BRITISH TANKS AND FIGHTING VEHICLES 1914-1945 (by B.T.White) is one of those books. When it was published by Ian Allan in 1970 I saw it on sale in a local bookshop and almost bought a copy … but for some reason that I cannot now remember, I didn’t. I did borrow it a couple of times from the library, and enjoyed reading it. I also regretted not buying a copy when I could, especially as I was about to become a student and was – like all students – perennially short of funds from then on.
Even when I had finished college my financial situation did not improve much. My pay as a teacher was not very good for the first few years of my career, and by the time I had enough money to begin indulging my book buying bug, the book was no longer available.
During one of my periodic visits to the nearby Falconwood Transport and Military Bookshop (5 Falconwood Parade, The Green, Welling, Kent, DA16 2PL) I happened to see that they had a near-pristine copy of the book on sale … so I bought it!
The book is as good as I remember it being and – more importantly – it fills a gap in my collection of Ian Allan military books.
Now before I start to get all sorts of comments about my audacity to state that I thought that Don Featherstone actually wrote something that was not very good, may I quote from John Curry‘s foreword to the recently republished – and heavily revised – edition of the book.
As with many of Donald Featherstone’s books, there is a story behind the book. The first edition of Complete Wargaming in 1988 was an editorial shambles. The publishers wanted another wargaming book on their lists and so they turned to the author in British wargaming, who duly assembled some wargaming material that had not been used in his previous works. The publishers turned over the material to an editor who obviously knew nothing about wargaming and apparently nothing about history. The ideas, scenarios, rules and historical pieces were assembled into a random sequence that was based on efficient use of the page count; such as putting smaller pieces into the margins of the book wherever they fitted. Unfortunately, the lively correspondence between the author and the publisher as a consequence of this editing has not survived the passage of time. At some point, Donald Featherstone decided it was better to let the publisher get the book into print, ‘wargamers, being a group of above average in intelligence and endeavour, would uncover the pieces of immediacy and use them.’ Upon reflection, this was probably the correct view.
Thanks to the work of John Curry – ably assisted by Arthur Harman – the book has now been completely restructured into a logical sequence … and is much better as a result. I know, because I have now bought a copy!
The book is now organised into three sections, with each section having separate chapters.
- Section 1: reflections on Wargaming
- Chapter 1: Wargaming for Real
- Chapter 2: Rules – A Necessary Evil
- Chapter 3: Planning a Wargame
- Chapter 4: Fighting in Built Up Areas: A Desirable Wargaming Residence
- Chapter 5: Weather in Wargaming
- Chapter 6: Treachery: Double-dealing on the Wargames Table
- Chapter 7: Civilians in Wargaming
- Chapter 8: the Fog of War
- Chapter 9: Surrendering and Prisoners-of-War
- Chapter 10: Tabletop Terrain
- Chapter 11: Forming a Club
- Section 2: Historical Scenarios and Notes
- Chapter 12: Early Wheeled Warfare – Chariots of the Ancients
- Chapter 13: The first battle of All Time – Qadesh
- Chapter 14: Ancient Warfare: Cynoscephelae (197 BC), the Roman Legion, the Roman Civil War and Boudicca’s Revolt
- Chapter 15: Ponderous Pachyderms – Rules for Elephants
- Chapter 16: The Incomparable English Archer, the Forerunner of the English Infantryman
- Chapter 17: They Fought for Gold! Mercenaries of the Middle Ages
- Chapter 17: Wargaming The Thirty Years War (N.B. For some reason there are TWO Chapter 17s in my copy!)
- Chapter 18: Formal Warfare of the 18th century
- Chapter 19: War of The American Revolution
- Chapter 20; Wellington in the Peninsular
- Chapter 21: The American Civil War – Instant Wargaming
- Chapter 22: The Sands of The Desert …
- Chapter 23: Great-Grandfather’s War – The Boer War 1899-1902
- Chapter 24: They Came in Like Great Birds …! The Storming of Eben Emael 1940
- Chapter 25: Pure War – Tanks in the Desert 1940-42
- Chapter 26: They came From the Sea – Commando Raids – Saint Nazaire
- Chapter 27: A Battle For All Seasons – Auberoche
- Section 3: Reference
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book … which is – to all intents and purposes – a new one rather than a merely revised and re-edited one. Its details are as follows:
PART IV: THE BLEEDING EDGE
- Wargaming Futures: Naturalizing the New American Way of War by Luke Caldwell and Tim Lenoir
- Creating Persian Incursion by Larry Bond
- Modeling the Second Battle of Fallujah by Laurent Closier
- Playing with Toy Soldiers: Authenticity and Metagaming in World War I Video Games by Andrew Wackerfuss
- America’s Army by Marcus Schulzke
- We the Soldiers: Player Complicity and Ethical Gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare by Miguel Sicart
- Upending Militarized Masculinity in Spec Ops: The Line by Soraya Murray
PART V: SYSTEMS AND SITUATIONS
- Wargames as Writing Systems by Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
- Playing Defense: Gender, Just War, and Game Design by Elizabeth Losh
- Debord’s Nostalgic Algorithm by Alexander R. Galloway
- The Ludic Science Club Crosses the Berezina by Richard Barbrook
- War Games by David Levinthal
- Troubling the Magic Circle: Miniature War in Iraq by Brian Conley
PART VI: THE WAR ROOM
- Wargames as an Academic Instrument by Philip Sabin
- Lessons from the Hexagon: Wargames and the Military Historian by Robert M. Citino
- Simulation Literacy: The Case for Wargames in the History Classroom by Rob MacDougall and Lisa Faden
- The Amateur Designer: For Fun and Profit by Charles Vasey
- Struggling with Deep Play: Utilizing Twilight Struggle for Historical Inquiry by Jeremy Antley
- Model-Driven Military Wargame Design and Evaluation by Alexander H. Levis and Robert J. Elder
PART VII: IRREGULARITIES
- Gaming the Nonkinetic by Rex Brynen
- Inhabited Models and Irregular Warfare Games: An Approach to Educational and Analytical Gaming at the US Department of Defense by Elizabeth M. Bartels
- Chess, Go, and Vietnam: Gaming Modern Insurgency by Brian Train and Volko Ruhnke
- Irregular Warfare: The Kobayashi Maru of the Wargaming World by Yuna Huh Wong
- A Mighty Fortress is Our God: When Military Action Meets Religious Strife by Ed Beach
- Cultural Wargaming: Understanding Cross-Cultural Communications Using Wargames by Jim Wallman
PART VIII: OTHER THEATERS
- Wargaming (as) Literature by Esther MacCallum-Stewart
- Tristram Shandy: Toby and Trim’s Wargames and the Bowling Green by Bill McDonald
- Third Reich and The Third Reich by John Prados
- How Star Fleet Battles Happened by Stephen V. Cole
- Total Global Domination: Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000 by Ian Sturrock and James Wallis
- When the Drums Begin to Roll by Larry Brom
- War Re-created: Twentieth-Century War Reenactors and the Private Event by Jenny Thompson
PART IX: FIGHT THE FUTURE
- War, Mathematics, and Simulation: Drones and (Losing) Control of Battlespace by Patrick Crogan
- How to Sell Wargames to the Non-Wargamer by Michael Peck
- Wargaming the Cyber Frontier by Joseph Miranda
- The Unfulfilled Promise of Digital Wargames by Greg Costikyan
- Civilian Casualties: Shifting Perspective in This War of Mine by Kacper Kwiatkowski
- Practicing a New Wargame by Mary Flanagan
The book explains how to fight a wargames campaign that covers Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union) from June until September 1941. It is designed to work with rules in which a stand represents a platoon, but it seems to me that the basic system will work with most rules that cover World War II, including my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules.
The campaign map uses point-to-point movement, with each node on the map generating a potential battle between the Axis forces and the Russians.
The book contains:
- A short history of the campaign (this has also been published in Andrew Rolph’s earlier book GREY STEEL, RED STORM – REGIMENTAL SCENARIOS IN THE SOVIET UNION 1941-1943);
- Background information (including time scale, ground scale, and suggestions for additional/optional rules) that will help wargamers adapt the system so that it will work with a particular set of rules;
- A system for generating tabletop terrain for individual battles;
- Numerous Appendices that cover:
- Platoon and Company-level Tables of Organisation and Equipment for the divisions and regiments involved in the campaign;
- Forty-two coloured terrain squares that can be used with the tabletop terrain generation system;
- An example of how the tabletop terrain generation system works;
- A Campaign Quick Reference Sheet;
- An example of a Campaign Turn;
- A set of suitable quick-play rules for use with the campaign system;
- A full colour A4-sized Campaign Map.
Andrew sent the link to me because he knows that I have had plans to re-fight Operation Barbarossa for a very long time, and having read it, I can see the potential his campaign system has in helping me achieve my ambition.
BARBAROSSA: KICKING IN THE DOOR … is written and published by Andrew Rolph. It is available from the Wargames Vault as a watermarked PDF ($4.95) or as a softback book with coloured illustrations ($9.95) or as a combined purchase of PDF and book (usually $14.90 but currently on sale at the discounted price $9.95).
WARSHIP first came out in 1977, and the current issue is the fortieth volume to be published. It was originally a quarterly publication, but after several years it moved over to become an annual.
The current volume contains the following:
- Niels Iuel: ‘A funny little Danish warship’ by Tom Wismann
- The Battle of the River Plate: A Tactical Analysis by Alan D Zimm
- Under the Guns: Battle Damage to Graf Spee, 13 December 1939 by William J Jurens
- The Armoured Cruiser Jeanne d’Arc by Luc Feron and Jean Roche
- Breaking ‘Ultra’: The Cryptologic and Intelligence War between Britain and Italy, 1931-1943 by Enrico Cernuschi
- The IJN Light Cruiser Oyodo by Hans Lengerer
- Coastal Defence and Coastal Offence: Russian Monitor Designs of the First World War Era by Stephen McLaughlin
- Modern Naval Replenishment Ships by Conrad Waters
- Lost in the Fog of War: Royal Navy Cruiser Designs for Trade Protection 1905-1920 by David Murfin
- Amatsukaze: A Destroyer’s Struggle by Michael Williams
- USS Huntington (ex-West Virginia) by A D Baker III
- Warship Notes
- The IJN’s 15.5cm Gun & Triple Turret by Hans Lengerer
- The Sinking of U-56 in 1916: An enduring mystery by Stephen McLaughlin
- Political nomenclature in the US Navy by Kenneth Fraser
- Warship Gallery
- A series of photographs of former U-boats in Japan during the early 1920s presented by Stephen Dent and Ian Johnston
At first glance this looks as if it is going to be one of the best issues ever, with every single article or section having something that I will enjoy reading and re-reading. In particular, the coverage of the battle damage suffered by Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate is going to be very helpful when it comes to designing wargames, and the article about Russian Monitor designs contains some wonderful ‘what if’ designs that would be relatively easy to model, and which would – if suitably updated for service in the Soviet Red Fleet – have posed serious problems for the Kriegsmarine during Operation Barbarossa.
An excellent publication … and I will be ordering next year’s issue as soon as I can!
WARSHIP 2018 is edited by John Jordan and published by Osprey Publications (ISBN 978 1 4728 2999 3).
Over the past few years they have begun to publish a range of workshop manuals about a wide range of types of transport, including the RMS Titanic, the AVRO Lancaster bomber, and Saturn V rocket. One of this series that I had not come across before was the manual for the T-34 tank, but as I saw it on sale for only £4.00 in a local branch of THE WORKS, I just had to buy a copy.
The book is subtitled ‘1940 to date (all models)’ … and it certainly seems to do exactly that. Its chapters include:
- The T-34 story
- T-34 at war 1941-45
- Operating the T-34
- T-34s in post-war foreign service
- Anatomy of the T-34/76
- T-34 weaponry and firepower
- T-34 variants including SPGs
- The T-44
- T-34 turrets
I have several books about the T-34, but this one seemed to cover the technical aspects of the design and its variants better than the rest … and at the price being charged, it was a bargain.
T-34 TANK: OWNER’S WORKSHOP MANUAL was written by Mark Healy and published by Haynes Publishing in 2018 (ISBN 978 1 78521 094 5).
* This expression was used in an episode of DAD’S ARMY by Private Walker when referring to Corporal Jones’s service in the Sudan Campaign.
I’ve always loved the Tintin books, and as Hergé (Georges Remi) was well-known for the accurate depiction of places and vehicles in his books, I had to buy a copy. This is slightly longer than is sister publication (60 pages) but it follows the same basic layout. It is interesting to note that the illustrations used reflect the changes made by Hergé when the drawings were re-done at various times during the publication history of the Tintin stories.
A SCALE MODELLER’S GUIDE TO AIRCRAFT FROM THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN was written and illustrated by Richard Humberstone and published by Blue Rider Publishing in 2015 (ISBN 978 1 32 067258 0)
The book is a thin paperback (40 pages) but it contains numerous 1:72nd-scale colour drawings of all the main aircraft types used by both sides during the Chaco War. It also contains a brief history of the war as well as a chronology of the main air operations carried out by both sides. Whilst it was not cheap, it is a very helpful addition to my collection of books etc., about the Chaco War.
A SCALE MODELLER’S GUIDE TO AIRCRAFT OF THE GRAN CHACO WAR was written and illustrated by Richard Humberstone and published by Blue Rider Publishing in 2015 (ISBN 978 1 32 055024 6)
The book is a slim paperback (it only has eighty pages), but it contains over two hundred illustrations and gives details about the organisation of the air forces involved and the missions that were flown. Reading it made me wonder if at some time in the future I ought to consider producing a military source book about the war along the lines of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA … but I have a few other projects that I want to finish first!
This is one of the lesser-known campaigns of the war, and featured a number of interesting land battles between Axis forces (including Germans, Romanians, and a few Italians) and the Red Army as well as coastal operations and amphibious landings by units of the Black Sea Fleet.
THE KUBAN 1943: THE WEHRMACHT’S LAST STAND IN THE CAUCASUS was written by Robert Forczyk and illustrated by Steve Moon. It was published by Osprey Publishing in 2018 as No.318 in their ‘Campaign’ series (ISBN 978 1 4728 2259 8).