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Artillery Warfare, 1939–1945 (Hardback)

WWII Photographic Books Military

By Simon Forty, Jonathan Forty
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 250 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526776785
Published: 21st October 2020



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It is said that artillery won the Second World War for the Allies – that Soviet guns wore down German forces on the Eastern Front, negating their superior tactics and fighting ability, and that the accuracy and intensity of the British and American artillery was a major reason for the success of Allied forces in North Africa from El Alamein, in Italy and Normandy, and played a vital role in the battles of 1944 and 1945. Yet the range of weapons used is often overlooked or taken for granted – which is why this highly illustrated history by Simon and Jonathan Forty is of such value. They stress the importance of artillery on every front and analyse how artillery equipment, training and tactical techniques developed during the conflict.

The selection of wartime photographs – many from east European sources – and the extensive quotations from contemporary documents give a graphic impression of how the guns were used on all sides. The photographs emphasize the wide range of pieces employed as field, anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery without forgetting self-propelled guns, coastal and other heavyweights and the development of rockets. The authors offer a fascinating insight into the weapons that served in the artillery over seventy years ago.

The photographs are the standout attraction, but the authors’ use of primary source material is also useful for understanding this vital component of industrialized warfare. The book was enough for me as a passing WWII reader, but it is also a very good gateway book into further reading if you are so inclined.

Beating Tsundoku

This is a valuable reference source that takes extracts from historical documents to outline the thinking of the day with comprehensive text that gives context for these documents. All of this is accompanied by hundreds of photographs that give an insight into the role played by artillery of all nations in World War II. Model makers will be inspired by many of the photographs and military historians interested in World War II artillery weapons and the men who manned them will find much of interest.

Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicles Association

A very interesting review of all aspects related to artillery during World War II.

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Miniaturas JM

Artillery is not an aspect of war which is studied in as much detail as famous infantry units or more glamorous weapons such as aircraft and tanks, yet it had a profound effect on every Second World War battlefield, softening up the front line, harassing the rear areas, disrupting and breaking up enemy attacks, and of all the weapons used was responsible for the overwhelming majority of all casualties. This book is divided into seven main chapters, covering field, self-propelled, anti-tank, anti-aircraft, very large calibre guns, rocket projectors, and ammunition types. It is very lavishly illustrated with over 400 photographs, accompanied by detailed explanatory notes, showing many examples of the vast menagerie of Allied and Axis guns in use in a variety of theatres, while the main narrative provides numerous fascinating insights into the specifics of how each army organised, deployed, used, and supplied its forces.

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Pegasus Archive

I believe that Simon and Jonathan's book reinforces the impression I got from the comic strips I used to read in my 1950s comics that it was artillery that swung the war in Britain's and the Allies' direction. Superbly illustrated, this is testament to the courage and skills of extraordinary men in the execution of their duty. An amazing book.

Books Monthly

Sandwiched within the photos and captions are excerpts from a variety of wartime analyses about artillery doctrine and use.

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Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

This offering from Pen and Sword, authored by Simon and Jonathan Forty and titled Artillery Warfare1939-45 if a fantastic title for the modeller looking to identify artillery pieces and those how wish to replicate, a realistic diorama or vignette. The presentation style makes for a pleasing book that is a joy top look through when both seeking information or inspiration.

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For modellers and military historians alike I felt this is a good, clear explanation of the many different types of artillery which were used by the combatants all around the world during WW2. More than happy to recommend this one.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

This book is about big guns and their use from 1939 to 1945. As with their book on Tank Warfare Simon and Jonathan Forty [book reviewed on this site] have given us a super insight into that period. Both theory and practice are covered using original reports on actions, training documents and technical instructions for a wide range of topics. There are useful comparisons, many shown diagrammatically, between weapons and ammunition of different nations. Included also, as very long range artillery, are the V1 and V2 rockets.
A superb eight page Abbreviations and Glossary section at the beginning of the book clarifies all the technical terms and delivers a basic understanding of the fundamentals of artillery.
There are hundreds of photographs and an extensive bibliography.
This book is made special because it is almost encyclopaedic in scope and because of the amount of contemporary material reproduced here without the clutter of ‘wisdom after the event’. From mountain warfare with guns on mules to V2 rockets and everything between makes it well worth a place on anyone's reference shelf.
We highly recommend this work to all levels of readers.

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Clash of Steel

I am sure that you would learn a lot about the usages and types of World War 2 artillery by reading this book. It will appeal to both specialists in this field and the more general World War 2 reader. The authors have done great service and their research must have taken a massive amount of time. I can say with confidence that this book is an exceptionally good introduction into the types and manner of usage of artillery weaponry during the conflict. There are many nuggets of information which I am sure all readers will find. It is well worth the cover price and I am sure that you too will greatly benefit by reading its well-researched contents.

Dr Stuart C Blank

I have read Tank Warfare by the same authors just a couple of month again, that book was a really fantastic book and I learnt a lot from it, so my hopes for this book were high. This book is split up into chapters such as Field Artillery, Self-Propelled, Anti-Tank, Anti-Aircraft, Big Guns, Rockets and Ammunition. Each chapter looking at how it worked, how to get the best out of it and what damage it could do for you, supported by some great photographs. The book also has a great glossary and notes section found at the front and back of the book. I said I was hoping for a good read and I can certainly say this is fantastic book, almost like a how to manual. It reminded me of a good Images of War book but that might be because of the great photographs but it’s combined with great information too written by the authors.

5 stars

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UK Historian

This excellent single volume packs an awful lot into a pretty small space.

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A Question of Scale

This volume sits well with the previous subject of ‘Tank Warfare’. It delivers a comprehensive explanation of the types and calibre of artillery in WW2 and is very well supported by relevant images. An excellent reference book.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Simon Forty

Simon Forty was educated in Dorset and the north of England before reading history at London University’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He has been involved in publishing since the mid-1970s, first as editor and latterly as author. 

Son of author and RAC Tank Museum curator George Forty, Simon and his brother Jonathan have continued the family tradition, writing mainly on historical and military subjects including books on Hadrian's Wall, the Napoleonic wars and the two world wars, often in collaboration. Simon's latest book, published by Historic England, is D-Day UK: 100 Locations in Britain; Jonathan's Heavyweights: The Military Use of Massive Weapons. They are also co-authors of Tank Warfare 1939-1945.

About Jonathan Forty

Jonathan Forty was educated in Dorset and the north of England before attending Queen Mary College, London. He designed and worked on military magazines, including for many years Tank magazine.

Son of author and RAC Tank Museum curator George Forty, Jonathan and his brother Simon have continued the family tradition, writing mainly on historical and military subjects including books on Hadrian's Wall, the Napoleonic wars and the two world wars, often in collaboration. Simon's latest book, published by Historic England, is D-Day UK: 100 Locations in Britain; Jonathan's Heavyweights: The Military Use of Massive Weapons. They are also co-authors of Tank Warfare 1939-1945.

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