Images of War – M12 Gun Motor Carriage – Book Review

A few days ago I finished reading Images of War – M7 Priest – Book Review so naturally the next to move onto was the big gun, the 155mm gun propelled in the M12 Gun Motor Carriage. Like the volume on the M7 Priest, this was written by David Doyle and contains 142 pages of photographs and text of the M12, T6 Prototype and the T14 (the ISBN is 9781526743527 and it was published on 12 December 2018 by Pen and Sword Military)

The M12 development started in 1941, despite having met early opposition. The development work was based on using the M3 Medium Tank chassis and the prototype, T6, was mounting a French made M1917 155mm gun. To accommodate the large gun, it needed to be rear mounted which meant the engine had to be moved forward, to a position just behind the driving compartment.

The vehicle also required a hydraulically-operated spade at the rear to stabilise the firing position due to the gun’s recoil.

When production commenced, three different war surplus weapons were mounted depending on availability:

  • the French built M1917
  • the US built M1918
  • the M18917A1 which had a French gun tube and a US breech

As with his coverage of the M7, David Doyle has written and provided a great coverage of this vehicle with the book covering the following:

  • The T6 Prototype
  • The M12
  • The T14
  • The M12 in Combat
  • The M12 Preserved

This last chapter is quite interesting as well as if contains many close up photographs, in colour, of the restored M12 that is preserved and displayed at the US Army Field Artillery Museum, Fort Sil, Oklahoma. It has been repainted to replicate a wartime vehicle, “Adolf’s Assassin”, an M12 that was assigned to Alpha Battery, 991st Field Artillery Battalion in North-Western Europe toward the end of the Second World War.

While only 74 of these vehicles were sent to Europe (along with the M30 ammunition carrier – also illustrated), they were very successful in their combat role and really paved the way for the future of 155mm SPGs present in almost all armies during the Cold War.

As with all books in the Images of War series, there are many photographs of the vehicles highlighted. In the case of those volumes looking at one particular type of vehicle, the photographs provide so much detail useful for modellers in particular. In this case there are 61 pages of close up colour photographs making this volume a must for any serious modellers of World War 2 tracked artillery.

The images are not just of the vehicles in static positions but rather include “action shots” taken during the Second World War in particular.

Well recommended, especially for the modeller of fighting vehicles, not only for the images of the M12 but also for many photos that could provide inspiration for diorama building.

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Images of War – M7 Priest – Book Review

Recently I looked at the Images of War volume covering the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps by Ian Baxter. in the same parcel of books from Pen and Sword Military in the Images of War series, I received a volume on the M7 Priest. This was written by David Doyle and contains 143 mostly of photographs of the M7 (the ISBN is 9781526738851 and it was published on 4 February 2019)

The M7 was the American 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage produced during World War II. This self-propelled artillery was produced in great numbers with over 4,000 of all marks produced. It was used by 16 different countries and was in service during World War II, the Korean War, the 6-day War and Yom Kippur. While most were produced over the period 1942 to 1945, they continued in service in various countries into the late 1960s.

The M7 was named “Priest” as in part it was a replacement for the British 25-pdr self-propelled gun known as the “Bishop”.

David Doyle has written and provided a great coverage of this vehicle with the book covering the following:

  • Baldwin Locomotive Works T32
  • American Locomotive Works M7
  • Federal Machine and Welder M7
  • Pressed Steel Car Company M7B1
  • Howitzer Motor Carriage M7B2
  • Field Use
  • Appendices covering:
    • Priest Contracts and Deliveries
    • General Data
    • M2A1 Howitzer Specifications
    • The Armoured Field Artillery Battalion

As with all books in the Images of War series, there are many photographs of the vehicles highlighted. In the case of those volumes looking at one particular type of vehicle, the photographs provide so much detail useful for modellers in particular.

The images are not just of the vehicles in static positions but rather include “action shots” taken during the Second World War in particular. Due to the M7 lasting in service into the 1960s there are also some terrific colour photographs of theM7 in field use.

Well recommended, especially for the modeller of fighting vehicles, not only for the images of the M7 but also for many photos that cold provide inspiration for diorama building.

 

 

 

Images of War – the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps – Book Review

Another volume in the Images of War series landed on my desk a few months back. This one covers the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps by Ian Baxter. It is published by Pen & Sword Military in the Images of War series with 128 pages of rare photographs from Wartime Archives (ISBN: 9781526722393, published on 8 January 2019).

The Deutsche Afrikakorps (DAK, known simply as the Afrika Korps) was a Corp that was welded into an effective fighting machine by its general, Erwin Rommel. German troops were sent to North Africa to support, or rather prop-up, the Italian forces present in North Africa, the forces which had been bloodied to the turn of nearly 400 tanks destroyed and 130,000 troops casualties or captured by the British and Commonwealth Forces under General Richard O’Connor.

The Second World War in North Africa was a war of movement, of forces pushing forward and stretching their supply lines to the limits only to be followed by a strong counter-attack and retreat where the counter attackers move forward and stretch their supply lines. The oscillations repeated.

Rommel melded the Italian forces with the German reinforcements into an effective fighting Corps and then applied the blitzkrieg tactics that had worked so well in France to the deserts and wadis of North Africa. This continued until the eventual arrival of American forces pinned the Germans and Italians between two larger armies.

Baxter’s book covers the full range of German armoured vehicles that saw action in North Africa over the period 1941 to 1943 covering not just the panzers, and there was the full range from the Panzer I through VI, but also the Sturmartillerie equipment along with half-tracks, armoured cars, motorcycles and so on.

The book’s contents are:

  • Introduction
  • Desert Blitzkrieg, 1941
  • Attack and Retreat, 1942
  • Destruction in Tunisia, 1943
  • Appendix I – Order of Battle
  • Appendix II – Panzers Operational in Africa, 1941-1943
  • Appendix III – Heavy and Light Armoured Vehicles in North Africa, 1941-43
  • Appendix IV – Halftracks Operational in North Africa, 1941-43

The illustrations throughout the book commence with photographs of Panzerkampfwagen II (Pz.Kpfw.II) and Pz.Kpfw.III being unloaded from ships on the docks in North Africa. The background of some of these photos is also interesting, sometimes more so than the foreground for the hint of life in the German Army at the time,

The book then goes on to illustrate Pz.Kpfw.I; Pz.Kpfw.II; Pz.Kpfw.III; Pz.Kpfw.IV; Pz.Kpfw.V (Panther); and Pz.Kpfw.VI (Tiger) in service in North Africa, along with photographs of some of the personalities. What is also apparent in many of these photographs is the quantity of extra paraphernalia carried by these vehicles in the desert, strapped to the sides of vehicles. Photographs also shw vehicles that have been knocked out or are being repaired or repainted.

As well as the panzers, there are many photographs of the armoursed card, half-tracks, prime-movers and the like with the Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.231, 232, 233, 234, 234/1, 234/2, 234/3, 263); Leichter Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.221, 222, 223, 260/261); and the many variants of the halftracks, the ubiquitous Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd.Kfz.251 and 250) being illustrated. Also included are some of the artillery tractors, the Horch, Marders, motorcycles, self-propelled guns and the like.

I will admit finding the way the Order of Battle section was laid out somewhat confusing but this is a small gripe as there are many more authoritative sources of this information available to the researcher, historian, military enthusiast, wargamer or modeller.

This book would certainly be on interest to a wide spectrum of readers interested in the Second World War in North Africa and the Deutsche Afrikakorps in particular. It will certainly remain within easy reach on my bookshelves. Recommended.

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume II – Book Review

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume II, written by John Lambert and Al Ross deals with Vosper MTBs and US Elcos. It was published on 9 April 2019 by Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen and Sword Books, is 256 pages long and has ISBN: 9781526747556.

Like volume I, this is a reprint of a book first published by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, in 1994 the picked up by  Conway Maritime Press in 2002. It was reprinted again in April 2005 by Conway’s. This volume deals with sixteen Vosper MTB designs, and the US 70′, 77′ and 80′ Elco designs.

Also, as with Volume 1, there are copies of volume 2 from 2002 available still, new, for US $72.40 at various outlets.

Vosper was established as a company in 1871. They became famous for the unstepped planing hull-form they developed which was the basis of their Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) and Motor Gun Boats (MGB) for the Royal Navy in World War II. The original boats had a length of 68 feet and were based upon the prototype MTB 102, which survives to this day as a museum piece.

Vosper 70′ MTB in Admiralty Light Basic scheme with recognition star used in the Mediterranean

Vosper’s designs were copied by many, especially given the speeds they acheived with their planing hulls. Apart from MTBs and MGBs, Vosper also built high speed launches for the the Royal Air Force for the rescue of air crew who ditched into the sea.

Vospers were not only built in the United Kingdom but also in the United States under license.

The illustration here are some of the vessels illustrated with differing camouflage designs are taken from the book. Apologies for the quality, I photographed with my tablet and one hand and it is a heavy tome.

Elco 80′ PT Boat in Measure 33/7P

As with the previous volume, the detail, drawings, plans and photographs in this book are super. Al Ross had a reputation as a very fine draughtsman and it shows in his drawings throughout the volume. Lambert covers the details of the vessels, the equipment that was present on the vessels, selected weapon systems and additional data.

The table of contents, apart from the usual sections of Foreword, Preface, Abbreviations and the like covers:

  • Vosper Ltd
  • Elco – a short history
  • Vosper’s private venture (MTB 102) and Bloodhound
  • Vosper MTB designs 1938-39
  • The Vosper 45ft MTB Design
  • Vosper designs 1940
  • MTB 74
  • MTB 103
  • Vosper designs 1941
  • Vosper designs 1942
  • MTB 510
  • Vosper designs 1943-45
  • Vosper construction
  • The Elco 70ft PT
  • The Elco 77ft PT
  • The Elco 80ft PT
  • Licence-built Vospers
  • PT construction
  • PT camouflage
  • The Packard 4M-2500 marine engine
  • Selected weapons systems (0.5in Vickers machine guns; 20mm Oerlikons (single and twin); 9mm Lanchester machine carbine; 18in and 21in torpedo tubes; PT torpedo armament and the Dewandre turret)
  • Additional data covering US 20mm, 37mm and 40mm mounts and guns; Rocket launchers; Development of bridge and wheelhouse during the Second World War; Notes on operating the Royal Navy Packard engines; Free French Vosper MTBs; The Vosper survivors; and Restored Elco PT 617.

As with the first volume, the writing in the book is clear an easy to both follow and understand. It has been fascinating to read about these vessels, so much so that I am looking for similar works on Axis boats. It is a shame that the third volume mooted back in the 1990s never eventuated as it would have dealt with the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs which were also very successful boats.

This also is a must have book for anyone interested in coastal warfare and a great companion to Volume 1. There is nothing I can think of that is really missing from this coverage. Best, along with volume 1, it is on special at the moment (23 July 2019)  at Pen and Sword.

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume I – Book Review

Allied Coastal Forces of World War II – Volume I, written by John Lambert and Al Ross deals with Fairmile Designs and the US Submarine Chasers. It was published on 12 December 2018 by Seaforth Publishing, an imprint of Pen and Sword Books, is 256 pages long and has ISBN: 9781526744494*(see below).

I do love naval history and I have a particular interest in small boats (and big ships and all in between truth be told). This volume deals with some of my favourite vessels, the Fairmiles.

Fairmile Marine was a British boat building company founded in 1939 by the car manufacturer Noel Macklin using his garage at Cobham Fairmile in Surrey for manufacturing assembly. His company was run as an agency of the Admiralty, the company carrying out business without turning a profit, the staff being in effect part of the civil service.

Fairmile B – Admiralty Light Modification Scheme

His first design was the Fairmile A Motor Launch (ML) but the most ubiquitous of the Fairmiles was the Fairmile B ML. Over 600 of these were built over the period 1940 to 1945. Originally designed as submarine chasers the Motor Launches were fitted with ASDIC. Later versions of the Fairmiles (the C, D and F versions) were fitted out as gunboats with the Ds also rigged as Motor Torpedo Boats.

Coastal naval warfare in both the North Sea and the Mediterranean were fiercely fought skirmishes between the Allied MLs, MGBs and MTBs and the Axis E-Boats, R-Boats, MAS boats and the like. The Fairmile boats made up a considerable portion of Coastal Command and fought in all theatres.

Fairmile B – Admiralty Dark Modification Scheme – a harbour defence ML

The illustration here are some of the vessels illustrated with differing camouflage designs are taken from the book. Apologies for the quality, I photographed with my tablet and one hand and it is a heavy tome.

The detail, drawings, plans and photographs in this book are super. The authors cover the details of the vessels, the equipment that was present on the vessels, selected weapon systems and additional data, including the fate of most of the vessels. For example, we can see the builder, when a vessel was completed and its fate. In the case of ML 400, this vessel was built in New Zealand and completed on 18 November 1942. It served in the RNZN where it sailed as HMNZS Kahu, being sold in 1947 and sailing then as the Dolphin.

US Submarine Chaser, SC497, part of a class of 110′ sub chasers in measure 14 camouflage

The US Submarine Chasers are covered as well, although not in as great a detail.

The table of contents, apart from the usual sections of Forewards, Authors Notes, Prefaces, Abbreviations and the like  covers:

  • The Fairmile company
  • The Fairmile B ML
  • The Canadian Fairmile B ML
  • The Fairmile C motor gunboat
  • The Fairmile D MTB/MGB
  • The Fairmile F MGB
  • The Fairmile H Landing Craft
  • The SC 497 class 110 ft sub chaser
  • Depth Charges and anti-submarine equipment
  • British Coastal Forces radar
  • British Coastal Forces camouflage
  • Engines and engineering
  • Weapons systems (depth charge projectors, flares, machine guns, 1- and 2-pounder guns, 4.5in guns and the like

The extensive appendices include:

  • Schedule of British Builders
  • Fairmile production analysis Yard analysis Consumption of major materials
  • Area comparisons
  • Building times

all in all, 12 appendices.

The writing in the book is clear an easy to both follow and understand. Best, most of the book is in shorter chapters making it easier to read and follow over shorter reading sessions. I have learnt so much from this work that I am really itching to start on their volume 2 which covers perhaps the most famous of the Allied coastal vessels, the Vosper MTBs and US Elcos. There is a third volume being prepared covering the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs which were very successful boats.

This really is a must have book for anyone interested in coastal warfare. There is nothing I can think of that is really missing from this coverage. Best, it is on special at the moment (20 July 2019)  at Pen and Sword.


* Please note the following (21 July 2019):

This work was originally published in 1994. in the US it was published by the Naval Institute Press (and I am guessing by Conway’s in the UK). In 2005 it was reprinted and published by Conway’s in the UK (and I am guessing that the Naval Institute Press may well have republished then too). I have not seen either of those editions so I can’t comment on any change in content in this edition. I can, however, note that a new copy of the 1994 version is selling on Amazon for US $225 dollars and the 2005 version new for US $165.60. The £32.00 current version from Pen and Sword therefore looks good value by comparison.

I should also note that unfortunately, the third volume covering the British Power Boat 70ft MTBs and MGBs was never published.

Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire – Review

After reading Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees recently, it only seemed natural to pick up the story by looking at Rome and Carthage. Carthage was famous for its seafaring having been originally a Phoenician colony, the same Phoenicians who participated (we must assume unwillingly) in the ill-fated Persian invasions of Greece. Rome certainly was not famous for its seafaring.

Where the naval battles were mostly fought in  the Ancient Greek World by triremes and to a lesser extent, penteconters, when Rome and Carthage faced off against each other the vessels had become heavier, consisting to quadriremes and more importantly, the peak of the ancient Mediterranean galleys, quinqueremes.

Pen & Sword Books published Rome Seizes the Trident – The Defeat of Carthaginian Seapower and the Forging of the Roman Empire by Marc G DeSantis. The book is 272 pages long (ISBN: 9781473826984) and was originally published on 16 May 2016. It is available in hardback, Kindle and ePub versions with the electronic versions somewhat cheaper than the printed copy.

Owen Rees noted that in the Battle of Catane, part of the Hegemony period, in the the battle between Syracuse and Carthage it appears that this is where the Carthaginians were first exposed to quadriremes and quinqueremes, noting:

Leptines had already shown himself a capable commander, having been in charge of the fleet since the siege of Motya, at the latest. Within his fleet he is said to have had thirty superior ships, a crack force of the same number which had confronted the Carthaginian armada at the beginning of their expedition. It seems extremely probably that these thirty ships, or at least a proportion of them, were of the new designs: quadriremes and quinqueremes.

When Carthage and Rome finally faced off in the Punic Wars, the standard warships at the stage were the quadriremes and quinqueremes Carthage may have been exposed to in Syracuse.

Marc G DeSantis commences his book by a look at the sources, and for this period , the preeminent source is Polybius. Also important of course were Livy although a much later author and concentrating on the Second Punic War and Plutarch, later still with his Parallel lives. Appian is the main source for the final Punic War and the destruction of Carthage. The Byzantine, John Zonaras was an author from the 12th Century but his value here is the summaries in Epitome Historiarum where he recounts information from the now fragmentary Dio with some naval aspects from the First Punic War that Polybius did not mention.

In Part I of his work, DeSantis breaks that section up into the following chapters:

Part I: Breaking Carthage

Chapter 1 – Sources
Chapter 2 – The Contestants
Chapter 3 – Sicily: Theatre of War, History and Blood
Chapter 4 – War at Sea in the Age of the War Galley
Chapter 5 – Breaking Athens: A Case Study

Chapters 4 and 5 are where DeSantis really gets swinging. The early chapters really set the scene, discussing Rome and Carthage and Sicily, for much of the naval aspects of the Punic Wars, the battleground. In Chapter 4 however he talks about the ways galleys fought, and for once he does not draw a straight dichotomy between ramming and boarding tactics, rather noting that both were used by all sides, depending on situation. He does draw a clear distinction, however, between the skilled seafarers who seemed to prefer ramming over boarding, such as the Athenians, the Phocaeans, the Rhodians and the Carthaginians. However he does point out that “ramming and boarding would have been carried out as the opportunities presented themselves”.

He notes the use of lemboi as a means of transferring signals across a fleet by standing off a little and repeating the signals, much like the frigates of the Napoleonic Wars at sea.

Chapter 5 is a review of the breaking of Athens through the negation of naval superiority in the Peloponnesian Wars. He also recounts a Corinthian tactic where the Corinthians at the Battle of Erineus in 413 BCE, slightly outnumbered by the 33 Athenian vessels, had made changes to their rams and adopted the tactic of a headlong charge at the Athenian fleet, looking to ram their vessels straight on and not giving the Athenians a chance to use their superior seamanship.  While no vessels were sunk from either side so technically a draw, the Corinthians looked on it as a victory and the Athenians saw it as a defeat.

After this survey of early naval tactics, DeSantis starts on the meat of his work – the Punic Wars.

Part II – The First Punic War

Chapter 6 – Trouble at the Toe of Italy
Chapter 7 – Opening Moves
Chapter 8 – Mylae, 260 BC: Rome’s Fleet Sails in Harm’s Way
Chapter 9 – After Mylae
Chapter 10 – Ecnomus, 256 BC
Chapter 11 – The Battle of Cape Hermaeum, 255 BC
Chapter 12 – Rome Tries Again
Chapter 13 – Drepna, 249 BC
Chapter 14 – The Debut of Hamilcar Barca
Chapter 15 – Endgame: The Battle of the Aegates Islands, 241 BC
Chapter 16 – Peace
Chapter 17 – Was Seapower Worth the Cost?

DeSantis starts with the trouble at Messana and Rhegium and the effect of the perceived threat from Pyrrhus. Mercenaries and garrisons revolting and taking over, enter Hiero of Syracuse who placed the city of Messana under siege after defeating the Mamertimes at the Battle of Longanus River in 264 BC. The Mamertimes appealed to both Rome and Carthage for assistance. Rome really stepped in to prevent Carthage developing a toehold in Sicily, fearing that the Carthaginians would use that as a springboard to an invasion of Italy.

From this point in and narrative DeSantis examines the moves and counter moves of the protagonists. The Romans built a fleet, copying a Carthaginian galley that had grounded itself on the coast back in 264 when it was trying to oppose the Roman landings in Sicily. The Roman vessels however were not of the same quality as Carthaginian or Greek vessels. DeSantis the follows the course of the war, the defeats and then victories of the Romans, stopping briefly to discuss the Corvus and its origins. The necessity for the corvus was probably because of the poor quality of the Roman vessels and seamanship. The suggestion for the corvus appears to have come from an unnamed Sicilian Greek. The suggestion may have come from within Messana although there are a number of compelling suggestion that it may have come from Syracuse, given the Syracusans being an enthusiastic practitioner of the Corinthian style headlong rush into the enemy. Grappling from that position was a natural extension of that tactic and building a boarding bride, the next logical step.

DeSantis also examines the negative answer to this version of the corvus mounting as well and provides a good counter argument. His discussion of the corvus and the Roman quinquereme versus the Carthaginian quinquereme is a far argument of both sides of the tale. I will admit that his discussion has me reexamining some of my thoughts and perceptions of naval warfare in those times.

He then discusses the more famous battles, Mylae; Ecnomus; Cape Hermaeum; Drepna; and Aegates Islands. To conclude the section on the First Punic War DeSantis looks at the question, “was the seapower worth the cost?”

Part III: Conflicts Between the Wars

Chapter 18 – Illyria and Gaul
Chapter 19 – The Mercenary Revolt 240-238 BC

The two chapters here deal with Rome’s intervention in Illyria in 229 and the overseas deployment, this time across the Adriatic, of the Roman army. The start of this intervention paralleled that of the start of the First Punic War but in this case it was a bunch of Gallic mercenaries seized control of the city of Phoenice in Epirus. The people of the city asked the Romans for assistance and that coupled with the Illyrian pirates attacking Italian shipping the situation became one that Rome could ignore. Polybius even records that previously the Senate in Rome always ignored complaints about the Illyrians. Rome sent a couple of commissioners to Queen Teuta’s court but she dismissed them and apparently had one murdered while he was returning to Rome.

Naval operations got underway with the Illyrians attacking Epidamnus and Corcyra. The Corcyraeans appealed for assistance to the Achaeans and Aetolians for assistance and 10 Achaean ships were sent (quadriremes it seems). Acarnanians allied themselves to the Illyrians and sent seven galleys. A small inconclusive battle was fought off the Paxi Islands. The Illyrians used lighter galleys than the Achaeans but developed an interesting tactic when they faced the Achaeans. The Illyrians lasd their vessels together in groups of four. This was a tempting broadside target for the Achaeans who dutifully increased the stroke rate to ram speed and hit the Illyrians vessels only then to become entangled with the four lashed vessels and as their crews were well outnumbered (about 4 to 1), the Illyrians stormed the Achaean vessels and four Achaean quadriremes were either lost or captured.

The Roman army and fleet became engaged in the area now and the result was around 20 Illyrian galleys and most of the coastal cities captured by the fleet while the army moved inland and took control of cities there.

Part IV: Strangling Carthage

Chapter 20 – The Second Punic War, 218-202 BC
Chapter 21 – A Second War with Carthage
Chapter 22 – Hannibal in Italy
Chapter 23 – Holding the Line in the Adriatic: The War with Macedonia
Chapter 24 – Sicily and Sardinia
Chapter 25 – Carthage’s Spanish Ulcer
Chapter 26 – Africa
Chapter 27 – Seapower and the Second Punic War

The Second Punic War is one that modern readers mostly associate with Hannibal (with or without his elephants); Scipio Africanus; battles such as Cannae, Trebia, Trasimene and Zama; and a small largely mercenary army spending 16 years in enemy territory undefeated. This is not to ignore the contribution of Scipio, especially with the battles he fought in Spain but mostly the Second Punic War is remembered for land actions.

DeSantis makes a good survey of naval action as well as other theatres over this period. The details of the treaty Hannibal struck with Philip V of Macedon, for example, where the Macedonians would assemble a fleet of 200 ships and harry the west coast of Italy as well as operations on land. Once the Romans had been defeated, Macedon would be given control of the Illyrian coast and Hannibal would assist Philip to defeat his Greek enemies.

Over the period of the Second Punic War there were a number of naval expeditions, mostly in and around Sicily. Bomilcar in 212 with 130 war galleys and 700 transport ships sailing to Sicily to rescue Syracuse from the Romans was one such expedition.  Over this period, Rome maintained some measure of control over the sea between Africa and Sicily but there were many other  areas where control of the sea was not so complete.

DeSantis also notes that the Carthaginians may have been reluctant to try their hand against Rome at sea as the First Punic War and the naval defeats there were only a generation previously.

Part V: Destroying Carthage

Chapter 28 – Roman Naval Operation in the East
Chapter 29 – A Third War with Carthage

Interestingly, DeSantis notes as well about this period, “the First Macedonian War (215-205), fought as part of the larger Second Punic War, had sputtered along once the Romans lost interest in it.” In chapter 28 he surveys the Roman naval operations in and around Greece, especially with regards to the Second Macedonian War and makes mention of the monster galley building of the Hellenistic monarchs (for further detail on those monster galleys, I can suggest Giant Hellenistic warships with more than 7000 crew members).

To conclude his work, DeSantis notes a number of changes in Roman Society as a result of the Punic Wars. He contends that the huge influx on slaves after the First Punic War changed the state from one of yeoman farmers into a state with great inequality among the citizenry. The appearance of the patron-client relationship over this period as well would cause issues for the later Republic. This relationship first appeared in the Second Punic War. As more provinces were added to the Roman Empire, the equites or knights became more and more wealthy as the class that were the tax collectors. This stymied any future attempts of the aristocrats to return Italian peasant farmers to the land as well as causing provincial populations to hate the state as a result of the deprivations of the tax collectors.

The Romans also simplified their ship building (as did the Carthaginians for that matter), preparing premade parts and stockpiling them, building the ship as a large kit. Rome settled on two ship designs over the period, the being based on the Carthaginian war galley that had run aground in 264 and the second on the vessel of Hannibal the Rhodian, captured in 250.

DeSantis’ book is a good survey of Rome’s efforts at sea and the effects of the strategy and tactics involved in the period covered. He discusses the effects of battles and political manoeuvring, including its effects on the struggles underway on land. This is a great read, and one I have been waiting to read since I read A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC – Marc G DeSantis last year (yes, I know, read them in the wrong order). I am happy to recommend this book to anyone interested in ancient history, military history, naval history, classic naval warfare. I will admit to having learnt a few new things here, especially about Queen Teuta and her conflict with Rome.

Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees – Review

I have waited for this to be published since receiving and reading the previous work of Owen Rees, Great Battles of the Classical Greek World and A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC by Marc G DeSantis.

Where DeSantis looked at the trireme then three wars (Archidamian, the Sicilian Expedition, and Ionian War), Rees breaks his work up into the following parts:

Part 1 – The Persian Conflicts
Chapter 1 – The Battle of Lade (494 BC)
Chapter 2 – The Battle of Artemisium (480 BC)
Chapter 3 – The Battle of Salamis (480 BC)

Part 2 – Archidamian War
Chapter 4 – The Battle of Sybota (433 BC)
Chapter 5 – The Battle of the Corinthian Gulf (429 BC)
Chapter 6 – The Battle of Corcyra (427 BC)

Part 3 – The Ionian War
Chapter 7 – Battle of Erineus (413 BC)
Chapter 8 – The Battle for the Great Harbour of Syracuse (413 BC)
Chapter 9 – Battles of the Ionian Coast (412-411 BC)
Chapter 10 – The Battle of Arginusae (406 BC)
Chapter 11 – The Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)

Part 4 – Turning of the Tide
Chapter 12 – Battle of Catane (396 BC)
Chapter 13 – Battle of Cnidus (394 BC)

The book, Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World was published on 10 January 2019 in Hardback, Kindle and ePub versions. The author is Owen Rees and Pen & Sword Military publish it. The book is 218 pages line and its ISBN is 9781473827301. The URL to the book is https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Great-Naval-Battles-of-the-Ancient-Greek-World-Hardback/p/14504

As you would expect there is also an introduction, glossary, conclusion, endnotes, select bibliography, acknowledgements and index.

While DeSantis covers various parts of the Peloponnesian War in greater detail than Rees, Rees is working to a broader canvas so appears to concentrate on only those battles he consider relevant to the argument.

Rees, as expected, starts his book with a discussion on the trireme, a tool central to any story concerning Greek naval warfare. He also looks at the differences between the different poleis, noting for examples that while a trireme normally carried a marine complement of 14 (10 hoplites and 4 archers), Athenian triremes generally had less to enable them to maintain their manoeuvrability while Corinthian triremes that specialised in boarding generally had more.

Rees follows with a brief discussion of Naval tactics covering the usual diekplous, kyklos, and periplous. The last section of the Introduction is where Rees discusses what a Great Battle is. He also notes that the Battle of Catane is included as part of the Hegemony period but notes its importance as a battle between Syracus and Carthage is perhaps for exposing Carthaginians to quadriremes and quinqueremes for the first time.

Leptines had already shown himself a capable commander, having been in charge of the fleet since the siege of Motya, at the latest. Within his fleet he is said to have had thirty superior ships, a crack force of the same number which had confronted the Carthaginian armada at the beginning of their expedition. It seems extremely probably that these thirty ships, or at least a proportion of them, were of the new designs: quadriremes and quinqueremes. This ships were bigger and more powerful, propelled forward for four or five men to each oar (an attribute which most likely gave the ships their names).

Rees covers each battle in the same manner, initially with a background, referencing a primary source. He indicates as a heading within the chapter the source used and the chapters within that source. After the back ground, the forces are identified (or estimated). The description of the battle itself follows, again with the source identified. There is a map outlining where Rees believes the opposing fleets deployed and then each battle section finishes with a discussion of the aftermath.

I am really enjoying this book (as I did his Classical Greek Warfare and DeSantis’s Naval Warfare of the Peloponnesian War).

Rees has an easy to read style and his book is a delight to read. I do recommend grabbing a copy of this (which is actually on sale currently at Pen and Sword), grab a good java, put your feet up, and then smell the salt in the air as you read of these classical battles of the past. For a wargamer, this will likely drag you into another period. For the general reader of military history, it will remind you of the importance of naval warfare in Classical Greece, as well as suggesting where the quadriremes and quinqueremes of the Punic Wars may have come from.

Well worth purchasing.

The AMX 13 Light Tank – Images of War – Review

The AMX-13 light tank is a French designed and built light tank with a production run from 1952 to 1987. In the French Army it was referred to as the Char 13t-75 Modèle 51. It was named after its initial weight of 13 tonnes and was a tough and reliable air-portable chassis. It was exported to more than 25 other nations. The AMX-13 was fitted with an oscillating turret built by GIAT Industries with revolver type magazines, which were also used on the Austrian SK-105 Kürassier. There are over a hundred variants including self-propelled guns, anti-aircraft systems, APCs, and ATGM versions.

The turret was to the back of the vehicle, with the engine the full length of the vehicle, driver on the other side. Total crew of three. The gun was aimed by rotating the elevating the turret to the target.

Guy Gibeau, Peter Lau, and M. P. Robinson have out together a complete pictorial history of the AMX-13 which is released as:

The AMX 13 Light Tank – A Complete History
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Images of War
Pages: 237
ISBN: 9781526701671
Published: 12th December 2018

The book covers the origins of the AMX-13 and its design and funding then looks at the various builds and marks as well as the export and second hand sales versions of the vehicle (for example, Peter Lau covers the Singapore Army’s AMX-13 that were acquired from Switzerland (150); India (150); and Israel (40).

The AMX -13 is currently deployed by:

  • Argentina: 58 AMX-13/105,24 AMX-VCI, 24 AMX F3 155mm and 2 AMX-13 PDP armoured bridge-layers
  • Ecuador: 108 AMX-13/105s
  • Indonesia: From the total of 275 only 120+ AMX-13/105 are still in service as 2018. Scheduled for replacement by the PT Pindad Harimau jointly developed by Indonesia and Turkey.
  • Morocco: 120 AMX-13/75s and 4 AMX-13 CD armoured recovery vehicles;[2] 5 operational.
  • Peru: 108 tanks; 30 AMX-13/75s and 78 AMX-13/105s
  • Venezuela: 67 AMX-13s; 36 AMX-13/75s and 31 AMX-13/90s

AMX-13 former operators:

  • Algeria: 44 AMX-13/75s
  • Austria: 72 AMX-13/75s and 3 AMX-13 CD armoured recovery vehicles
  • Belgium: 555 AMX-13s
  • Cambodia: 20 AMX-13/75s
  • Côte d’Ivoire: 5 AMX-13/75s
  • Djibouti: 60 AMX-13/90s
  • Dominican Republic: 15 AMX-13/75s
  • Egypt: 20 AMX-13/75s
  • France: 4,300 (of all types)
  • Guatemala: 8 AMX-13/75s
  • India: 164 AMX-13/75s
  • Israel: 400 AMX-13/75s
  • Lebanon: 75 tanks; 42 AMX-13/75s, 13 AMX-13/90s and 22 AMX-13/105s
  • Nepal: 56 AMX-13/75s
  • Netherlands: 131 AMX-13/105s, as AMX-13 PRLTTK (Pantserrups Lichte Tank) and 34 AMX-13 PRB (Pantserrups Berging) armoured recovery vehicles
  • Singapore: 340 second-hand AMX-13/75s
  • South Vietnam: 4 AMX-13 CD armoured recovery vehicles
  • Switzerland: 200 AMX-13/75s
  • Tunisia: 30 AMX-13/75s

The versatility of the tank is apparent from its multiple combat roles, being used as light tank, reconnaissance vehicle, self-propelled artillery platform, ATGM platform among others.

The book contains the following chapters:

  1. Origin
  2. Design, Funding and Production
  3. AMX13 Mle 51 Production Series
  4. Rebuilds and Upgrades
  5. The AMX13 Enters Service
  6. The AMX13 FL-11 and AMX-US
  7. The AMX13 Mle 58
  8. Division 1959
  9. The AMX13 SS-11
  10. The AMX13 C90
  11. The Division 1967
  12. Derivatives of the AMX 13
  13. The AMX13 as an Export Success
  14. Modernising the AMX13
  15. The AMX13 Mle 51 as a Combat Vehicle

The vehicle saw combat in the following wars:

  • Suez Crisis
  • Algerian War
  • Sand War
  • 1958 Lebanon crisis
  • Vietnam War
  • Cambodian Civil War
  • Dominican Civil War
  • Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
  • Six-Day War
  • Western Sahara War
  • Lebanese Civil War
  • Guatemalan Civil War

There were 7,700 vehicles built of which 3,400 were exported.

As we have come to expect with then Images at War series, there are a plethora of photographs of the vehicle at various times and in various roles.

I have always liked the lines of the modern French AFVs, the AMX30; the Leclerc; but the AMX13 is one of my all-time favourite vehicles. This is a recommended work for modern tank modellers and enthusiasts, military historians with an interest in modern AFVs and wargamers wanting background and weapon information on AFVs of the recent past – the last half of the 20th Century.

Available from Pen and Sword Books – the link is:

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-AMX-13-Light-Tank-Paperback/p/13645

Narrow Gauge in the Somme Sector – by Martin J. B. Farebrother, Joan S. Farebrother – Book Review

Something a little different for me although I guess like many wargamers, I do have at a minimum a passing interest in model railroading. My father was a fan of model railways and had an extensive layout in HO under the house in his retirement, with an Australian outline layout, particularly the New South Wales Government Railways. As a small child I had asked for a train set which I played with for about six weeks and which left my father hooked on model railroading for life. I diverged and became a wargamer but had spent many a pleasant hour with Dad talking railways, photographing them, building model kits for him and generally being one of his sounding boards when he needed some advice about some sticky issue with wiring or weathering or painting figures for his layout.

As a wargamer I have enjoyed various model railroad conventions and will from time to time pick up model railroad magazines, if only for modelling tips for terrain to use in a wargame.

This book covers a topic that crosses the boundaries between military history, model railroading and wargaming. Pen and Sword Books are releasing a series covering the Allied Railways of the Western Front (or rather more correctly I suppose, Triple Entente Railways of the Western Front). The first book in this series looked at the Arras Sector. This release covers Allied Railways of the Western Front – Narrow Gauge in the Somme Sector – Before, During and After the First World War. It has been written by Martin J. B. Farebrother and Joan S. Farebrother and is from the Pen & Sword Transport imprint. The book is 256 pages long and was published on 30 January 2019 (ISBN: 9781473887633).

The book covers the metre gauge networks built prior to the war, then the build up of the light (60cm gauge) railways around the French sector and then later the British and Dominion sectors. The book has a number of contemporary illustrations of both rolling stock as well as terminals and goods sidings. There are also illustrations of preserved narrow gauge locomotives from the period that are still existing in museums.

The book is well researched and follows a detailed process chapter by chapter where the flow of the text is secondary to the information passed along. In parts it is a difficult read however a fresh cup of a good java eases that problem.

The structure of the book is to look at the Somme Sector chronologically which shows the development of the narrow gauge rail systems from 1888 through to the commencement of the war in the Somme department as well as the Oise and Aisne departments, then during the First World War. The First World War sections are a general 60cm gauge light railways during the war (1914-1918); the light and metre gauge railways of the Somme battlefields 1916-16 March 2917; 17 March 1917 to 20 March 1918; 21 March to 7 August 1918; 8 August to 11 November 1918. This is followed by post war sections of the light railways of the Somme Sector 12 November 1918 t0 1974; metre gauge railways of the Somme department 12 November 1918 to 1955 and metre gauge railways of the Oise and Aisne departments 12 November 1918 to 1955. The main text of the book is rounded out with a chapter on things to see and do now.

To book has many maps of the railway lines and the connections between the 60cm narrow gauge and metre gauge lines. Also illustrated are the track plans to various stations. The track plans of the smaller stations and depots, many of which would provide an excellent track plan for the shunting puzzle are also mapped.

There has been a growing interest the railways of the First World War and model railways in particular with, for example, the Amiens 1918 OO9 narrow gauge railway modelled from the First World War being a good example.

This book is a very good summary of the railways of the time with a great deal of information contained. It has been well researched and from my perspective it has dominated my reading over the last few days, covering a topic that I knew nothing about but that I have now been researching further. I can recommend this book to those interested in the history of railways as well as readers into military history, particularly of the 20th century. It will also interest narrow gauge model railroaders and railway modellers who have more esoteric tastes than the regular modellers. It will also find some interest among the wargaming community, especially those taking more of an interest in the First World War.

This is a book I found particularly interesting and I am happy to recommend it. Best, it is on sale at Pen and Sword currently with a good discount (April 2019).

Recent Book Arrivals

I had a couple of packages arrive recently with the odd book to read. OK. so there was a lot. Some interesting titles in there however and I wuill get around to reviewing when I get a chance (which means when I actually finish reading a few. The temptation is to read them concurrently rather than serially. I shall try and resist that temptation.

The first batch will be pretty quick reading:

The second batch will tale a wee bit longer I will admit:

Mind you, I started on the second batch, in particular Steve Dunn’s. Southern Thunder, The Royal Navy and the Scandinavian Trade in World War One, which frankly I new absolutely nothing about. I can see some great scenarios for a wargame or three there as well as the need to acquire some more ships. Navwar order coming up.