Monday 16 November 2020

Book Review: Artillery Warfare, '39-'45, Simon & Jonathan Forty

This excellent single volume packs an awful lot into a pretty small space. 

Over 400 black and white photos illustrate the massive range of materiel covered, taking in all the main (and many minor) combatant nations and theatres*. As well as the plentiful imagery, extracts from wartime records are used to show how the various artillery branches of the armed forces operated. 

A remarkable range of artillery is covered, even if - give the enormity of the subject - only in relatively quick or short form; from the brief mention of hand-held anti-tank weapons, to individual entries on such weaponry as the Long Tom, or those crazily huge Nazi rail-super-guns, including towed artillery, SP guns, rockets, AA and fixed batteries (like the Maginot and Westwall), and so on. 

From pocket-sized pea shooters, like the Pak 37...

The roots of modern artillery developments in WWI, their rapid evolution during WWII, and even hints of the postwar legacy - many guns of WWII remained in use long after '45, and many technologies evolved by quantum leaps during the Second World War, to create a new era (guided missiles/rocketry) - are all here. 

Appendices add info on observation and gun siting, etc. All in all a very impressive work, covering exactly what the title suggests. I'd say this is a pretty essential reference work for the seriously interested WWII history buff. But obviously being a brief and wide ranging picture based survey, more in depth detail is to be sought/found in more specialist publications.

... to huge monsters like this, there's a lot here.

Further to this last point, this book might also, as it has for me, stimulate a desire to delve further into certain sub-categories; for example, I recently got into the famed German 88mm gun, and I'm prompted now, having read this, to pick up a book from my pending pile about Germany's West Wall...

* The only notable omission theatre/combatant wise that struck me being China.

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