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Battle Craft 1: The Battles of El Alamein (Paperback)

The End of the Beginning

Colour Books Military > Modelling Photographic Books WWII > Battles & Campaigns > El Alamein WWII > Battles & Campaigns > North Africa

By Ben Skipper
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Battle Craft
Pages: 64
Illustrations: 200 colour & black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399007627
Published: 2nd February 2022



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The early battles of North Africa between the Axis powers and the British Commonwealth and her European allies were among the very last clashes of chivalry. At the small town of El Alamein belligerents met and fought, on two occasions, for overall control of both Egypt and the Suez in the latter half of 1942. For the Allies, the battles were also a chance to destroy Axis ambitions in the Western Desert, whilst gaining mastery of the Mediterranean and a foothold in Southern Europe.

The two battles, in July, and October to November 1942, were to see men and equipment tested to the very limit of their capabilities. They were also the first major battles where Allied intelligence and all arms planning played a key part in defeating an experienced adversary. These battles would cement the two armies' and their commanders' reputations in perpetuity and sows the seeds for the steady defeat of the Axis in the West.

This Battle Craft title also looks at four pieces of military hardware that were involved in these legendary battles. Representing the land forces are the Crusader and Panzer III, both working to the limits of their designs and already legends in their own rights. The Desert Air Force’s Curtiss P40Es and the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf109 Es represent the battle for air superiority that raged overhead.

The Quartermaster section provides the modeller with an insight into the development and operational use of the four chosen vehicles and aircraft that were involved in the Battles of El Alamein. A selection of historical and contemporary photos and illustrations feature alongside stunning showcase builds, providing the modeller with subjects to whet the creative appetite. It also features details of model kits and extras that can really help the modeller bring military history to life.

This book is a modeller's dream. Aimed at the new or returning modeller this book, as part of the Battle Craft series provides a magnificent overview for anyone who is building a diorama war gaming and modelling campaign. The book provides an extremely useful contextualisation of this campaign. To that end, this is a wonderfully detailed and visual book which brings to the fore the story of one of the most pivotal battle of the Second World War. Following the war, Churchill wrote that "before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat".

Jon Sandison

All in all, even if you are knowledgeable on El Alamein, Skipper’s book is worth a gander; and if you are not, then this is a good place to start.

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Beating Tsundoku

As featured on Scale Modelling Now

Scale Modelling Now

"...a shot of Mersa Matruh from a ridge outside town really adds meaning to a dot on a hex map and offers an idea of size for tabletop terrain."

Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, September 2022

"Aimed at the new or returning modeler, featuring easy to copy building, painting, weathering and detailing techniques to help bring a model to life."

AMPS Indianapolis Review 2022

I really like the layout of this book, as it is presented in an informative and logical manner. With both the modeller and those that want to read the title getting a good level of information provided. Text and images are of a good quality, and I commend Ben Skipper for tackling a complex subject in so few pages.

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The Battle Craft series of books is aimed squarely at the Military Modeller, and this one does not disappoint. Pages 33 to 64 feature a selection of tanks and aircraft with crisp colour photographs and text that covers the relevant development and operational history, together with build notes for the featured model.

Kits covered include a Crusader, Panzer III ausf L, Bf 109 E-4/N tropisch, and Curtis P-40 Warhawk. An interest in any one of these subjects might justify purchase of the book.

The first section of the book is a concise summary of the battles around El Alamein, with useful source photographs. Some of these will be familiar to readers but some are new to this reviewer, providing context for diorama subjects. A handy summary order of battle down to divisional and independent brigade level is included on page 5. It also includes the air forces supporting the battles for both sides of the conflict.

Chris Kemp

Four stars for knowledge, interesting presentation and quality of publishing.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

What a good start to this new series, and Ben has done a good job with picking out the content and providing a clear description of both the history and the modelling elements. Recommended, not just for the nice clear history of the battles, but for modellers as well.

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Military Model Scene

This new series comes in an A4 Softcover design and looks at various battles of significance, the aim of this series is to combine a basic history of the particular battle and the machines and vehicles involved in that battle in a model format. What makes this different to other book series is that it features all the planes, tanks and vehicles involved rather than just the one type like in the Tank Series. Being a Pen & Sword Book you have a well-written history supported by great text and supporting photographs, but also you have great model photos of all the vehicles used in that battle. Although these books are still a great read and thoroughly recommended, especially for model makers of WWII.

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UK Historian

A good introductory narrative of El Alamein that is well supported by images and maps. As ever in this series, the section for modellers is excellent.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Ben Skipper

Ben Skipper is a freelance writer with over 100 articles on art, military and field sports subjects. He’s a member of the Society of Authors, the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and the NUJ as well as being an Honorary Member of the Pen and Sword Club (military journalists and writers).

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