The Kalashnikov AK-47 is the most ubiquitous assault rifle in the world, with more AK-47s and its variants in use than any other individual small arm. Created by Senior Sergeant Mikhail Kalashnikov, and first adopted by the USSR soon after World War II, its production continues to this day, with an estimated 75 million produced worldwide. It is the longest serving post-World War II military weapon and its ease of use, durability and low production costs ensure that it's use will continue for generations to come. This book takes a look at the complete history of the weapon, discussing its design, development, and usage, taking its story from the great armies of the Soviet Union to the insurgents and criminal gangs that often employ the weapon today.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Harpers Ferry raid confirmed for many Southerners the existence of a widespread Northern plot against slavery. In fact, Brown had raised funds for his raid from Northern abolitionists. To arm the slaves, he ordered one thousand pikes from a Connecticut manufacturer. Letters to Governor Wise betrayed the mixed feelings people held for Brown. For some, he was simply insane and should not be hanged. For others, he was a martyr to the cause of abolition, and his quick trial and execution reflected the fear and arrogance of the Virginia slave-owning aristocracy. Many Northerners condemned Brown's actions but thought him right in his conviction that slavery had to end. John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and his subsequent execution further polarized North and South and made a solution of the slavery issue central to the national debate which ultimately led to Civil War in 1861.
The bazooka was the popular name given to the innovative US rocket-propelled, man-portable antitank weapon that saw widespread service with US and other forces from 1942 to the early 1980s and was described by Eisenhower as one of the four "Tools of Victory" - with the atom bomb, the Jeep, and the C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft - that won World War II for the Allies.Most belligerents entering World War II armed their infantry with bulky and ineffectual antitank rifles as their primary means of combating tanks, but US planners realized that what infantrymen needed was a relatively lightweight, man-portable antitank weapon that was simple to operate, accurate, and capable of knocking out the average tank at a reasonable range, while also being effective against fortified buildings, pillboxes, and personnel in the open. The bazooka combined a revolutionary new antitank rifle-grenade warhead, a much-modified British antiaircraft rocket motor, and a cobbled-together launcher tube and electrical firing system; its first test-firing astounded observers, and it was immediately adopted by the US armed forces.Although the bazooka and its ammunition suffered teething problems, US and other troops quickly found the bazooka was highly effective against an enormous variety of targets. The weapon was widely used in all theaters of war; bazookas were provided as on-vehicle equipment for some armored fighting vehicles, and were even mounted under the wings of Piper Cub spotter aircraft to mark targets for fighter-bombers, and in multiple mounts on patrol torpedo boats targeting Japanese shipping. The Germans captured bazookas in North Africa and rapidly developed their own version, the formidable Panzerschreck, while the Chinese and Japanese copied the bazooka's revolutionary design.The bazooka was not without its drawbacks, however. It was sensitive to extremes of temperature and moisture, while the large backblast and smoke trail gave away the position of the shooter, and bazooka fire teams often had to move out of cover to obtain a clear shot. Rapid improvements in German tank armor meant that in the European theater the bazooka came to be seen as a "last resort" rather than an offensive weapon. Even so, the bazooka continued to see widespread service in Korea, where the original 2.36in models were supplanted by the 3.5in "super bazooka," also issued to many NATO forces. In the early 1960s the 3.5in was replaced in US Army service by the 90mm M67 recoilless rifle and the 66mm M72 light antitank weapon (LAW), a single-shot rocket launcher similar to the bazooka. The US Marine Corps, though, retained the 3.5in as an assault weapon throughout the Vietnam era and into the early 1980s.Featuring specially drawn color artwork, this engaging study tells the story of the bazooka, which set the standard for future light antitank weapons and their ammunition, and was a key influence on antitank tactics and techniques in the postwar era.
With his forces having conquered a huge swathe of formerly Soviet territory in the months following the launch of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Hitler planned to continue the Germans' strategic offensive against the Soviet Union's oil-production capacity in the southern Caucasus region during the summer of 1942. To help pave the way for regular forces, the Abwehr (German military intelligence) sent forward 'Brandenburger' commando units to pave the way using tactics that had proven successful throughout the previous Western and Balkan campaigns. These commandos would secure oil-producing assets until more conventional forces from 1. Panzerarmee and 17. Armee could arrive in strength. Specially trained in foreign cultures and military vehicles, small-unit tactics, parachuting, sabotage, reconnaissance, assassination and deception techniques, these elite commandos usually operated in company-sized units or smaller and recruited many 'non-Aryan' native speakers of those languages spoken in the target countries.In early August 1942, a small Brandenburger unit of Baltic and Sudeten Germans led by Freiherr Adrian von Fölkersam penetrated far ahead of German regular forces to seize Soviet oil facilities around Maikop. Disguised as members of Stalin's NKVD, the repressive police organisation dreaded by most Soviet citizens and soldiers, Fölkersam's command passed through the Soviet front lines using captured trucks and moved deep into hostile territory, where the chaos of the Soviet battlefield situation aided in their passing as 'official'. As regular German forces approached after several days, the Brandenburgers went into action using grenades to simulate an artillery attack before disabling Maikop's military communication network. Having previously seen Fölkersam with their commander, and lacking any communications to rebut or confirm his statement, the Soviets began to evacuate Maikop at Fölkersam's urging. The German spearhead entered the city on 9 August 1942 against minimal resistance and found that several oil-production facilities were still functioning.Featuring specially drawn full-colour artwork and expert analysis of the Maikop operation, this assessment of the dramatic raid that delivered intact Soviet oil-production facilities into Nazi hands casts new light of the German special-forces operations on the Eastern Front.
In 1990 the Beretta M9 replaced the venerable Colt 1911 as the main pistol of choice for the US Army. At the time the decision was controversial particularly because it was perceived that a smaller caliber weapon such as the Beretta would lack the necessary stopping power and range in comparison to the .45 caliber Colt. The situation was not helped by the rumour that the adoption of this Italian designed pistol was in exchange for the creation of US missile bases within Italy. Nonetheless, the Beretta, although not a perfect pistol, has since proved many of its distractors wrong with widespread use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Written by a leading pistol expert who currently trains US Special Forces in the use of this weapon, this book is an honest appraisal of the successes and failings of the Beretta design. The volume traces the Beretta designs, which preceded the M9 as well as its use on the battlefield, including the impact it has had on close combat training due to the larger magazine capacity. It also details the adoption of the Beretta by US law enforcement agencies and the impact this has had. This is a fascinating history of a classic pistol and its future use.From the Trade Paperback edition.
By late 1942 Britain had developed an airborne capability that would obtain its baptism of fire versus German airborne in North Africa and Sicily. On three notable occasions British airborne infantry fought intense battles with its German counterpart: twice in North Africa and again at Primosole Bridge in Sicily. Both forces were well trained and equipped, with a similar ethos and role, both thought of themselves as elite units, and both found themselves used by local commanders in a variety of roles that tended to be determined by the emergencies of the moment.On 29 November 1942 Lt Col Frost's 2nd Para dropped at Depienne, Tunisia, with orders to march overnight to Oudna, destroy the aircraft there and then return to Allied lines. Finding no aircraft they retreated, repeatedly combating elements of Oberst Koch's FJR 5, deployed in a ground role. 2nd Para ambushed and drove back Fallschirmjäger riding on armoured cars. Nearly surrounded, Frost withdrew to a nearby hill; a battle ensued as both sides raced for the crest. After retreating overnight 2nd Para wiped out an attacking German platoon, and on 3 December Frost's men finally reached Allied lines; all told, they had made five night marches and fought three battles, in total covering 50 miles, and only 180 of Frost's 450 men remained effective.Fighting as infantry, elements of 3rd Para encountered two companies of Fallschirmjäger-Pionier Bataillon, supported by elements of armour and artillery, in a strongly fortified position at Djebel Azag. On the night of 4/5 January 1943 a see-saw battle took place as the hill changed hands. The Germans were able to retain this key position. After weeks of further bitter fighting the British parachute brigade was again pulled out of the line in March 1943, but there would be no respite for any of the German parachute units; in May nearly all of those who had survived became POWs.On the night of 13/14 July 1943, 1st Para Brigade dropped to seize the Primosole Bridge in Sicily and hold it until relieved the next day by 50th Division. Unknown to Allied planners, though, Fallschirmjager dropped nearby in the last large-scale German airdrop of WWII. The Allied airborne was badly dispersed by AA fire. However, the British successfully seized the bridge and held it until an improvised counter-attack retook it. Midway through the evening of 14 July elements of 50th Division succeeded in relieving the Paras, retaking the bridge after 2 more days of bitter fighting. The Germans withdrew after failing to destroy the bridge with a truck-borne improvised explosive device.The battle at Primosole Bridge had immediate strategic consequences for both sides: for Britain an inquiry was held as to whether airborne forces were worth the investment, while for Germany the engagement proved the concept that elite infantry capable of being transported quickly by air to hotspots in the line could avert disaster. Featuring vivid first-hand accounts, specially commissioned full-colour artwork and in-depth analysis, this is the gripping story of the clash between airborne forces at the height of WWII.
Browning .30-caliber machine guns saw US Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force service in World War I & II, Korea, and Vietnam, and are still occasionally found in use elsewhere even today. Produced in both water-cooled and air-cooled versions, it has been employed in every imaginable role for a machine gun - antipersonnel, antiaircraft, mounted on aircraft as both defensive and offensive armament, defensive armament aboard vehicles (armored and soft-skin), mounted on watercraft, and others.The .30-caliber story began in World War I, as legendary US weapon-designer John M. Browning strove to develop a belt-fed, water-cooled heavy machine gun to provide infantry support. Significantly lighter than the British Vickers and the German MG 08, the hard-wearing Browning M1917 was among the best in its class; as the M1917A1 it served through World War II and the Korean War, and was only retired in the late 1950s as evolving infantry tactics demanded lighter, more mobile support weapons.Initially developed as a tank machine gun in World War I, the M1919 air-cooled version saw lengthy service with the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force - as well as the armed forces of other nations - in an enormous variety of roles and environments. World War I had demonstrated that infantry-support machine guns had to be light enough to be hand-carried over rough terrain; the M1919's air-cooled operation made this possible. The commonest version, the M1919A4, was widely employed throughout World War II, Korea, and beyond, while M1919 variants were used as the secondary armament for all US tanks in World War II and on some types of US aircraft and watercraft well into the 1960s. The 'thirty' set such a high standard in reliability that it became the benchmark against which all subsequent weapons have been judged.Employing gripping first-hand testimony and featuring specially commissioned illustrations and detailed photographs, many in color, this lively study of the Browning .30-caliber machine gun reveals the origins, combat history and legacy of this versatile and dependable weapon.
For nearly fifty years the hard-hitting, mobile Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, served in US infantry units as a light squad automatic "base of fire" weapon, providing quick bursts of concentrated fire. It was developed in response to the central dilemma of infantry combat in World War I - the need for a squad-level weapon that could suppress emplaced machine-gun positions. Designed by the renowned firearms manufacturer John M. Browning, the BAR could be fired from the shoulder or the hip while on the move. Unfortunately, initial production difficulties and commanders' reluctance to feed the new weapon piecemeal into the front line meant it was September 1918 before the BAR saw combat.In the interwar years US forces used the BAR across the world, from China to Nicaragua; versions equipped the armed forces of Belgium, Sweden and Poland. It also became a favorite of notorious gangsters like Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, who prized its ability to punch through police armored cars as though they were made of cardboard. US lawmen rapidly acquired the BAR for themselves, with the Colt R 80 "Monitor" variant becoming the official fighting rifle of the FBI from 1931.At the outset of World War II the US armed forces decided to adapt the BAR for a light machine gun role. The BAR was not without its flaws; it was heavy and difficult to dismantle and reassemble, and it didn't cope well with sustained fire. Nevertheless, the BAR saw action in every major theater of World War II and went on to be used in Korea and in the opening stages of the Vietnam War. Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall's pioneering study of men in combat revealed the tremendous psychological boost that the BAR gave to a squad in the field; Marshall discovered that riflemen were so glad to have a BAR in their midst that they readily volunteered to carry extra ammunition for their gunner.Featuring arresting first-hand accounts, specially drawn full-color artwork and close-up photographs, many in color, this lively study offers a vivid portrait of this powerful, long-lived and innovative weapon that saw service with US and other forces across the world for much of the twentieth century.
After the Guadalcanal landings, Admiral Nimitz wanted to distract Japanese attention by launching an amphibious raid elswhere. Foreshadowing Bloody Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and countless other landings in the face of intense Japanese resistance, the Makin Raid taught the Marines a great deal. Featuring specially commissioned full-color artwork and expert analysis, this gripping account of the fateful Makin Raid tells the whole story, from the plan's conception to its troubled execution and aftermath.On August 17-18, 1942, 211 men of the US Marine Corps' 2nd Raider Battalion conducted a daring amphibious raid on the Japanese-occupied Makin Island in the South Pacific. This ambitious but flawed operation was intended to divert Japanese reinforcements bound for Guadalcanal, over 1,000 miles to the southwest, in the wake of the US landings there ten days earlier; the Raiders were to destroy the seaplane base and radio station, take prisoners, and collect intelligence. Although yielding limited results, it was to be an invaluable test of the innovative training and tactics employed by the Raiders, and a crucial boost to national morale at this difficult stage in the war.Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson led the 2nd Raiders into battle; drawing inspiration from the exploits of the British Commandos, Carlson had developed his unorthodox theories on the use of regular troops for guerrilla operations in close collaboration with his Executive Officer, Major James Roosevelt, the President's oldest son. Carlson stressed infiltration tactics and an egalitarian approach to leadership and decision-making, and believed passionately in "ethical indoctrination" as a means of motivating his men. His controversial techniques would be tested to the utmost by the escalating situation on Makin Island.The raid was hailed as a valorous exploit that greatly upset Japanese plans. There is little doubt that the troops gave their best under exceedingly difficult circumstances, but the battalion's leadership was found wanting. No Japanese reinforcements were diverted from Guadalcanal; the mission's goals were questionable, and the planners had not considered the likely long-term enemy response. In fact, the Japanese immediately implemented plans to reinforce remote bases that came under attack and massively increased the defenses of Makin and Tarawa Atolls, which had to be dealt with at great cost 15 months later. While the raid boosted morale at home, the raiders would attempt no further similar submarine-delivered raids.
In June 1775 the Continental Congress, leading the American rebellion against the British Crown, created the Continental Army to serve in the line of battle alongside militia and "Provincial" units. Although supply problems, issues with discipline, and poor training hampered the Continentals' effectiveness in combat, they were able to inflict a decisive defeat on the British at Yorktown. In contrast, the backbone of the British forces in North America were long-service regular infantrymen, serving for the most part in single-battalion regiments. They had earned a formidable reputation on Europe's battlefields during the Seven Years' War, but in fighting the French in North America during that conflict had already learned a great deal about the very different fighting conditions prevalent in the New World.In a host of encounters ranging from skirmishes to decisive pitched battles, the infantrymen of both sides would be tested to the limit, with supply problems, hostile terrain, and poor weather all adding to the horrors of close-quarter combat. Featuring full-color artwork, specially drawn maps, and archive illustrations, this engaging study offers key insights into the tactics, leadership, combat performance, and subsequent reputations of six representative Continental and Redcoat infantry regiments pitched into three pivotal actions that shaped the outcome of the American Revolutionary War.
The United States had demonstrated its military superiority worldwide with its lightning victory over Iraq in 1991. As the only superpower in the world, few would argue that Washington could not prevail in a conventional conflict. Humanitarian missions, however, were another story. Although the United States had experience in a few humanitarian missions, it had just concluded operations in northern Iraq, and was soon to support the United Nations program to help the people in a failed state - Somalia. Somalia was falling apart; it had ceased to exist as a country. Warring tribes had reduced it into an area controlled by warlords. Clan and internecine warfighting had caused major disruption in Somali life. Starvation was a weapon used by the clans. Humanitarian aid and relief arrived but, without security, this support provided little help to the people. On 15 August 1992, President George H.W. Bush ordered military units to airlift supplies into Kenya under Operation Provide Relief. These supplies would enter Somalia with international relief organizations. Still, clans stole the aid for themselves, harassed international relief agencies, extorted money, and allowed starvation to continue. By 8 December, Bush ordered Marines, the US Army's 10th Mountain Division, and Special Forces into Somalia to help UN forces bring order. Some 13,000 American military personnel became part of a security force of 38,000 from UN countries. This massive force helped stabilize Somalia, but the warring factions waited for an opportunity to reassert themselves. By October 1993, the UN security force had shrunk to 16,000, with 4,000 Americans. Two Somali warlords - Muhamed Farrah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamed - had been fighting over control of the capital and main port of Mogadishu. A raid on 3 October, TF Ranger's seventh, aimed at capturing high-ranking Aideed aides initially succeeded with a surprise assault in Mogadishu. While transferring the prisoners to a convoy, Aideed supporters shot down two Army Blackhawk helicopters. These actions resulted in heavy firefights throughout the route of evacuation and the crash sites. The Rangers and others, including two Special Forces snipers who held the second crash site alone, attempted to secure and rescue the downed helicopter crews. The Americans could call on helicopter gunships and had heavy firepower, but against an enemy difficult to identify, in an urban setting, outnumbered, and with darkness approaching, the situation looked grim. The Rangers and Special Forces (Delta Force) fought all night. The10th Mountain Division, Malaysian, and Pakistani forces rescued the Rangers at the first crash site the next day. At the second crash site, Aideed's forces had overwhelmed the area. The two Special Forces snipers died (they received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously). In the end, TF Ranger lost 16 killed and 83 wounded. One person died from the relief column. Aideed's force lost 500-1,000 killed and unknown numbers of wounded.
The armies of Scandinavia and the Low Countries bore the first crushing impact of Hitler's mighty Blitzkrieg war machine in Western Europe, in campaigns that astonished and terrified the world.The German Wehrmacht was millions strong, equipped with the latest guns, tanks and aircraft, and had the priceless advantage of having learned the realities of modern warfare in Poland the previous September. The defenders of Scandinavia and the Low Countries were raised from small populations, and were inadequately funded, trained, equipped and armed. Their modest numbers, inexperience, and largely indefensible borders condemned them to rapid defeat - in a few hours (Denmark), a few days (Holland), a couple of weeks (Belgium), and at most two months (Norway). For this reason they have tended to be neglected by history - in many cases, unjustly. Vastly outnumbered - and, in the case of the neutral Low Countries, with their potential French and British allies reeling under simultaneous attacks - thousands of soldiers fought heroically in the hopeless defence of their homelands against the Nazi juggernaut.Tiny Denmark had only 6,600 troops when it was invaded on 9 April 1940 by six times as many Germans with air and tank support; resistance lasted only four hours. On the same day, mountainous Norway, with 25,000 men mainly scattered in small numbers along its cliff-bound coastline, was invaded by the first elements of seven German seaborne and airborne divisions totalling 100,000 men. A British, French and Free Polish force landed to support the Norwegians, but despite the serious casualties inflicted on the German forces the country was finally forced to surrender two months later on 9 June 1940.In the mean time the massive German Operation Yellow, undertaken by 2.75 million troops backed by strong air forces, had fallen on the neutral Netherlands and Belgium (10 May), and on France (16 May). The 250,000 Netherlands troops put up unexpectedly stubborn resistance, but were ordered to surrender on 15 May after the German bombing of Rotterdam. Belgium had mobilised some 900,000 troops, and received some help from Britain and France, but the resistance faltered as Panzergruppe Von Kleist outflanked them through the supposedly impassable Ardennes; Belgium requested an armistice on 26 May, and surrendered on the 28th. Between 26 May and 4 June the survivors of the British Expeditionary Force were evacuated from Dunkirk. On 10 June the Germans crossed the Seine; the French government fled Paris on the 12th; on the 17th Marshal Pétain requested an armistice, and France finally capitulated on 22 June.Informed by the latest research and drawing upon archival records and period photography, this absorbing study explains the organization and combat performance and depicts the appearance of the armies of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium as they sought to counter overwhelming German forces in the fateful spring of 1940.
Italian military historian Pier Paolo Battistelli examines the elite and specialforces units of the Italian Army during World War II. This includes a vast array of troop types, including paratroopers, assault engineers, sea-landing and swimmer units, long-range recce and ski units, and even hand-picked Fascist 'Mussolini' units. It also delves into the specialist tank and armoured units that were created to emulate the German armoured units. While the Italian units discussed enjoyed mixed success, the volume draws attention to the incredibly hard fighting done by some in the deserts of North Africa and the frozen wastelands of Russia. Illustrated with rare archival photographs and specially commissioned artwork, this is a fascinating insight into a little-studied aspect of Axis forces.
On May 2, 2011 a ten-year manhunt drew to a deadly end as the men of the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (a.k.a. SEAL Team Six) closed in on their prey, Osama Bin Laden, the fanatical mastermind of the terrible attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Flown from Afghanistan by Army Special Operations Command's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and evading detection by the Pakistani military, two US helicopters flew towards the compound where they believed Bin Laden to be.Forty minutes later one helicopter had crashed and five men were dead, including the al-Qaeda leader, whose body was taken away and quietly buried at sea. In this book the story of the raid is told, from start to finish, using specially commissioned full-colour artwork, photographs and maps. The operation, codenamed Neptune Spear, is expertly analysed and the events are told in a concise and clear account of its build-up, execution and aftermath, demonstrating the skill and courage of the men who carried it out.
On 25 May 1944, 800 men of the 500th SS Parachute Battalion descended on Drvar, a town behind enemy lines in north-western Bosnia. Their aim was to kill or capture Tito, the leader of the partisan movement in the region. The plan was to land the battalion by glider and parachute in two waves which would be relieved the next day by a ground assault. Tito knew an attack was imminent but dismissed the idea of an airborne assault. The attempt to eliminate Tito was a colossal failure. The elite battalion had been decimated, with only 200 men fit for duty the next day. Inter-agency rivalry between the Abwehr and the SS had meant that intelligence was not shared, a problem exacerbated by a failure to exploit HUMINT about Tito's precise location and the adoption of a plan that did not take into account these intelligence limitations.
On the southwest shore of Laguna de Bay in the Philippines stood the Los Banos Internment Camp. Held within were 2,147 starving POWs, surrounded by thousands of Japanese troops. As the desperate battle for Manila raged, only 130 Paratroopers could be spared for the rescue operation. Supported by Alamo Scouts, local guerrillas, and amphibious tractors, they seized the element of surprise, and rescued the POWs. It was a stunning triumph of courage and perfect timing in the face of overwhelming odds.
Featuring specially commissioned full-color artwork and archive and close-up photographs, this engaging study tells the story of the M14, the long-lived battle rifle that remains in front-line service with US forces more than 50 years after its first adoption.The 7.62×51mm M14 select-fire automatic rifle was the primary US service rifle for only a decade from 1957 before being supplanted by the 5.56×45mm M16, yet many familiar with the M14 consider it the best rifle ever to see US service. Based on the well-proven M1 Garand rifle, the M14 addressed the perceived "deficiencies" of the Garand based on the latter's service in World War II and Korea. The M14 incorporated a detachable box magazine and select-fire capability, and used a shortened version of the .30-06 cartridge - the 7.62×51mm NATO round - better suited to a "battle rifle."Though primarily designed for a war in Europe, where it would take its place alongside the other 7.62×51mm battle rifles (FAL, G3, etc.) in the hands of NATO allies, probably the first combat use of the M14 was with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Dominican Republic in 1965-66. The M14 also saw action during the early days of the escalating US involvement in the Vietnam War, though it proved rather too heavy and lengthy for jungle usage and was supplanted in that theater by the M16 in 1966-67. Even so, some Army engineer units continued to use the M14 as did US Marines, who often retained one or two in each squad. Even after the adoption of the M16, US troops in Europe retained the M14 until 1970 for compatibility with other NATO armies.Although the M14 was intended to replace four weapons, namely the .30-06 M1 Garand, the .30 M1 Carbine, the .45 M3 submachine gun (SMG), and - in its M15 and M14A1 models - the .30-06 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), this proved to be an overly optimistic goal. The new weapon was deemed virtually uncontrollable on full-automatic in the SMG role, but its 7.62×51mm round proved too light for the BAR's squad automatic weapon role.Even so, the M14 has remained a Phoenix among US infantry weapons, rising again and again when a more powerful battle rifle has been needed. Its accuracy and reliability led to its modification and adoption in 1975 as a semi-automatic sniping weapon - the M21 - which remained the Army's primary sniper rifle until 1988, although seeing widespread service in Iraq well after that date. Since 2001 the M14 has seen a resurgence as a Designated Marksman Rifle, being employed by all branches of the US military, especially in Afghanistan where the open terrain makes longer-range engagements common. It has remained a viable limited-use US infantry weapon for over five decades, and appears likely to see action wherever US forces require a longer-range, accurate battle rifle for some years to come.
The M16 was first introduced in 1958 and was revolutionary for its time as it was made of lightweight materials including special aluminium and plastics, which had previously not been used in mainstream weapons. It was first adopted by US Special Forces and airborne troops in 1962 before it was issued to Army and Marine units serving in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). Its use spread throughout the following decades and a number of variants including submachine and carbine versions were also fielded. It was not only the rifle itself that proved revolutionary. The 5.56x45mm cartridge was also ground-breaking and was eventually adopted as the standard NATO cartridge. As a result it is now amongst the three most used combat cartridges in the world while over 10 million M16s and variants have been produced making it one of the most successful American handheld weapons in history . But despite its undeniable success the M16 is not without its detractors. Indeed, the "black rifle", as it is known, is one of the most controversial rifles ever introduced with a long history of design defects, ruggedness issues, cleaning difficulties and reliability problems leading to endless technical refinements. The story is not over either. The M16 is still in production to this day ensuring that its use in future conflicts as well as its impact on world affairs is assured. This volume, written by a Vietnam Special Forces veteran, provides a technical history of the M16 and the struggle to perfect it together with an assessment of its impact on the battlefield drawing on over a decade's combat experience with the rifle.From the Trade Paperback edition.
These lethal man-portable anti-tank weapons enabled Wehrmacht infantry to destroy T-34 and Sherman tanks. Written by an expert on anti-tank warfare, this book reveals the fascinating development history of the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck and accessess the tactics that were employed by the soldiers using these two feared weapons.Two of World War II's most distinctive weapons, the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck offered German and other infantrymen the ability to destroy enemy tanks singlehandedly at close range. While the Panzerschreck owed its origins largely to the US bazooka, the Panzerfaust was a revolutionary design that was unlike any previous weapon, and went on to influence anti-tank technology and tactics for decades after World War II.Germany had begun World War II with several inadequate antitank weapons for infantry use, supplemented by improvised and captured weapons and, from 1942, a hand-delivered 3kg antitank shaped charge. As the fortunes of war turned against Germany, what was desperately needed was an antitank weapon that allowed the individual soldier to destroy a tank. The first effort to field such a weapon began with the Faustpatrone 43, a handheld short tube with a propellant charge and an over-caliber, shaped-charge warhead; it was the first of the Panzerfaust ("armor fist") series of anti-tank weapons. The warhead was propelled by a launcher cartridge. The sights were extremely crude, but more sophisticated sights were unnecessary owing to the short ranges and the fact that tanks were large targets. Panzerfaust models were designated by two- or three-digit numbers indicating their approximate range in meters. The reloadable Panzerfaust 250 was under development a the war's end, as was an anti-personnel high-explosive-fragmentation projectile.The Panzerfaust was not manned by a dedicated crew but was issued to individuals. Training was extremely simple and given in the form of a lecture and demonstrations, often without even any live fire. German propaganda made much of the Panzerfaust capable of being use by Hitler Youth teenagers, old men of the Volkssturm and other civilians. Over eight million Panzerfauste of all types were produced, and they became as widely used as hand grenades. They proved to be comparatively effective against tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, as well as fortifications and buildings. Allied troops, notably Soviet forces, made widespread use of captured Panzerfauste, and they were also supplied to German allies such as Finland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The Germans provided the Japanese with examples and plans for the Panzerfaust and they went on to develop their own reloadable and very different version called the 45mm Type 5 recoilless anti-tank weapon; it was to be used to defend the Home Islands.
The night before D-Day, light infantry and a detachment of Royal Engineers landed by gliders at Pegasus Bridge, which spanned the Caen Canal. Quickly overwhelming the guards, they managed to hold the bridge and help prevent German reinforcements from reaching the British landing beaches. Will Fowler provides a detailed blow-by-blow account of this classic wartime raid.
Poole Pottery is recognized as one of the most distinctive and most collected potteries of the twentieth century. Founded by Jesse Carter in 1873, by the 1880s the factory was well known for its tiling products, mosaic flooring and advertising panels. After the turn of the century the company flourished in the hands of the founder's sons, developing the hand-decorated style that would be their signature for many years to come.In 1921, Charles Carter, the respected designer Harold Stabler, and the husband and wife John and Truda Adams established a subsidiary that would establish Poole as one of the centres of ceramic arts. The firm began to draw inspiration from many historical styles and cultures including Egyptian, Grecian and the Middle East all combined with the revival of the Delftware technique of freehand painting on a white tin glazed ground. Throughout the 1920s and '30s Poole became synonymous with elegant and expertly executed wares produced in a daring and highly decorative style of modernism. The firm grew rapidly and employed a number of key artists and decorators who in turn brought their own ideas to the table.Post-war production was mostly based on pre-war designs, but in 1958 the company developed a whole new range of 'studio ware'. The Studio was seen as a design hot bed, with nothing off limits and no treatments or techniques out of bounds. The pieces from this period were expensive to produce, but the level of production and quality of design put Poole firmly at the front of the British craft pottery movement. This range became the basis for the more commercial Delphis range, which found immediate success and helped the company maintain its market position.The end of the twentieth century was a more difficult time for Poole, but it remains one of the great names of British ceramics and the decorative arts. In this highly illustrated introduction Poole devotee and expert Will Farmer tells the story of this remarkable and popular firm.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In mid-December 1942, the Soviets had surrounded the German 6th Army in Stalingrad but the Wehrmacht was engaged in a desperate relief effort with Operation Winter Storm and an airlift. The Soviet Stavka moved to defeat both these German efforts in order to ensure the rapid destruction of the 6th Army and to maintain strategic momentum. As part of the effort to defeat the airlift, the Soviet Stavka decided to launch a deep raid with the entire 24th Tank Corps to seize the airfield at Tatsinskaya, the primary operating base for the German airlift. On 17 December 1942, the 24th Tank Corps advanced toward Tatsinskaya and seized the airfield on Christmas Eve. The Soviet tankers managed to destroy many Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground, but afterwards found themselves isolated and out of fuel behind German lines. Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein rapidly organized a counterattack with elements of two panzer divisions, crushing most of the raiding force between 26-28 December. Just before the raiding force was annihilated, they received permission to abandon their heavy equipment and escape back to Soviet lines on foot. Thus, the raiders accomplished their mission of severely disrupting the airlift to Stalingrad, but at the cost of decimating an entire tank corps.
From 1600 till 1866 civil strife in public was virtually unknown in Japan; however, personal loyalty and self-sacrifice could at times rise above the samurai hierarchy to redefine Japanese culture. In 1703 former samurai avenged their lord in the most legendary raid in Japanese history. The story of the 47 ronin is a tale rich in emotion, precise planning, and flawless martial execution. This was the raid that turned Japan upside down.Lord Kira had brought about the death of Lord Asano, thus making Asano's loyal samurai into ronin (unemployed 'men of the waves'). In complete secrecy they plotted their revenge, and one snowy winter's night launched a raid against his mansion in Edo (Tokyo). The gates were broken down, and after the fiercest sword battle seen in Japan for over a century Kira was captured and beheaded. His head was washed and placed on Asano's tomb. The Shogun had now been placed in a dilemma. Should he reward the 47 Ronin for behaving more like true samurai than anyone since the time of civil wars, or should they be punished for breaking the strict laws about taking revenge?In the end the law prevailed, and the surviving 46 ronin committed a mass act of hara-kiri, turning them overnight into national heroes as the 'gods of bushido'.. The dramatic revenge raid of the Forty-Seven Ronin is the ideal subject for a Raids title. There is a very strong narrative and a wealth of illustrative material. As the raid occurred during the peaceful Edo Period there is scope for original description of the samurai's weapons and their personal & physical environment that is not seen in any other Osprey titles.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In July 1863, with the Confederacy still reeling from the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Union forces pushed deep into Arkansas, capturing the capital of Little Rock. In response, Colonel Joseph O. Shelby launched a daring raid to disrupt the advance. Taking 600 men and a section of light artillery, he slipped behind enemy lines. Moving by night to confuse the enemy, Shelby captured a series of small outposts, collecting weapons and recruits as he went. As they continued their ride, the rebels tore up railroad tracks, burned bridges, and cut telegraph lines. Despite these successes, the Union troops slowly closed in on the raiders. Shelby fought a series of bitter skirmishes, until he found himself surrounded. Unwilling to surrender, Shelby led a charge through the Federal lines, bursting out into the open country and onto the road back to the Confederacy. While the results of this raid are still debated by historians, no one has ever doubted its boldness, and west of the Mississippi it became common to boast, "You've heard of Jeb Stuart's ride around McClellan? Hell, brother, Jo Shelby rode around MISSOURI!"
On April 17, 1863 Benjamin Grierson led a force of 1,700 Union cavalrymen across enemy lines into the Confederate-held Tennessee in a bold diversionary raid. Over the next seventeen days, Grierson's horsemen caused havoc by destroying railroad lines, attacking outposts, burning military stores and fighting numerous small actions, before breaking back through the lines at Baton Rouge. The raid was a tremendous success, not only by virtue of the destruction it caused, but also because the Confederates were forced to divert thousands of troops away from the front lines during General Grant's critical Vicksburg offensive. This book tells the complete story of one of the most daring Union raids of the war.
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