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General - German - Soviet - United Kingdom - United States

General

Tiger vs Churchill North-West Europe, 1944-45, Neil Grant. Looks at the design and development of these two tanks as well as how they performed in Normandy. Acknowledges that they didn’t perform the same role and rarely actually clashed face to face, but still does a good job of comparing their contributions to the overall campaign and examining how well they performed their intended role as well as looking at one of the few large scale clashes between the two (Read Full Review)
The Suomi Submachine Gun, Leroy Thompson. Looks at the main Finnish submachine gun during the Winter War and to a lesser extent the Continuation Wars, focusing not just on what made it distinctive technically, but also on how it was used by the Finns to increase the firepower of their hit-and-run raiders, and the wider significance of that combat experience, which turned the SMG from a specialist weapon into a mainstay of the infantry. (Read Full Review)
Bazooka vs Panzer - Battle of the Bulge 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the way in which the bazooka actually worked, its development into a working weapon, and how it was used in combat, with one case study from the Ardennes. Also covers the various German defensive measures often said to have been  introduced in response to the bazooka, but that mainly turn out to have been responses to threats on the Eastern Front, and that often had little impact against the bazooka(Read Full Review)
Railway Guns – British and German Guns at War, John Goodwin. After a rather rushed introduction, really gets into its stride when discussing British railway guns in the south-east during the Second World War, looking at the demands they made on the rail network, how the individual guns were operated, where they were located, what their targets were, and many of the occasions on which they fired. Supported throughout by an impressive collection of photographs covering the full range of the topic [read full review]
Railway Guns of World War II, Steven J. Zaloga. Although the heyday of the railway gun came during the First World War, the most famous example of the type, the massive German 80cm K(E) guns 'Dora' and 'Gustav', came from the Second World War. In reality these were useless vanity projects, but as this book makes clear every major combatant used a least a handful of railway guns during the Second World War. This book combines  brief technical descriptions of each country's railway guns with a look at their combat service [read full review]
Mortars in World War II, John Norris. Looks at one of the most important infantry support weapons of the Second World War. Contains a great deal of material, looking at each area of conflict from Poland in 1939 to the final fighting in 1945, the way mortars were used by each army and the type of mortars in use. Suffers from a rather odd structure, which can make it a bit confusing on occasions, but still a useful book. [read full review]
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Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, ed. Chris Bishop. Based on the Orbis War Machine series of the 1980s some of the post-war material is now badly dated, but the main articles are still valid, and the book covers a massive range of military equipment, from the latest jet aircraft to trucks and light vehicles. Well illustrated, and good at tracing the development of weapon types and the relationship between different items. [read full review]
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The Bofors Gun, Terry Gander. Looks at the long history of the Bofors guns, most famous as a naval anti-aircraft gun of the Second World War, but that is still be produced in new version today, eighty years after it was first designed. Looks at all of the producers and users of the gun and the many versions that have been developed. A very useful reference work. [read full review]
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Compared and Contrasted: Weapons of World War II, Michael E. Haskew. Compares competing weapons systems using a series of generally well designed illustrations, allowing the reader to get an idea of how the different tanks, aircraft, guns and ships of particular periods compared to each other. A nice idea that makes it easier to visualise some of the reality behind the dry statistics that normally describe these weapon systems. [read full review]
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Infantry Weapons of World War II, Jan Suermondt. A photographic reference work on the infantry weapons used by the main combatant nations during the Second World War, based around a remarkable collection of photos of the weapons held by the Cobbaton Combat Collection in Devon. Contains 500 high quality pictures of 150 weapons, supported by some useful text. [read full review]
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Small Arms 1914-1945, Michael E. Haskew. A largely chronological look at the development of small arms during the two World Wars, organised into chapters based on different parts of the conflict, subdivided by nations or major battles. Makes it easier to compare the weapons in use by the different nations at any one time. [read full review]
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Atomic: The First War of Physics, Jim Baggott. A look at the race to develop the atom bomb that clearly explains the science behind the bomb and the problems faced in turning theory into practise, looking at the British, German, American and Soviet bomb programmes from the point of view of the individual scientists and of the Allied and Soviet spies attempting to discover what their enemies and allies knew or were capable of. [read full review]
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Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War, James P. Delgado. A look at the development of the Nuclear Bomb from the first research in radiation, to the wartime development and use of the first atom bombs and on to the tests at Bikini Atoll and the early years of the Cold War. [read full review]
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World War II Small Arms, Colonel John WeeksThis is a colourful and detailed book by Colonel John Weeks which looks at the rapid development of small arms during the Second world War. It is full of colour illustrations, excellent cut away diagrams and contemporary photographs of the weapons described [see more] Description
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German

Walther Pistols PP, PPK and P 38, John Walter. Looks at the design of Walther’s line of pistols, from the Modell 1 of 1911, through the three most famous types and onto to post war production, along with their production history, descriptions of how they worked, and a look at who used them and where they were sold. The descriptions of how the guns worked is of particular interest, as is the development history (Read Full Review)
German Tank Destroyers, Pierre Tiquet. An excellent collection of photographs of the main German tank destroyers of the Second World War, with a somewhat less satisfactory text that wanders between excellent sections analysis the performance of the vehicles and otheres that can be rather too congratulationary in tone and appears to use wartime Nazi propaganda for many of its eyewitness accounts, without explaining where each source came from. (Read Full Review)
The German MG 34 & MG 42 Machine Guns in World War II, Luc Guillou & Erik Dupont. A very detailed examination of two of the most significant German weapons of the Second World War, focusing largely on their design, manufacture and how they actually worked, as well as the accessories that helped make them so effective, including the various mounts and optics designed to go with them. Includes an excellent description of how the guns actually worked, with a step by step account of each movement, and all supported by an impressive array of photographs (mainly modern pictures of surviving examples). (Read Full Review)
World War II German Super-Heavy Siege Guns, Marc Romanych & Martin Rupp. Looks at the heaviest siege artillery used by the Germans during the Second World War, from the super-heavy but essentially useless 80cm railway guns ‘Dora’ and ‘Gustav’ to the old First World War guns pressed into service. Nicely organised, with their combat record examined campaign by campaign, and with a useful emphasis on how the guns were actually used in practice(Read Full Review)
Jagdtiger: Design, Production, Operations, Christopher Meadows. A detailed study of the heaviest and best armed armoured vehicle of the Second World War, the 12.8cm armed Jagdtiger, tracing its development from the original specification to the eventual vehicle, the production difficulties, and its complete combat career, which didn’t begin until January 1945 and only involved two units. [read full review]
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German Heavy Artillery Guns 1933-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Despite the title actually covers light, medium and heavy artillery as well as mortars and anti-tank guns (excludes railway guns, flak and rocket launchers). Each gets a useful write-up, supported by stats and at least one photo. Covers German-built guns and the many types captured and used by the Wehrmacht. [read full review]
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Images of War: German Half-Tracks at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A photographic study of the half-track, a key component in the German Blitzkrieg, allowing the infantry and support troops to keep up with the rapidly moving panzers. A very focused book covering all types of half-track, organised in chronological order and of great value to anyone with an interest in this topic. [read full review]
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German Half-Tracks and Wheeled Vehicles 1939-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Looks at the armoured cars and half-tracks used by the German Army before and during the Second World War, focusing on the development and technical descriptions of each type and its major variants. Each type gets one or two pages, supported by photos of the vehicle. A useful short reference book on these essential vehicles, covering both the many types developed in Germany and the smaller number of captured vehicles pressed into service. [read full review]
German Weapons of World War II, Stephen Hart . Covers a wide range of the weapons used by the Third Reich during the Second World War, from the pistol up to the battleship Tirpitz, and including a wide range of tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, artillery etc. All supported by a mix of full colour illustrations and contemporary photographs, giving an idea of vast range of weapons produced by the Germans during the war (Read Full Review)
Panzer Divisions 1944-45, Pier Paolo Battistelli. This lavishly illustrated Osprey covers the later days of the German panzer divisions, including background on weapons, tactics, operations and silhouette style organisational charts. A fascinating period, with the once feared panzer divisions no longer kings of the battlefield but still a powerful force and capable of small scale victories against the vast tide of Soviet, British and American forces [read full review]
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German Guided Missiles of World War II – Fritz X to Wasserfall and X-4, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the various German anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles that either entered service, or were close to doing so, during the Second World War. Only the anti-shipping missiles actually reached the combat stage, and during 1943 achieved a number of successes during the Italian campaign, most famously sinking the Italian battleship Italia as it was attempting to surrender. Covers the technical side, the development history, and for those that had one the combat record of each of the main weapons, supported by good illustrations of all but the most obscure of weapons. (Read Full Review)

Soviet

Russian Tanks of World War II – 1939-1945, Stephen Hart. Looks at the tanks used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, from the obsolete light tanks of the 1930s to the excellent T-34 and their increasingly powerful heavy tanks, as well as their self-propelled guns, and even the many types of western tanks sent to the Soviet Union under lend-lease. Most tanks get a page or two, with a brief history, a technical description, notes on their performance, stats and a side-on full colour illustration (Read Full Review)
Soviet Armoured Cars 1936-45, Jamie Prenatt. A useful look at the main types of armoured cars produced in the Soviet Union before and during the Second World War, looking at nine main types and their use in combat in Spain, the Far East, Poland, Finland and during the Second World War, including an example of how the lessons of combat could be misleading, after the armoured cars were able to compete on an equal footing with the very light tanks found in the earlier battles (Read Full Review)
BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the fast BT series tanks, based on the American Christie tank. Produced in vast numbers in the Soviet Union in several main variants, the BT tanks were used in Spain, against Japan on the Mongolian border and during the Winter War, before being destroyed in equally vast numbers during the first year of the Great Patriotic War. Traces the development of the Soviet version of the tank, the many versions produced, and its mainly unimpressive combat career. [read full review]
The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, Bill Harriman. Looks at the main Russian and Soviet rifle of the First and Second World Wars, a robust weapon that first appeared in the 1890s, but went on to serve in gradually improved versions for over half a century. Written by a weapons collector and high quality history, so we get both halves of the story - the history of the weapon and what it was like to actually operate it (Read Full Review)
Russian Weapons of World War II, David Porter. A good overview of the weapons used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, ranging from individual infantry weapons up to the battleships of the Soviet fleet, as well as the various lend lease items that supported the Soviet war effort. Well illustrated, acknowledges the problems dealing with Soviet sources, and accurate in areas of some confusion (such as the various types of artillery pieces in service) (Read Full Review)

United Kingdom

The Piat – Britain’s anti-tank weapon of World War II, Matthew Moss. A good examination of the PIAT, the British Army’s most effective man portable infantry anti-tank weapon of the Second World War, looking at how it was developed, how it actually operated, and how effective it was in combat, where it was used against armour, against strong points and as a light mortar. Tracings its use in Italy, Normandy and afterwards, Warsaw and the Far East, as well as its limited post-war career(Read Full Review)
Valentine Infantry Tank 1938-45, Bruce Oliver Newsome. Looks at the most numerous British tank of the Second World War, but one that only saw limited combat service, mainly in North Africa. Notable for the amount of information packed into a series of tables, including specifications and identifying features of the many versions of the Valentine, as well as the interesting material on the interior of the tank, how it was driven, and on the many special variants such as the Archer self -propelled gun, which carried its main gun pointing backwards. [read full review]
Images of War: British Tanks of the Second World War, Pat Ware. A good quality selection of photos, organised by the British designations (Light, Cruiser, Infantry and Heavy), along with chapters on the development of the tank, American tanks in British service and the 'funnies' that were the most important British contribution to wartime tank design. [read full review]
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Bren Gun Carrier – Britain’s Universal War Machine, Robert Jackson. A look at one of the most numerous tracked vehicles in British service during the Second World War, originally designed to carry machine guns to the location where they were needed, but soon adapted to fulfil a much wider range of functions. Found wherever British and Commonwealth forces fought during the Second World War, this was one of the most flexibly vehicles in British service (Read Full Review)

United States

155mm Gun M1 ‘Long Tom’ and 8in Howitzer in WWII and Korea, David Doyle. A photographic history of the closely related 155mm Gun and 8in Howitzer, two key pieces of American artillery during the Second World War and in Korea. Includes a brief history of the gun, a section of detailed pictures of parts of the guns, a chapter on the machines used to tow and supply the guns, while the largest chapter, filling half of the book, looks at the two guns combat record in the Second World War and Korea (Read Full Review)
The M1 Carbine, Roger Out. A detailed examination of the American M1 Carbine, developed for use by support troops, the artillery etc during the Second World War, but which went on to be used in a wider range of roles in the post-war period, gaining a somewhat controversial reputation when misused as a frontline weapon. A very good examination of the development of the carbine and how it worked, followed by a very detailed look at the minor changes during its production run and the markings used by the many different manufacturers who built the M1 (Read Full Review)
Ford M8 and M20 – The US Army’s Standard Armoured Car of WWII, David Doyle. A pictorial history of the M8 armoured car and M20 utility vehicle, both of which saw service in Italy, Normandy and north-western Europe and to a lesser extent in the Pacific. Very good material on the development of the vehicle, and close up pictures of development and test vehicles as well as modern survivors, along with a useful chapter of pictures of the vehicle in service. Probably aimed more at the modeller than the historian, and will provide many useful details of otherwise hard to examine areas (Read Full Review)
American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green. An excellent look at the development of American armoured vehicles in the inter-war period and during the Second World War, linking the individual vehicles to US army doctrine to produce a valuable picture of what was produced and just as importantly why, and how well the equipment that entered service actually performed. [read full review]
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