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Osprey New Vanguard 280, World War II German Super-Heavy Siege Guns

ISBN Number:
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Osprey Publishing
Retail Price:
$19.00 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Osprey New Vanguard

World War II German Super-Heavy Siege Guns


Since 1969, Osprey has published a staggering number ( 3000+ ! ) of military history titles, grouped by subject matter such as ; Campaigns, Weapons, Uniforms, Men at Arms, and many others. They also have published an extensive line of titles aimed squarely at modelers. These tiles generally all share some "family" resemblance such as general size, format, and price range.

The New Vanguard series from Osprey covers a wide range of weapons of war, including naval and land warfare subjects; ships, artillery, armored fighting vehicles and more. The subject of this book fits squarely into the New Vanguard line.

German heavy siege guns saw fairly heavy use in in the static warfare of World War I, with some of the surviving guns going on to see use in World War II. There was much less of that sort of static warfare in World War II, but there were still opportunities for employment of the big siege guns in places like the Maginot Line, Sevastopol, and the Leningrad Front to name a few. Nazi Germany expended much money and a huge amount of precious industrial effort in constructing super heavy siege guns for use in WWII, resources which likely would have been much more effective spent elsewhere.

Vital Statistics

Format - softcover, portrait format 

Page Count - 48 pages

Size - 10.0" x 7.25"

Photos - black and white period images

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - one data table, some artist renderings of the various guns 

 All text and photograph captions are in English.

 What's in the Book?


Above - the book's table of contents, listing the guns examined in this volume.

Following a quick Introduction, the authors methodically discuss the design and development of the various super heavy siege guns used in World War II, including the guns of World War I that were pressed into service when the newly ( just pre-war, late 1930's ) designed guns weren't ready in time for use in World War II's early campaigns. The second half of the book concerns itself with the operational use and actions where these monster siege guns were used.


This volume examines the heavy siege guns produced for use in World War I, which were then rolled out to serve again when World War II erupted. These guns included heavies from Krupp as well as from the Czech Skoda firm. The book also examines the howitzers and heavy mortars specificallly developed for World War II, which includes the "mobile" Karl Morser types ( seen in the above image ) as well as the jaw dropping 80cm Gustavo-Gerat railway gun, commonly called the "Dora", the only Gun of this class to fire any shots in anger.


Above - the illustrations / artist renderings in this volume are quite well done, showing a good amount of detail. The illustrations of the Dora rail gun are so large that they had to laid into the book perpendicular to the text requiring the reader to turn the book sideways to view them. 


The photographs are of very high interest to those interested in these guns, I just wish that they were a bit larger. Some of the photographs are just a bit dark as well. But as always, a slightly imperfect photo of an interesting subject surely beats no photo at all! 

The text and photo captioning throughout the book is very good. The text is well written and easily followed while giving a good amount of information on these guns and their employment.


Above - the layout of the book's text, tables and photos is user friendly and logical. 


Above - the drawings / artist renderings are very well done.

This book comes to it's all too quick end with a brief concluding section where the authors come to a ( quite justifiable ) conclusion that the super heavy siege guns contribution to the German war effort was negligible, and follows up with a short Bibliography and Index.


The subject matter of this book will be of good interest to those interested in artillery, World War II in general, or those interested in weapons systems that despite immense cost, were ultimately less than effective weapons.

The text based information found in the book is very well presented, and the illustrations are very well done. The photographs are well chosen for interest, but they are somewhat small in size making details rather hard to make out. The 48 page format that Osprey adheres to in this series of books didn't do this book ( nor it's authors, I suspect ) any favors. I'd love to see the subject of this book in a much larger format book, with correspondingly larger, brighter photographs. However, a smaller volume such as this one ( with a modest price point I must add ), is preferable to no book at all!

The above said, I still enjoyed this book due to its subject matter. It is clearly beyond a simple basic primer on the super heavy siege guns and does cover the subject matter well, despite the limited pages. Your mileage may vary, but this volume left me hungry for more.


Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland 

AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region 


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