After failing to defeat the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Adolf Hitler planned a new campaign for the summer of 1942 that was intended to achieve a decisive victory: Operation Blue (Case Blau). In this new campaign, Hitler directed that one army group (Heeresgruppe A) would advance to seize the Soviet oilfields in the Caucasus, while the other (Heeresgruppe B) pushed on to the Volga River.
The expectation was for a rapid victory - instead, German forces had to fight hard just to reach the outskirts of Stalingrad, and then found themselves embroiled in a protracted urban battle amid the ruins of a devastated city on the Volga. The Soviet Red Army was hit hard by the initial German offensive but held onto the city and then launched Operation Uranus, a winter counteroffensive that encircled the German 6. Armee at Stalingrad. Despite a desperate German relief operation, the Red Army eventually crushed the German forces and hurled the remnants of the German southern front back in disorder.
This first volume in the Stalingrad trilogy covers the period from 28 June to 11 September 1942, including operations around Voronezh. The fighting in the Don Bend, which lasted weeks, comprised some of the largest tank battles of World War II - involving more armour than the tanks employed at Prokhorovka in 1943.
In late 1941, war was looming with Japan, and Britain's empire in southeast Asia was at risk. The British government decided to send Force Z, which included the state-of-the-art battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse, to bolster the naval defences of Singapore, and provide a mighty naval deterrent to Japanese aggression. These two powerful ships arrived in Singapore on 2 December - five days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But crucially, they lacked air cover. On 9 December Japanese scout planes detected Force Z's approach in the Gulf of Thailand. Unlike at Pearl Harbor, battleships at sea could manoeuvre, and their anti-aircraft defences were ready. But it did no good. The Japanese dive-bombers and torpedo-bombers were the most advanced in the world, and the battle was one-sided.
Strategically, the loss of Force Z was a colossal disaster for the British, and one that effectively marked the end of its empire in the East. But even more importantly, the sinking marked the last time that battleships were considered to be the masters of the ocean. From that day on, air power rather than big guns would be the deciding factor in naval warfare.
The term 'pre-dreadnought' was applied in retrospect, to describe the capital ships built during the decade and a half before the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. At that moment these once great warships were rendered obsolete. However, until then, they were simply called 'battleships' and were unquestionably the most powerful warships of their day. These mighty warships represented the cutting edge of naval technology. The ugly ducklings of the ironclad era had been transformed into beautiful swans, albeit deadly ones.
In Britain, this period was dominated by Sir William White, the Navy's Chief Constructor. Under his guidance the mastless battleships of the 1880s gave way to an altogether more elegant type of capital ship. The period of trial and error which marked the ironclad era ushered in a more scientific style of naval architecture. As a result, these battleships were among the most powerful warships in the world during the late Victorian era, and set a benchmark for the new battle fleets produced by navies such as Japan, Russia and the United States.
Illustrated throughout with full-colour artwork, this fascinating study offers a detailed and definitive guide to the design, development and legacy of the Royal Navy's battleships at the turn of the 20th century as they paved the way for the coming of the Dreadnought.
In the wake of Italy's rapid annexation of Albania in April 1940, Mussolini's decision to attack Greece in October that year is widely acknowledged as a fatal mistake, leading to a domestic crisis and to the collapse of Italy's reputation as a military power (re-emphasized by the Italian defeat in North Africa in December 1940). The Italian assault on Greece came to a stalemate in less than a fortnight, and was followed a week later by a Greek counter-offensive that broke through the Italian defences before advancing into Albania, forcing the Italian forces to withdraw north before grinding to a half in January 1941 due to logistical issues. Eventually, the Italians took advantage of this brief hiatus to reorganize and prepare a counteroffensive, the failure of which marked the end of the first stage of the Axis Balkan campaign.
The first of two volumes examining the Axis campaigns in the Balkans, this book offers a detailed overview of the Italian and Greek armies, their fighting power, and the terrain in which they fought. Complimented by rarely seen images and full colour illustrations, it shows how expectations of an easy Italian victory quickly turned into one of Mussolini's greatest blunders.
The Numidian light cavalry were among the best-known horsemen in the ancient world: riding without saddles or bridle, carrying only hide shields for defense and clutching a handful of light javelins, they were renowned for their darting attacks, swift retreats, and skirmishing prowess. Yet, as much as they were respected by their allies and enemies, they were unfairly derided for their indiscipline, their perceived lack of culture, and their fecklessness, and dismissed as uncivilized, nomadic barbarians from beyond the fringes of the cultured, settled Mediterranean world. The famous portrayal of Numidian horsemen on Trajan's Column, of barefoot riders in simple tunics, astride tiny ponies, reinforces this view, and is the image that is almost universally reproduced.
Recent scholarship, however, has shown that there is far more evidence for the armour and equipment of the Numidians than hitherto assumed. The carved stone shields and cuirasses that punctuate the decorative friezes of the stone 'altars' at Kbor Klib and Chimtou in North Africa are confident representations of Numidian panoplies, not captured Carthaginian armour as has previously been argued. In this book, this research is presented alongside a close examination of various ancient texts which reveals that the Numidians also fielded infantry, slingers, archers, and even war elephants in conflicts across the Mediterranean, including Spain, Greece, northern Italy, and Thrace. All of these troops are brought to life in original colour artwork, complemented by chapters on their weapons and equipment, history, tactics, and organization.
The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), waged between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies, involved some of the most important developments in ancient warfare. A life-and-death struggle between the two most powerful Greek city-states in the wake of their combined successes against the Persian invasion of Xerxes in 480-479 BC, the conflict dragged in communities from all over the Greek world on one side or the other. Ranging from the Black Sea to Sicily, the war saw the first recorded widespread use of light-armed troops, reserves, the deep phalanx, and other ideas important for the development of Western warfare into the 4th century BC, such as strategic thinking. It also revealed lessons (some learned and some not) with respect to the strengths and weaknesses of hoplite warfare and the various states in Greece. Featuring full-color artwork and drawing upon an array of sources, this study of three pivotal clashes between Spartan and Athenian hoplite forces during the Peloponnesian War highlights all of these developments and lessons.