This reference book on the infantry weapons of the main combatant nations of the Second World War is based around a collection of photographs from the remarkable Cobbaton Combat Collection in North Devon. Just over 150 weapons are included, with 500 colour photographs – just over three per weapon on average. The book is organised by type of gun, then in alphabetical order within the chapters (although Japanese weapons are normally gathered into a single article under J). This takes a little getting used to after using books with weapons organised by country, but the index does include the main entries (not always the case), so it is easy to find a particular weapon of interest.
Although the pictures are the main focus of this book, each weapon does get a reasonable write-up, with a brief account of the development of the weapon, its best and worst features, any distinctive design elements and its service career.
A book like this stands or falls on the quality of the photos, and in this case the photographs are excellent. Each weapon gets at least one good side view that, and with the book published at A4 size these pictures are sizable – full page width for rifles or machine guns, over half page size for pistols in most cases. There are also supporting pictures of unusual or distinctive features of the guns – loading mechanisms, sights, magazines and makers marks being common. Major variants also get their own pictures. Some more obscure weapons get a single picture (the De Lisle Silent Carbine for instance), leaving space for more lavish treatment of the more important or more famous weapons.