This definitive guide covers the entire history of weapons, from the earliest, most primitive instruments up to remarkable advances in modern defense and warfare, including:
Completely revised and expanded since its French publication, Armoured Trains: An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1825-2016 is the first English-language edition of the authoritative work on the subject.
Military forces around the world were quick to see the advantages of railways in warfare, whether for the rapid deployment of men or the movement of heavy equipment like artillery. From this realization, it was a short step to making the train a potent weapon in its own right--a mobile fort or a battleship on rails. Armed and armored, they became the first practical self-propelled war machines. As demonstrated in the American Civil War, these trains were able to make a significant contribution to battlefield success.
Thereafter, almost every belligerent nation with a railway system made some use of armored rolling stock, ranging from low-intensity colonial policing to the massive employment of armored trains during the Russian Civil War. Although they were somewhat eclipsed as frontline weapons by the development of the tank and other armored fighting vehicles, armored trains retained a role as late as the civil wars in the former republic of Yugoslavia.
This truly encyclopedic book covers, country by country, the range of fighting equipment that rode the rails over nearly two centuries. While this book outlines the place of armored trains in the evolution of warfare, it concentrates on details of their design through a vast array of photographs and the author's meticulous drawings.
The East Wall was where the final battles for the stricken Third Reich were fought, amid scenes of utter carnage. Beginning life at the end of World War I, the wall became a pet project of Adolf Hitler's, whose ascent to power saw building work accelerated, with plans for a grand, 'Maginot-style' defence put in place. But with a characteristically erratic change of heart, Hitler began to systematically strip the wall of its best defensive assets to bolster the Atlantic Wall, never dreaming that he would face an attack on two fronts. Despite belated and somewhat bungled reinforcements later in the War, the Eastern Wall would face a monstrous challenge as it became the Reich's last redoubt in the face of the mighty Soviet war machine.
Neil Short brings his expert knowledge to bear with an analysis of different stages of the wall's construction, the years of neglect and decay and the hasty, drastic redevelopment in the face of the looming Soviet threat.
The T43 design represented the pinnacle of U.S. Army tank engineering of the late 1940s, with its cast elliptical hull and turret, Continental AV-1790 engine, cross-drive transmission, and torsion bar suspension. A range-finder and mechanical computer directed a powerful 120mm main gun in a novel electro-hydraulic turret, among other features. The heavy tank proved fairly popular with its crews, who above all respected the powerful armament it carried. Many challenges to the crewmen were taken on with a sense of pride. Typical was the job of the second loader to hand-ram both the projectile (positioned by the first loader at the breech) and the propellant cartridge into the chamber in a single movement, all within the confines of a narrow turret. The outbreak of war in Korea brought a rush order in December 1950 which led to a complete production run of 300 vehicles, considered sufficient for Army and Marine Corps requirements.
As might have been expected from the rush to production, the T43E1 failed its initial trials at Ft. Knox, mostly for erratic gun controls and poor ballistic performance of the projectiles. A modification program (of over 100 discrepancies) resulted in the standardization of the T43E1 as the 120mm gun combat tank, M103 in 1956.
After 1951, the Marine Corps alone retained confidence in the heavy tank program, investing its scarce funds in the improvements necessary to bring about its fielding after a hurried production run in midst of the 'tank crisis' of the year 1950-51. Without the Marine Corps' determination to bring the M103 to operational status, it seems clear that the 300 vehicles would have languished in storage before their eventual disposal. The correctness of the Marine Corps support of the M103 tank was in no small way acknowledged by the Army's borrowing of 72 M103A1 improved USMC tanks necessary for its single heavy tank battalion in Germany. No other weapon system, before the era of antitank missiles, could guarantee the destruction of the Russian heavies, which continued their service through the late 1960s. The eventual retirement of the M103 in 1972, over 20 years after manufacture and after 14 years of operational service, demonstrated the soundness of its engineering and fulfillment of its designed role. It may have been the unwanted 'ugly duckling' of the Army, which refrained from naming the M103 alone of all its postwar tanks. For the Marine Corps, it served the purpose defined for it in 1949 until the automotive and weapons technology of the United States could produce viable alternatives.