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.
Rottman's latest title discusses the original reorganization of Vietnam forces, from the original colonial structure implemented by the French into the first national army of Vietnam. Complete with a detailed history of the command structure and orders of battle, Rottman sheds light on the little known divisional histories of the army through rare, original source material. Moreover, the author examines in detail the evolution of such key units as armoured forces, ranger commands as well as combat unit organization. This, together with a detailed analysis of the experiences of the typical rank and file soldier as well as officer corps, provides a concise and and in-depth history of an army that is too often neglected or quickly judged.
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.
The border between East and West Germany was closed on 26 May 1953. On 13 August 1961 crude fences and walls were erected around West Berlin: the Berlin Wall had been created. The Wall encircled West Berlin for a distance of 155km, and its barriers and surveillance systems evolved over the years into an advanced obstacle network. The Intra-German Border ran from the Baltic Sea to the Czechoslovak border for 1,381km, and was where NATO forces faced the Warsaw Pact for the 45 years of the Cold War. This book examines the international situation that led to the establishment of the Berlin Wall and the IGB, and discusses how these barrier systems were operated, and finally fell.
A complete guide to weapons history, facts, myths and trivia, covering everything you wanted to know, didn't want to know, and don't know you need to know... Gordon Rottman offers a step by step guide through interesting gun facts and statistics, including a section on ammunition, while breaking apart popular myths and misconceptions. Covering subjects from weapons designations to the longest serving military rifles, where rifles get their names from, and everything in between, Osprey is proud to present The Big Book of Gun Trivia.
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.
On 27 January 1945 the 6th Ranger Battalion and the 6th Army Special Reconnaissance Unit (the Alamo Scouts) began the most dangerous and important mission of their careers to rescue 500 American, British and Dutch prisoners-of-war held at a camp near Cabanatuan. This daring plan was fraught with difficulties - the rangers had to struggle with harsh jungle terrain, 30 miles behind enemy lines against a far larger force, knowing that if their secret mission was leaked, the POWs would be massacred by their captors. Yet, with the help of a Filipino guerilla force, they managed to liberate 513 prisoners and kill 225 Japanese in 15 minutes, while only suffering two losses themselves. Relive the dramatic rescue in this action-packed account, complete with bird's eye view and battlescene artwork. Gordon Rottman details the build-up to and execution of the operation, analyzing the difficulties faced and the contribution made by the guerrillas. This is a story not only of extraordinary military success but a compelling tale of courage in the face of overwhelming odds.
The field equipment of the German Army in World War II was closely related to that used throughout World War I and earlier, yet it was of relatively light weight, ruggedly constructed, well designed, functional, and generally of a high quality, though this deteriorated in the later war years. A high degree of design standardisation was maintained in most categories of equipment, though materials and their colours often varied widely. There were also many different specialisations for the various arms of service as well as theatres of combat, such as the Afrikakorps in the Western Desert. This title investigates all manner of German combat equipments throughout World War II, from belt buckles to magazine pouches.
The German Army of World War II considered itself an offensive, mobile force. The experiences in the trenches in World War I had done much to shape its concept of field fortification, and its mobile warfare ethos was intended to prevent the previous war's stalemate. This book addresses frontline defensive field fortifications, built by infantrymen using local materials, and includes rifle platoon positions, trenches, crew-served weapon positions, bunkers, dugouts, shelters and more. It also covers anti-tank and anti-personnel obstacles, as well as field camouflage methods and construction methods. The integration of these positions into permanent systems and theatre-specific defences are also discussed.
In April 1862, the stage was set for one of the greatest locomotive chases in history. Union forces planned to steal a train and travel at high speed to Chattanooga, Tennessee, disabling the line as they went, in order to cut off vital rail supplies to the Confederate stronghold of Atlanta, Georgia, some 100-plus miles to the southwest. What they hadn't banked on was the dogged determination of one man, train conductor William Fuller, who, after realizing his train had been stolen, began a frantic pursuit, first by handcar, then by top-speed locomotive, dealing with derailments by running miles on foot to the next station, and single-handedly removing drag ties from the track in front of his train. The raiders were so hotly pursued that they had no time to inflict serious damage on the tracks and could not stop to gather more fuel. Just north of Ringgold, some miles south of Chattanooga, The General ran out of wood and the raiders scattered into the forested Appalachian Mountains. All were captured within days and sentenced to death. Discover the history of one of the most colorful and dramatic episodes of the Civil War as Gordon L. Rottman expertly recounts this incredible tale of sabotage, robbery and raiding on the rail lines of the Deep South.
The island of Guam was the first Allied territory lost to the Japanese onslaught in 1941. On 10 December 5,000 Japanese troops landed on Guam, defended by less than 500 US and Guamanian troops, the outcome was beyond doubt. On 21 July 1944 America returned. In a risky operation, the two US landing forces came ashore seven miles apart and it was a week before the beachheads linked up. Only the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa would cost the Americans more men than the landings on Guam and Saipan, which immediately preceded the Guam operation. In this book Gordon Rottman details the bitter 26-day struggle for this key Pacific island duringWorld War II (1939-1945).
Osprey's study of Inch'on, which was probably the most significant campaign in the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as the last major amphibious assault of division-size conducted in the history of warfare. The odds were stacked against the US troops, with virtually no time for training and many of the divisions unprepared for the conflict. The success of the Inch'on campaign is a testament to the sheer initiative of the officers and NCOs conducted it. This book details the strategy and tactics that led to the operation's success, as well as narrating the experience of the battle in fascinating detail.
When conscription was eliminated in the early 1970s, the US Army found itself with a very different kind of soldier. While the personality of the Army remained the same, the organization of its higher levels of command and combat formations, and the internal structure of its units underwent major changes under the 'Army of Excellence' program of the 1980s. This book explores the US Army of the late 80s, including the training methods, weapon systems, Reserve Components, organization and uniforms of one of the world's most potent fighting forces. The text is illustrated with numerous photographs and eight colour plates.
The Japanese conquest of the Pacific comprised of a complex series of widely scattered operations; their intent was to neutralize American, Commonwealth, and Dutch forces, seize regions rich in economic resources, and secure an outer defense line for their empire. Although their conquest was successful, the forces deployed from Japan and China were not always ideally trained, equipped and armed. The South Seas and tropics proved challenging to these soldiers who were used to milder climates, and they were a less lethal enemy on the Chinese mainland. This book examines the overall structure of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), the forces in existence at the beginning of World War II and the organization of the forces committed to the conquest of the Pacific.
This book examines in detail the Japanese Infantryman who was, despite comparisons with the notorious German Waffen SS of World War II (1939-1945), an enigma to Westerners. Brutal in its treatment of prisoners as well as the inhabitants of the areas that it conquered, the Imperial Japanese Army also had exacting standards for its own men - strict codes of honor compelled Japanese soldiers to fight to the death against the more technologically advanced Allies. Identifying the ways in which the Japanese soldier differed from his Western counterpart, the author explores concepts such as Bushido, Seppuku, Shiki and Hakko Ichi-u in order to understand what motivated Japanese warriors.
The prolonged and bloody fighting for control of the Japanese occupied Pacific islands in World War II is a key point in 20th-century warfare. No two islands were alike in the systems and nature of their defensive emplacements, and local improvization and command preferences affected both materials used and defensive models. This title details the establishment, construction and effectiveness of Japanese temporary and semi-permanent crew-served weapons positions and individual and small-unit fighting positions. Integrated obstacles and minefields, camouflage and the changing defensive principles are also covered.
Osprey's examination of Japan's parachute units of World War II (1939-1945). For the first time in English, this book offers a concise but fact-packed account of the organization, equipment, and all operations of Japan's small but elite wartime parachute forces. Correcting and amplifying previous accounts based on wartime intelligence, it traces the Imperial Army's Raiding Regiments and the Imperial Navy's parachute-trained Yokosuka 1st & 3rd Special Naval Landing Forces from the first trials units, through their successful assaults in early 1942, to the last desperate battles and raids of 1944-45. The text is illustrated with rare photographs, and meticulously reconstructed color artwork of the men and their gear.
Khe Sanh was a small village in northwest South Vietnam that sat astride key North Vietnamese infiltration routes. In September 1966 of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), a Marine battalion deployed into the area. Action gradually increased as the NVA attempted to destroy Free World Forces bases, and the siege of Khe Sanh proper began in October 1967. The bitter fight lasted into July 1968 when, with the changing strategic and tactical situation, the base was finally closed. This book details the siege and explains how, although the NVA successfully overran a Special Forces camp nearby, it was unable to drive US forces from Khe Sanh.
Described by one soldier as "a metal box designed by a sadist to move soldiers across the water," the Landing Craft, Infantry was a large beaching craft intended to transport and deliver an infantry rifle company to a hostile shore, once the beachhead was secured. The LCI, or as it was more commonly known, "Elsie Item," and its vehicle-delivery counterpart, the Landing Ship, Medium (LSM), were widely used by the allies during amphibious operations during World War II. They were mid-sized beaching craft filling the gap between the much larger LST and the many types of smaller bow-ramped, open cargo compartment landing craft. The LCI and LSM were the smallest landing ships assigned a Bureau of Ships hull number. In 1943 the hulls of the LCI and LSM were used as the basis for a new type of gunboat. These specialized fire-support crafts were intended to place suppressive fire on the landing beaches using automatic cannons, rockets, and mortars. While LCI and LSM were phased out after the Korean War, some fire support craft remained in use throughout the Vietnam War.Written by the author of Osprey's popular book on Landing Ship, Tanks, this book tells the developmental and operational history of this important tool of American amphibious military strategy that spanned three wars.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Landing Ship Tank (LST) is one of the most famous of the many World War II amphibious warfare ships. Capable of discharging its cargo directly on to shore and extracting itself, the LST provided the backbone of all Allied landings between 1943 and 1945, notably during the D-Day invasion. Through its history, the LST saw service from late 1942 until late 2002, when the US Navy decommissioned the USS Frederick (LST-1184), the last ship of its type. This book reveals the development and use of the LST, including its excellence beyond its initial design expectations.
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.
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.
"...the first-person perspectives offered by Kirby and Köhler put this book on my recommended books list. These personal experiences definitely stirred some interest for me to research more on the design, evolution, and field performance of each of the two tanks.- C. Peter Chen, World War II Database (July 2008)Smarting from their defeat at El Alamein and with directives to save the North African campaign, Rommel's battle-hardened armored divisions confronted a fresh opponent in the form of the newly arrived Americans. This would be a duel between the stalwart of the Wehrmacht armored divisions - the Panzerkampfwagen III - and the American's as yet untested first armored division. In reality both would prove unequal to the task as they floundered amidst the rugged hills and ravines of the Tunisian landscape. This book charts the design and development of these two disparate rivals - their vastly different armament and armor as well as their tactical concepts. Mutually hampered by the climate, terrain, and lack of experience, this was a desperate struggle for supremacy. Moreover, it was a duel with far-reaching implications. For the Americans it was their first baptism of fire and the outcome would determine their future war strategy. For the Germans, this was the final throw of the dice to regain the overwhelming superiority they had enjoyed during the first years of the war. Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of these two deadly opponents, this book explores the successes and failures of the Grant and Panzer III as they clashed at the critical battles of North Africa. Moreover it is an insight into the lives of the tank crews themselves as they struggled with the twin horrors of tank warfare and the fight for survival amidst some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth.
Following the capture of Tarawa in November 1943 during World War II (1939-1945), American eyes turned to the Marshall Islands. These were the next vital stepping-stone across the Pacific towards Japan, and would bring the islands of Guam and Saipan within the reach of US forces. In their first amphibious attack, the new 4th Marine Division landed on Roi and Namur islands on 1 February 1944, while US 7th Division landed on Kwajalein. At the time this was the longest shore-to-shore amphibious assault in history. The lessons of the bloody fighting on Tarawa had been well learned and the successful attack on the Marshalls set the pattern for future amphibious operations in the Pacific War.
US Special Forces in Vietnam created and trained the Civilian Irregular Defense Group, a large paramilitary organization designed to operate out of fortified camps in remote areas and protect the local population from Viet Cong incursions, whilst conducting border surveillance, raids and combat patrols in the local area. Their fortified camps were often overrun by the Viet Cong and, having no spare manpower, the US Special Forces created dedicated reaction units which could act in a responsive and flexible manner - Mobile Strike (MIKE) Forces.This book examines the MIKE units, which were formed from the CIDG, the parachute and airmobile training they were given, and the operations that they undertook, from relieving friendly camps to large-scale independent offensive operations. Written by Gordon L. Rottman, a former US Special Forces soldier in Vietnam, this title provides the first organizational history of the MIKE forces in this conflict.