon, 37mm cannon, 40mm cannon, rocket launcher firing eight 5-inch rockets, and forward-firing mortar. A Higgins Hellcat experimental boat (p85) featured four remote-operated 50-cal MGs at the bow in addition to the two twin-50-cal MGs on each side of the bridge -- and a 20mm AA cannon on the afterdeck.

Cruel Seas fans who want a reference for PT boats as well as modelers seeking nuanced details will appreciate the hundreds of photos of PT boats. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Naval  warships  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Case White: The Invasion of Poland 1939

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Case White: The Invasion of Poland 1939

by Robert Forczyk

The author wrote the excellent Case Red. In the review for that book, I wrote: 'Well written, well argued, and well received. Enjoyed it.' So, I dove into Case White. Short take? I should just write 'Ditto' ... but it deserves more praise.

From operational recaps for division and regimental units to strategic analysis of leadership excellence and blunders, Case White weaves a superb overview of the 1939 Polish Campaign. International politics gets a nod in terms of military and industrial preparedness, but the emphasis is on the German offensive and the Polish defense (and occasional counterattack).

Troop movements down to division (and often regiment and sometimes battalion) level receive extensive pinpointing, with tactical successes and disasters contributing to German operational superiority. Of particular interest are the critiques of German command decisions throughout the campaign as both sides' untested troops act and react to orders from above. The Soviet attack is also covered as is a brief mention of occupation after the Polish surrender. It all reads quite smoothly.

The 10 black and white maps are rather basic with a variety of scales from 2/3 of an inch equals 10 miles to one inch equals 100 miles. Since Poland (to me) is generally unfamiliar, I'm sometimes at a loss finding towns, so the addition of a numbered map key chronology is a help. Being map greedy, I'd like to see more. Also included are 59 black and white photos and 1 black and white photo of a Polish poster.

Of particular note to wargamers is a complete order of battle for German, Polish, and Soviet forces down to division level, with some regiments. You'll have to pick through the text for numbers per formation. Air Force OOBs include the number and type of aircraft. Naval forces list individual ship types and names.

It's another winner from Forczyk. I can only hope he continues with the color spectrum. Case Blue, Robert? Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  Poland  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Early French Aviation: 1905-1930 (Images of Aviation)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Early French Aviation: 1905-1930 (Images of Aviation)

by Graham M. Simons

A marvelous collection of 227 black and white photos of all sorts of airplanes from 1905-1930, but NOT a lot of WWI airplanes. It shows the evolution of aeronautical design, from the successes to the abject failures. You gotta wonder what some of the 'engineers' were thinking when they designed aircraft with circular wings (p46 and p48), put the cockpit directly behind the 'pusher' propeller (p40), a kluge of a propeller system (p52), and so on. Includes some early 'dirigibles.'

I couldn't help humming the theme song from Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WWI 

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BOOK REVIEW: Messerschmitt Bf 110: The Luftwaffe’s Fighter-Destroyer in World War II (Legends of Warfare Series)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Messerschmitt Bf 110: The Luftwaffe’s Fighter-Destroyer in World War II (Legends of Warfare Series)

by Ron Mackay

Square book (9 3/8 by 9 3/8 inches) contains 173 black and white photos, 17 color photos, six black and white technical illustrations, and two specification tables covering all the models from prototypes through the G-4 version.

Contains nuts and bolts discussion about the aircraft and its components along with some missions, but the main appeal is the photo album nature of the series. A modeler's delight, you can see the variety of camouflage patterns on the numerous versions flying on all fronts: East, West, and Med. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: USS New York (BB-34): From World War I to the Atomic Age (Legends of Warfare Series)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: USS New York (BB-34): From World War I to the Atomic Age (Legends of Warfare Series)

by David Doyle

Square book (9 3/8 by 9 3/8 inches) contains 229 black and white photos, three color photos, and three specification tables.

From drydock construction starting in 1911 to being sunk as a target ship in 1948 (after surviving not one but two post-WWII atomic bomb tests in the Pacific), the history of the USS New York is laid out in photos with extended captions. She never fought a sea battle per se, being limited to accidentally sailing over and sinking a U-boat in WWI, supporting the Torch landings in 1942, and performing island bombardment and being a kamikaze target in the Pacific theater of WWII.

Of note, the USS New York started life as a five-turret battleship (two at bow and three at stern) until rebuilt in 1927 as a four-turret BB, and then refitted with additional armor and AA protection in 1942. If you are into battleships and especially if you're into model building, this photo book provides many of the visuals you need along with detailed explanations of salient systems. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Naval  warships  WW2  WWI  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: World War II: The Encyclopedia of Facts and Figures (Military Book Club version)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: World War II: The Encyclopedia of Facts and Figures (Military Book Club version)

by John Ellis

I picked up a used copy. This compilation of offers all sorts of data marvels on every page. TO&Es, production, manpower, losses, command structures, and lots and lots of intricate charts and tables. If you are a game designer for strategic games, this 1993 book will save you tons of time on the internet.

Some numbers likely changed after 25 years, but overall, it's a great place to start. It's also a great book to pick up if you've got five minutes and randomly open to a page. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Lockheed F-104 Starfighter: A History

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Lockheed F-104 Starfighter: A History

by Martin W. Bowman

Although primarily a Cold War fighter, versions did see combat in the Vietnam War and in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistan Wars against MiGs and various other fighters. Alas, this needle-like aircraft, of which 2,577 were built (1,241 in Europe), proved deadlier to peacetime pilots than wartime pilots.

'During its service with the German armed forces, about 270 German Starfighters were lost in accidents, just under 30% of the total force. About 110 pilots were killed. However, the attrition rate in German service was not all that much greater that that of F-104s in service with several other air forces, including the US Air Force.' (p 17) No wonder the Germans nicknamed it the widowmaker.

'Canada had the unenviable record of losing over 50 percent of its 200 single-seat CF-104s in flying accidents.' (p17) In case you're wondering, Spain had the best record -- it didn't lose a one.

The book contains 186 color photos, 137 black and white photos, 1 color movie poster (The Starfighters), 1 color cartoon, and eight color paintings of the F-104 by a Pakistani combat artist. Among those photos are color camouflage patterns from a variety of countries, so you can pick your modeling scheme.

From prototypes to front lines, first-person accounts are inserted within the more technical aspects of the text. Most of them enthused about the 104's handling characteristics when everything was working well, and how the aircraft was unforgiving when something went amiss.

It's all quite detailed for aviation buffs. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  Modern 

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BOOK REVIEW: German Uniforms, Insignias & Equipment 1918-1923: Freicorps, Reichswehr, Vehicles, Weapons

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: German Uniforms, Insignias & Equipment 1918-1923: Freicorps, Reichswehr, Vehicles, Weapons

by Charles Woolley

Although almost 20 years old (published 2002), the photographs within are timeless in capturing the uniforms of units vying for control of Germany after WWI.

Admittedly, I know little about this era, but the extended captions helped expand my knowledge of the types of units that battled in the streets of Berlin, Munich, and elsewhere. As you can guess, most government and freicorps troops wore WWI uniforms, while most Communist units wore altered civilian garb.

It's all recorded in 220 black and white photos. Since the book is oversized at 9.25x12.25 inches, most of the photos are larger than usual. Of note are the wide variety of vehicles adapted for use in street fighting -- mostly automobiles and trucks sporting bolted on armor and crudely attached MGs, but also including tanks (German A7V, British Mk IV, and British Whippet), and armored trains. A couple photos included soldiers using artillery and wielding flamethrowers.

After I finished my first read-through, I flipped back through the pages, re-reading captions of the more interesting photos. As for skirmish scenarios, never mind Hitler's Beer Hall putsch, how about some 1919 street battles?

The book contains 220 black and white photos, seven black and white illustrations, six pages of period color uniform illustrations (37 officers and soldiers), 16 pages of period color illustrations (311 caps/badges/cuffs/tassels), six color recruiting posters, one color drawing, two color uniform photos, three color photos of period documents, and one color chart.

The first swastikas in the photos appeared on a Wurttenburg vehicle in April 1919 (p107) before the Nazis made it their icon, but skull and crossbones seemed rather popular on troops and armored cars. And just for you fun-loving painters, let's not overlook Freikorps Werdenfels attired in traditional Bavarian lederhosen (p57) -- how about putting a squad or two of Werdenfels (historically, about 250 men were in the unit) in a Munich 1919 skirmish game to fight the Rote Garde commies (p35)? Or a late 1918-early 1919 Communist-Freikorps battle for Berlin? Scenarios abound.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Between World Wars  Tanks  Uniforms  Vehicles  WWI 

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BOOK REVIEW: Mirage III: IAI Nesher/Dagger (Monographs 68)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Mirage III: IAI Nesher/Dagger (Monographs 68)

by Salvador Mafe Huertas.

According to the credits, Huertas performed the translation and editing of the text, and unfortunately, this is the first Kagero book I've read that desperately needs a complete re-edit.

I suspect some sort of computer translation program was used, especially when it reads like a Google Translated document, including Spanish words the program (and editor) missed (as on p88, second paragraph). I'm sorry. The text is just so convoluted, it's virtually unreadable. I don't know if this is first draft text accidentally dropped into production or deadline pressure caused such errors to be overlooked, but much as I skipped around, the text never became any clearer.

The 42 black and white photos, 159 color photos, 10 color profiles, and 9 black and white technical illustrations are up to Kagero standards.

Tags:  Air  Modern 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Brandenburg-Class Battleships: 1890-1918 (Super Drawings in 3D)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Sunday, November 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: The Brandenburg-Class Battleships: 1890-1918 (Super Drawings in 3D)

by Tassos Katsikas

White two of the four ships of this class (completed in 1893) served in the Imperial German Navy in WWI, the other two (completed in 1893/1894) served in the Turkish Navy. Of note is the turret mounted in the center of the ship -- innovation that never quite worked right.

The text shows signs of haste with a number of grammatical errors as well as a typo in an illustration caption (p37), but the 135 color 3D illustrations, of the entire ship as well as close-ups of specific systems, are up to usual Kagero excellence.

Of particular interest to modelers: separate 19x27-inch sheet with black and white line drawings in 1/200 scale of the ship (top, side, bow, and stern), in 1/20 scale of the 37mm quick firing gun (top, side, and front), in 1/35 scale of the 88mm quick firing gun (top, side, and front), in 1/35 scale of the 105mm quick firing gun (top, side, and front), and in 1/100 scale of the Krupp main turret with 280mm gun (top, side, front, and rear). Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Naval  warships  WWI 

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