Osprey Publishing is very well known for it's many book lines, which are grouped by type, such as their "Men at Arms", "Weapon", and "Campaign" series, just to name a few. This new title is in Osprey's New Vanguard line, which is itself a wide-ranging line that covers a large variety of military topics of interest. The New Vanguard line made its debut in 1993, with a book on the German Tiger I. This volume is number 249 of the series, all of which that I've seen are of the same size and format.
Format - softcover, portrait format
Page Count - 48 pages, heavyweight, glossy paper
Size - 10.0" x 7.25"
Photos - many period Black and White
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - several tables of production numbers by year, full color drawings
All text and photograph captions are in English.
This book opens with a brief Introduction on the earliest history of the development and use of railway guns, some of which surprised me greatly. For example; the first use of rail-mounted artillery came far earlier and an ocean away from the battlefields of World War I...being introduced in 1862 by Confederate forces during what's commonly called the American Civil War. The second use of railway artillery was in almost as unexpected a location and timeframe, but no more spoilers here. You'll just have to buy the book.
Following the informative Introduction, the book immediately begins it's chronological account of the use of railguns in World War I. As this is a rather slim volume, no space is wasted on fluff. The authors are quick to get to the topic at hand, and they move from nation to nation, year by year in an orderly, concise fashion, packing this book with a lot of hard information.
For a book of this size, there is an unexpectedly large number of full color illustrations of many of these railway guns. Some of these illustrations provide the reader with a good impression of what these monsters may have looked like in their camouflage paint schemes.
Railway guns covered in this volume include those of the major powers on both sides of the trenches in World War I, including the French, British, Germans and even the Yanks who surprisingly fielded a total of five railway guns in WWI action ( interestingly crewed by US Navy gunners ). Italian and Russian guns are discussed as well.
This book includes several simple tables giving statistics on numbers of guns fielded and the ranges of the various models.
Most of the photographs seen in this volume are largely crisp and clear. I cannot help but wish that they were somewhat larger, so more details could be made out. Most of the photographic images are in the 1/4 to 1/3 page size, with some of the full color drawings being a bit larger.
Most of the photographs were originally composed in a manner to get most of the gun in the picture, with only a few select images taken in a more close-up, in detail manner.
The photograph captions throughout the book are well written, with good descriptions of what the reader is seeing, with the where's and when's provided as well. The photo captions, as well as the book's text in general, is clearly written and easy to read.
Please Note - my scans do not do adequate justice to how well this book is printed, nor to the overall quality of the images in this book.
Within the space limitations of just a mere 48 pages, the authors do a wonderful job of providing a terrific amount of information on the railway guns of the Great War. Naturally though, because of those space limitations, this book may leave the reader wishing for just a bit more in the way of detailed images of these guns. As a source for some initial knowledge and some nice photographs, this book fills the need nicely. It would serve very well for the first step down the path of learning more about these guns and their history.
The photographs and full color renderings between the covers of this book are quite nice, the photo captions and text is very well done. The amount and quality of information presented by the authors is impressive.
From a model builder's point of view, while I wish that there were more in-detail style photographs contained within this book, I realise that this book is targeted as much ( or more ) for history buffs as it is for military modelers. Interestingly, this book has some great images of interesting, unusual subjects that kit manufacturers have largely overlooked and might want to consider marketing. I'd LOVE to see kits of some of the monsters shown in this volume. A book that sparks that sort of interest ( at least for myself ) has done it's job in my opinion.
Thanks go out to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
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