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Bf 110 vs Lancaster

by Jim Laurier Robert Forczyk

Unable to conduct ground operations on the European continent until Allied strength was marshalled for a full-scale invasion, the British government based its grand strategy in World War II on a protracted campaign of aerial bombardment of Nazi Germany's cities in order to bring the Third Reich to its knees. At the heart of this strategy were the emerging technologies of the heavy bomber, combined with night-navigation and precision-bombing techniques. The RAF introduced the huge four-engined Avro Lancaster in 1942 and used it to spearhead this aerial offensive. In response, the Luftwaffe created an elite nightfighter force based primarily upon the Bf 110 to counter the RAF bombers. Although the Bf 110 had failed miserably as a day fighter over England in 1940, it found its niche as a nightfighter. The Luftwaffe was quick to equip it with airborne radar that allowed it to intercept and destroy Lancasters over Germany. In turn, the RAF adopted countermeasures such as the Monica rearward-looking radar to alert Lancaster crews to the approach of nightfighters. The Lancaster heavy bomber was equipped with rear and dorsal turrets that gave it some chance to drive off nightfighters employing the standard tactic of attacking from above and behind.In May 1943, though, the Luftwaffe suddenly developed a novel technical and tactical approach to attacking RAF bombers - the Schräge Musik weapon system, which mounted upward-firing 20mm cannons in a Bf 110 nightfighter. The new tactic proved amazingly successful, and British bombers could be attacked from below with no warning. Soon, the Luftwaffe decided to equip a third of its nightfighters with Schräge Musik and began to inflict grievous losses upon Lancaster bomber units in the period from August 1943 to March 1944. For its part, the RAF failed to detect the new German tactic for six crucial months, during which time its Lancaster bombers were almost defenceless against this new threat. In time, however, the German advantage of surprise was lost and the RAF developed countermeasures to deal with the new threat. The duel between upgraded Bf 110s and Lancasters in the night skies over Germany became increasingly dominated by cutting-edge technology, which would determine the efficacy of strategic bombing.

Demyansk 1942-43

by Robert Forczyk Peter Dennis

The fighting around the town of Demyansk was one of the longest encirclement battles on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, stretching from February 1942 to February 1943. Originally, the German 16. Armee occupied Demyansk in the fall of 1941 because it was key terrain - a crossroads located on high ground amidst a sea of swampy terrain - that would be used as a springboard for an eventual offensive into the Valdai Hills. Instead, the Soviet winter counteroffensive in February 1942 encircled the German II Armeekorps and other units, totalling about 100,000 troops, inside the Demyansk Pocket. Another pocket was also created around Kholm, with another 5,000 Germans inside. Yet despite severe pounding from five Soviet armies, the embattled German troops held the pocket and the Luftwaffe organized a major aerial resupply effort to sustain the defenders. For the first time in military history, an army was supplied entirely by air.After stopping the Soviet winter counteroffensive, the German 16. Armee mounted two major relief efforts to rescue their trapped forces in the Demyansk and Kholm pockets, which were finally relieved in April-May 1942. During the siege, the crack 3. SS-Division 'Totenkopf' was virtually destroyed, suffering 80 per cent casualties. However, Hitler demanded that the 12 divisions of II Armeekorps remain in the narrow Demyansk salient, whose base was only 6km wide. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1942, the Soviets pounded the salient from all sides, inflicting heavy casualties on the defenders. In February 1943, Marshal Timoshenko was ordered to launch an offensive to cut off the base of the salient and annihilate the 12 divisions. At the same time, Hitler finally came to his senses after the Stalingrad debacle and authorized the 16. Armee to withdraw from the pocket. Thus, the Germans began to withdraw just as Timoshenko opened his grand offensive to cut them off and destroy almost 100,000 German troops. This volume will conclude with the drama of a German army-size withdrawal under fire in winter, under attack from three sides.

Erich von Manstein: Leadership, Strategy, Conflict

by Robert Forczyk

Erich von Manstein was one of the most successful German commanders of World War II. An apostle of the German concept of Bewegungskrieg -- manoeuvre warfare -- he was responsible for the operational plan for the German breakthrough in the Ardennes Forest that led to the rapid defeat of France in 1940. He led a panzer corps in the drive to Leningrad in 1941 and an army in the Crimea, culminating in the capture of Sevastopol in 1942. As commander of Heeresgruppe Don, he oversaw the doomed attempt to rescue the German position at Stalingrad, before inflicting a major reverse on Soviet forces in the third battle of Kharkov in March 1943, probably his finest victory. This is a military account of von Manstein's greatest battles, providing an analytical account of his tactics, decisions and character traits that helped him succeed in battle and made him one of the most respected German commanders.

Georgy Zhukov

by Robert Forczyk Adam Hook

Zhukov was the dominant figure in the Red Army during World War II even though his actual job title varied from day to day. Serving as a senior General Staff representative from the Stavka, Zhukov moved from one critical sector to the next, serving as advisor, coordinator and de facto front commander as required. There is no doubt that Zhukov played a critical role in salvaging the critical situation in the fall of 1941 and leading the Red Army to an amazing reversal of fortunes in 1942-43 and eventual victory in 1944-45. He was instrumental in the initial defence of Leningrad, before moving to Moscow to stem the German advance and lead the counterattack in the winter of 1941. In 1942-43 he was responsible for Operation Uranus that cut off the German 6. Armee in Stalingrad, and led the defence of the Kursk Pocket against Manstein's attacks. His was the voice of reason and patience that convinced Stalin to let the Germans expend themselves at Kursk before launching the Soviet offensive that drove the Germans back hundreds of miles and almost broke the German Army inthe Ukraine. Without him Kursk would never have been fought as a defensive battle by the Russians. In 1944 he led the massive Soviet Operation Bagration that destroyed the German Heeresgruppe Mitte and continued on in command of front through to the end of the war, which saw him become the first post-war Soviet commander in East Germany.However, Zhukov's methods were brutal and contributed to massive Soviet casualties, while he continued to keep his hand in political affairs as well. As the most recognized Soviet soldier of World War II, Zhukov's post-war fall from grace was equally precipitous and it was not until the fall of the Soviet Union that he was awarded his reputation was restored.

German Commerce Raider vs British Cruiser

by Ian Palmer Robert Forczyk

During World War II, the Kriegsmarine armed a number of merchant vessels with concealed guns and torpedo tubes for surprise attacks against Allied shipping. To counter this deadly threat, the Royal Navy employed cruisers and their intelligence-gathering apparatus to find and destroy the disguised German commerce raiders. This Duel title covers the deadly game of cat and mouse, fought by these surface vessels during World War II.

Kharkov 1942

by Robert Forczyk Howard Gerrard

After failing to finish off the German Army in the 1941/42 Winter Counteroffensive and aware that Hitler was planning a new summer offensive in mid-1942, Stalin directed the Red Army to conduct a powerful blow in one sector of the Eastern Front in order to disrupt German plans. The sector chosen was Kharkov, where the Soviet Southwestern Front had seized bridgeheads over the Donets River and Heeresgruppe Süd appeared vulnerable. Under Stalin's trusted military advisor, Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, the Stavka's remaining reserves were assembled and prepared to conduct a breakthrough attack intended to encircle the German Sixth Army near Kharkov.However, Stalin was unaware that the Germans were planning their own riposte at Kharkov, known as Operation Fredericus. When Timoshenko began his offensive in May 1942, he did not realize the limitations of his own forces or the agility of the Germans to recover from setbacks, all of which contributed to one of the Red Army greatest defeats of World War II. The German victory at Kharkov also contributed to the Wehrmacht's ability to push to the Volga River, once the Red Army was seriously weakened along the Donets. This volume will pay particular attention to intelligence and logistics issues, as well as how this campaign served as a prelude to the battle of Stalingrad. It will also focus on the nascent development of the Red Army's tank corps and 'deep battle' tactics, as well as the revival of the German Panzertruppen after Barbarossa.

Nez Perce 1877

by Peter Dennis Robert Forczyk

Osprey's examination of one of the most famous battles of the latter part of the American Indian Wars (1622-1918). With the wars between the US and the Native Americans drawing to a close, one tribe in Eastern Oregon continued to resist. The Nez Perce, led by the "Red Napoleon" Chief Joseph, refused to surrender and accept resettlement. Instead, Chief Joseph organized a band of 750 warriors and set off for the Canadian border, pursued by 2,000 US Army troops under Major-General Oliver Howard. The army chased the natives for three months, fighting 13 actions. Finally, just 40 miles from the Canadian border, the Army ran Chief Joseph to the ground, and forced him to surrender after a five-day battle near Bear Paw Mountain.

Panzerjäger vs KV-1

by Ian Palmer Robert Forczyk

As the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union, it discovered that the Russians possessed heavy tanks that German anti-tank guns were ineffective against. The German Army developed the 37-mm Pak 36 in 1936 to provide the primary weapon for its panzerjagers, who were responsible for anti-tank defense in infantry divisions. Realizing that the new Wehrmacht offensive doctrines intended to fully exploit the shock effect, firepower and mobility of armor, the panzerjagers were intended to enable German infantry to fend off enemy tanks. Although the Pak 36 was adequate against most pre-war tanks, during the 1940 Campaign in the West it proved unable to defeat the British Matilda II or French Char B, so the Wehrmacht began developing the 50-mm Pak 38 to supersede it. However, the process of re-equipment was slow and most German infantry divisions that participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 only had a handful of Pak 38s and still relied mainly on the Pak 36. Just four days into the invasion, German troops encountered the first KV-1 and KV-2 tanks near Raisinai in Lithuania and the impotence of both the Pak 36 (soon derisively labeled the "Door Knocker") and the Pak 38 was revealed. Thus at the start of this decisive campaign, the German Army was faced with the reality that it's panzerjagers could not provide effective anti-tank defense against Soviet heavy tanks and the Wehrmacht was forced to adopt a crash-program to upgrade its division-level AT defenses. New weaponry, including the 75-mm Pak 40, captured Soviet 76.2-mm guns converted into Pak 36(r), HEAT shells and tungsten-core rounds, offered possible solutions to the Soviet armored behemoths, but would require time to develop. In the interim, the panzerjagers were forced to adopt a variety of ad hoc tactics and stand-in equipment to survive in an unequal duel with heavy Soviet tanks. On the Soviet side, based upon lessons from the Spanish Civil War, the Red Army decided to develop a heavy "breakthrough" tank to smash enemy infantry defenses. The result was the KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, introduced in 1939. At the start of Operation Barbarossa, both these tanks were virtually invulnerable to the weapons of the panzerjager and demonstrated their ability to overrun German infantry on several occasions. This advantage gave the Red Army a window of opportunity between the fall of 1941 and the spring of 1942 to use their heavy tanks to repel the German invasion in a series of desperate counteroffensives. Yet the window of Soviet advantage was a narrow one and the duel between the Soviet KV heavy tanks and German panzerjagers had a major impact upon the struggle for the strategic initiative in 1941-42.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Red Christmas # The Tatsinskaya Airfield Raid 1942

by Robert Forczyk Johnny Shumate

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.

Russian Battleship vs Japanese Battleship

by Ian Palmer Howard Gerrard Robert Forczyk

The first major clash between a European and Asian state in the modern era signalled the beginning of Japan's rise as a major power on the world stage. What began as differing expansionist interests in Manchuria and Korea developed into a full-blown war in 1904, with an unexpected outcome. Watched by the rest of the world's superpowers, this incredibly violent war was disastrous for the Russians who, despite their superior numbers, were defeated by the Japanese underdogs in a spectacular fashion. Japan won major victories against the Russians including the critical naval battle of Tsushima in May 1905 which saw almost the entire Russian fleet sunk, captured or interned. This was the first and last encounter of pre-dreadnought battleships and it was a huge success for Japanese tactics, skill and planning. This book discusses the design and development of the pre-dreadnoughts that would ultimately lead to a new wave of battleships. The key technical elements of firepower, protection, maneuverability and communications for each side are covered in detail and accompanied by first-hand accounts and specially commissioned artwork to explain and illustrate this historically significant duel.

Walther Model

by Adam Hook Robert Forczyk

This volume details the military career and accomplishments of Walther Model, the youngest Generalfeldmarschall in the Wehrmacht in World War II and Hitler's favorite commander. His role on the Eastern Front saw him involved in most of the key battles of the second half of the warm, including the battles of Kursk Leningrad and the desperate attempt to halt the Soviet Bagration offensive. He also played a key role in the west, where his drive and defensive prowess saw his forces inflict heavy casualties on British forces at Arnhem and US forces in the Hürtgen Forest.Model was a tough and tenacious commander, particularly when on the defense, and his career rise was virtually unprecedented in German military history. Model truly made his mark late in the war, when time was already running out for the Third Reich, but time and again he was rushed from one crumbling front to the next and succeeded in temporarily restoring the situation. Above all, Model deserves recognition as one of the great defensive commanders of modern military history.

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