Current reading is from the series, History of Terror. This covers the period of the Allies liberation of the Philippines, and Manila in Particular.
When the Japanese invaded, the then colonial masters, the Americans, had declared Manila an open city to prevent damage and human casualties.
When the Americans along with support from local guerrillas moved on Manila to liberate it, the Japanese commander, Yamashita, ordered Manila to be fiercely defended. What followed was a liberation, almost building by building. However it was the Japanese treatment of the local population that was most horrific with estimates of 100,000 civilians being slaughtered. There is no true count however and other estimates are higher.
Review to follow when I finish reading this book. It is available from Pen & Sword however if your curiosity is already peaked.
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 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.
I do love the Little Wars TV YouTube channel, the guys are like so many of my mates from various wargame clubs over the years and in different countries, where winning is not as important as the game and fun was the target of the game. Little Wars TV recently decided to re-fight the first couple of days of D-Day, given that it is the 75th anniversary this year. The re-fight was controlled using modified Rommel rules (thanks guys, I am now considering getting yet another set of rules). For previous World War 2 games they have used Fistful of TOWs.
Part 1 of the two part video covers the objectives for each side, the landings and the drive inland from the beaches.
The second part covers D+1 – where the Allies will attempt to consolidate and meet their objectives and the Germans will attempt to both prevent the Allies reaching objectives but also achieve some objectives of their own.
Well worth watching these and as I mentioned, this has reawakened my interest in trying out Rommel as a set of World War 2 wargaming rules. I would also strongly recommend a visit to the Little Wars TV website to both see what’s new and interesting, grab some free stuff and check out their other videos. Thanks guys, love your work!
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
Priest Contracts and Deliveries
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.
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:
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.
In November 2017 I added a small World War 2 force of Belgians to my Blitzkrieg Commander armies. Looking for some additions to my collections (it’s not like I have nothing left to paint however), I thought that as I had acquired the figures for a Cold War Commander French force, it would be neat to have the same for World War 2. This has also led me into a lot of reading about the French in World War 2. I must admit that I only had the old stereotypes in mind – dodgy commanders, no radios, poor quality weapon systems etc. I am rapidly rethinking those as I read and understand more.
The first thing I did was to try and understand French Infantry and Armour organisation during that period. So far my searches of this across the Internet have not been as fruitful as I had hoped. However, I think I have enough information now to move forward a little.
My infantry organisation for the French for Blitzkrieg Commander is based around an infantry battalion consisting of three companies of 12 elements to the company. Each element/base (Section above) will have about 5 or 6 figures on it and represent a section. Three sections to a platoon, four platoons to a company, three companies to a battalion.
For armour I am assuming five Renault R35 tanks to a tank platoon or three of any of the other types. I am not certain currently how many platoons work up to the higher organisations so any advice will be greatly appreciated.
So, what did I purchase? To make up a chunky force, I purchased from both Scotia Grendel and Heroics and Ros. I am looking at one company of Infantry (so 36 elements/bases) plus heavy weapons etc. Several platoons of armour, both light and heavy. Two or three batteries of artillery and a few aircraft thrown into the mix for the some variety. So, I purchased the following:
Citroen Kegrese SPAA
Laffly S20TL Command
Peugeot 402 staff car
Latil M7T1 Field Car
Infantry (50 figures)
Infantry with Command (50 figures maybe)
Infantry (50 figures each packet)
Heavy Weapons Packet
Heavy Weapons approx. 50 figures
French gun crew kneeling (5 figures each)
Panhard AMD 178 A/C
Laffly V15R Recce Car
Char B1 Heavy Tank
Char B1 Heavy Tank
Hotchkiss H39 Light Tank
Renault AMC 35 Light Tank
Renault Ft 17
Laffly W 15 TCC tank hunter + 47mm (Portee)
105mm Schneider 1913 gun
75mm field gun
French 47mm AT
French 25mm AT
Twin 13.2mm AAMG
Tracked personnel trailer
Lorraine 38L APC Gun Tractor
Horse Drawn 75mm Gun (3 teams each of 4 horses , 1 limber, 1 gun)
Laffly W15R prime mover
Citroen 10cv C4F 4×2 1000kg truck
Citroen 45u Heavy Truck (Covered Top)
Renault ADK Truck (Covered Top)
Liore Et Olivier Leo 451
In addition to the above, I also purchased a 47mm FRC A/T Gun from Scotia for my Belgians along with the following buildings, also from Scotia:
The cost for all these models and buildings came to £108.50 (not counting postage) – slightly more than my July wargaming allowance*. Now I am waiting their arrival so that I can add them to the painting queue. The Scotia order is somewhere in customs I believe at NAIA airport. The Heroics and Ros order was only made on 3 August (hmm, maybe within August budget then 🙂 ) so I do not expect that for at least another four to six weeks. The delay is not the at the Heroics and Ros end, their turnaround is usually quite good, but rather parcels working their way through the Philippine Postal Service.
Looking at the list of figures above, perhaps I should have calculated these things ahead of time, I think I need another three artillery pieces and I maybe have enough infantry for one more company of infantry (4 companies instead of three).
Hmm, maybe a slight over achievement.
* I must admit that I also spent my June and May allowance and half my August allowance at the same time and, as a result, have a number of other batches of figures and a couple of board games on the way. Now will be a period of painting to reduce the size of the painting queue a wee bit, as well as catch up on reading some books.
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’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.
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:
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
Vosper designs 1941
Vosper designs 1942
Vosper designs 1943-45
The Elco 70ft PT
The Elco 77ft PT
The Elco 80ft PT
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, 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I mentioned that Blitzkrieg Commander IV was being released at Salute last Saturday. Those of us with digital copies however managed to get our hands on it a couple of days sooner than those waiting on physical copies.
It is much better than BKC III was. The army lists have been corrected, at least the ones I had a look at seemed to be better aligned with Historical organization and equipment.
I’m looking forward to some downtime soon so I can read these in detail and maybe organise a little Soviet on Soviet action to test them out.
I believe the hard copies of the rules are mostly in the post to those who ordered BKC III previously, us digital folks already have our copies. World War II micro armour has suddenly just become more interesting, just as I have a mountain of modern Poles and French to paint for Cold War Commander!
Back in May 2017 I published a couple of blog posts here in Thomo’s Hole on the furore that surrounded the release of Blitzkrieg Commander III (BKC III) by Pendraken Miniatures. See Blitzkrieg Commander III and Blitzkrieg Commander III – The Final Decision for my thoughts at that time. There were a considerable number of flaws in the rules and the BKC playing community was almost unanimous in its criticism of the rules. This left Pendraken with a commercially difficult decision to make at the time and they decided:
to pull PKB III from sale
to provide a copy of BKC III.1 when it is produced
to attempt to do it all over a three month period
This has, of course, cost Pendraken moneywise but again I can only applaud Pendraken for their commitment to quality. While Pendraken were originally hoping to have a corrected BKC III (called BKC III.1) over about a three month period they have taken the option of taking their time and doing it right, judging by the reviews I have read recently.
It has taken nearly two years to correct BKC III and this correction will be released early in April 2019, at Salute, as Blitzkrieg Commander IV. Blitzkrieg Commander IV contains 44 army lists and 15 scenarios. Pendraken also note that a Quick Reference Sheet, Optional Rules and further material can be found in the Blitzkrieg Commander IV section of the Pendraken Forum.
Given the problems with BKC III I guess there will be some caution from wargamers about this new release, some reluctance to be early adopters of this version. I would also expect that many gamers who would have tried BKC may have, over the last two years, drifted off to other World War II wargaming rules. Recognizing the caution of gamers after the last release, I note that Pendraken have some reviews of the new rules out already from some veteran gamers and some who were rather critical of the previous release. Positive reviews have been provided by Mal Wright and Nik Harwood that I have seen to date.
Now our first priority is to get a copy of BKC-IV out to everyone who bought BKC-III when it was released. How this is done will depend on how you purchased originally:
Bought Online / Not going to Salute 2019
– You will already be in the replacement queue and don’t need to do anything. Your copy will ship out first, possibly before we leave for Salute but most likely on the Monday/Tuesday after the show. If you’ve moved house since April 2017, you’ll need to drop us an email with your new address.
Bought Online / Going to Salute 2019
– Please contact us to let us know that you will be attending Salute and we will pull your original order from the replacement queue. We’ll bring your new copy along to Salute for you.
Bought at Salute / Not going to Salute 2019
– If you bought at Salute but won’t be attending this year, we’ll need you to either send us the cover of your BKC-III book, or a picture of it by email, along with the address that you’d like your replacement sending to. We apologise for the hassle involved in doing this, but it’s the only way for us to verify that you bought a copy of BKC-III. If you’re outside the UK, it’s probably easier to send a photo, but contact us if you’re having any problems.
Bought at Salute / Going to Salute 2019
– If you’ll be attending Salute again this year, simply bring your copy of BKC-III along to the show and we’ll swap it for a shiny new copy of BKC-IV! If you’d like to keep hold of the previous rules for any reason, we’ll need to either remove the cover or mark the inside to show that the copy has been replaced.
Bought on Wargame Vault
– You don’t need to do anything at all, you will receive your new pdf copy of BKC-IV through Wargame Vault automatically. We don’t have a confirmed date for this just yet, but you should receive your replacement pdf by Monday 8th at the latest.
If there’s any queries on that, please let me know and we’ll get you sorted out. If you’ve already been in touch or given us your BKC-III cover, then you’re already in the replacement system and don’t need to worry.
So, more power to Leon at Pendraken for doing not just a good thing but also the right thing for hos customers.