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Book Review: German Heavy Field Artillery: 1934-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Joachim Engelmann. Translated by David Johnston. A 48-page booklet full of photos and extended captions about 150mm German artillery. Like the above, generally OK with but the photocopied German specs, etc. Again, would have wanted more about the actual deployment and use of batteries. Found at half-price, so generally OK.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: German Light Field Artillery: 1935-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Joachim Engelmann. Translated by David Johnston. A 48-page booklet full of photos and captions about 105mm German artillery. Generally OK, but the photocopied specs are all in German, limiting its usefulness to us English readers without some sort of translation software. Would have wanted more about the actual deployment and use of batteries. Found at half-price, so generally OK.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: The Battle for Okinawa: A Japanese Officer's Eyewitness Account of the Last Great Campaign of World War II,

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Colonel Hiromichi Yahara. Originally published in Japan in 1972, this 1995 translation offers a Japanese view of the battle from the Operations officer of the 32nd Army that defended Okinawa. His carefully crafted attrition defense plan among the craggy terrain went awry when HQ in Tokyo stripped troops for the Philippines, US submarines torpedoes reinforcements, and worst of all from Yahara's perspective, HQ ordered all out attacks into the teeth of US firepower that decimated the Japanese units. US casualties were 40,000 on land, 10,000 at sea, and another 26,000 non-battle casualties (disease, combat fatigue, etc.). Although the ultimate outcome was not in doubt, the loss of roughly 7500 trained combat troops in such fruitless attacks out of the motley mix of 65,000 troops would have added to the US casualty count. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Pursuit: The Chase and Sinking of the Battleship Bismarck

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Ludovic Kennedy. This 1974 book also ignores Ultra, but reads almost like a thriller. It points out miscalculations and mistakes on both sides as the Bismarck came oh so close to slipping away, courtesy of missed signals, clever maneuvers, and that 'one in 100,000' chance torpedo hit that jammed the rudder at 15 degrees. Of some amusement: the Bismarck's opening salvo against the cruiser HMS Norfolk blew out Bismarck's own forward radar -- you'd think that someone in German engineering would have tested that in the initial sea trials. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Naval  reviews  warships  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: The Naval War Against Hitler

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Donald MacIntyre. Reading this 1971 book just after reading the Ultra at Sea book, I was amazed that MacIntyre never mentioned Ultra. This may be because the book predated the release of Ultra archives. Still, it contains a nice overview of British naval strategy punctuated by tactical actions against the Axis (Italians in the Mediterranean Sea included), with all the high profile battles dissected: Bismarck, Narvik, U-Boat war (bulk of book), PQ-17 and Arctic convoys, Operation Pedestal, Scharnhorst, Axis efforts against Allied convoys in the Mediterranean Sea, and Allied efforts against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoyed it, albeit with an Ultra caveat.

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Tags:  Naval  reviews  warships  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Ultra at Sea: How Breaking the Nazi Code Affected Allied Naval Strategy During World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by John Winton. Although the prose often plods along like a cargo ship chugging across the Atlantic at 6 knots, the information within is like a tanker full of aviation gas reaching Malta. German disbelief that anyone could break the Enigma code helped Britain maintain a constant stream of intercepted and deciphered German naval information -- put to good use in avoiding U-Boat wolfpacks, picking off weather ships, and tracking naval movements. Of real interest is the chapter on how sloppy Allied habits with Ultra information probably should have tipped the Germans off that their codes had been broken, but the Germans discounted that the allies could break their 'unbreakable' code. Enjoyed it.

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Tags:  Naval  reviews  warships  WW2 

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Book Review: On a Knife's Edge: The Ukraine November 1942 - March 1943

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Prit Buttar. This basically covers from Stalingrad to the German Kharkov counterattack and once again, Buttar delivers a well-written and documented operational overview of the plans, battles, and command decisions that went into these campaigns. If I had to nitpick, it would be his over-relying on inserting first-person accounts -- a few add flavor, even the obvious propaganda of the Soviets, but too many leave you yearning for Buttar's crisp analysis of situations and events. Still, enjoyed it.

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Tags:  Eastern Front  reviews  WW2 

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Book Review: Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing's Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Mitchell Yockelson. This covers the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives of the US Army in WWI in Sep 1918, with the German army still potent, but suffering shortages of manpower and munitions. The victorious American Expeditionary Force rolled over the vastly outnumbered Germans, although the terrain often cancelled out some of the advantage. Well written and explained. Enjoyed it.

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Tags:  reviews  WWI 

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Book Review: Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Nathaniel Philbrick. Centered around the politics of command, this fascinating look into events leading up to Benedict Arnold's treason shows how the sharp elbows of political maneuverings hindered and helped the American Revolution. Between fighting the British and fighting the Continental Congress, George comes out cleverer than ever while Benedict gets a nuanced profile about what drove the hero of Saratoga to end up selling out West Point and the fledgling USA. Well written. Enjoyed it.

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Tags:  AWI  reviews 

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Book Review: Panther Project Volume Two: Engine and Turret

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Lee Lloyd, Brian Balkwill, and Alasdair Johnson. This 208-page pictorial reference softcover book, sized 8.25x11.675-inches, offers 502 color photos of the Maybach engine and turret of a Panther A being restored to running condition by the Wheatcroft Collection from 2009 to 2018. That's on top of 45 pre-restoration photos, four pages of tank history, and 12 pages of color technical illustrations. The captions explain what you're seeing, some info about how it was assembled, and a little bit about how the crew operated the item. I found the ammunition storage part interesting in how they fit 79 rounds (half AP and half HE) inside the tank. Of these, 27 rounds were in panniers behind the driver and radio operator and three rounds seem to be strapped in under the rotating turret basket (Photo 394 is clearest). Then there's a bin for spent casings, a fan to vent out smoke, and other things that were needed to fire the gun -- think about that when you roll a die. Also of note is the Demolition charge -- a 3.5kg explosive with a nice red knob to pull. The crewman had 60 seconds to abandon tank before the charge went off. In various books, I had read about crew setting a charge to destroy a tank. Now I see what it looked like in a Panther. The main photos show fully-restored, shiny versions of the equipment that took years to rehabilitate, replace, or fashion from scratch. The book doesn't say how much longer this restoration will take, but the end result will be a fully-functioning Panther. Enjoyed it.

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Tags:  Panzer  reviews  Tanks  WW2  WWII 

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