The Bolsheviks' seizure of power in Russia in late 1917 was swiftly followed by the establishment of the Cheka, the secret police of the new Soviet state. The Cheka was central to the Bolsheviks' elimination of political dissent during the Russian Civil War (1917-22). In 1922 the Soviet state-security organs became the GPU and then the OGPU (1923-34) before coalescing into the NKVD. After it played a central role in the Great Terror (1936-38), which saw the widespread repression of many different groups and the imprisonment and execution of prominent figures, the NKVD had its heyday during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). During the conflict the organization deployed full military divisions, frontier troop units and internal security forces and ran the hated GULAG forced-labour camp system. By 1946, the power of the NKVD was so great that even Stalin saw it as a threat and it was broken up into multiple organizations, notably the MVD and the MGB - the forerunners of the KGB. In this book, the history and organization of these feared organizations are assessed, accompanied by photographs and colour artwork depicting their evolving appearance.
A detailed study of the Syrian and Lebanon campaign of World War II.
In June 1941, Australian, British, Indian and Free French forces invaded the Vichy French-controlled mandate of Syria and Lebanon. They faced an enemy that had more artillery, tanks and aircraft. They fought in rocky, mountainous terrain, through barren valleys and across swollen rivers, and soon after the initial advance faced a powerful Vichy French counter-attack on key strategic positions. Despite these difficulties, the Allies prevailed, and in doing so ensured that the territory did not fall into German or pro-German hands, and thus provide a springboard from which Axis forces could attack British oil interests in Iraq, the key territory of Palestine or the Suez Canal. This book examines the high military and political strategy that lay behind the campaign, as well as the experiences and hardships as endured by the men on the ground. The battles in Syria and Lebanon were complex actions, often at the battalion level or below, and this work uses extensive war diaries and available records to make sense of the actions and examine how they affected the wider campaign.
This study looks at how the Soviet armed forces developed and deployed a range of machine guns that fitted with their offensive and defensive infantry tactics across six years of total war.
In 1939, three machine guns dominated the Red Army's front-line infantry firepower - the DShK 1938 heavy machine gun, the PM M1910 medium/heavy machine gun and the Degtyaryov DP-27, a lighter, bipod-mounted support weapon. Confronted by cutting-edge German technology during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), the Soviets responded with the development of new weaponry, including the RPD light machine gun, the 7.62x54mmR SG43 medium machine gun and the improved version of the DP-27, the DPM. Taken together, all these weapons gave the Red Army a more practical range of support weapons, better able to challenge the Germans for fire superiority on the battlefield.
Fully illustrated, this study explains the technology and the tactics of these machine guns. Noted authority Chris McNab sets out how these machine guns were distributed and tactically applied and provides numerous examples of the weapons in action, from assault teams on the streets of Stalingrad to tank crews struggling for survival at Kursk. The book also reflects upon the weapons' post-war service; many of the machine guns remain in front-line use today. Illustrated with high-quality photographs and specially commissioned artwork, this is a deep analysis of these essential tools of warfare within the Soviet forces.
A rigorous new analysis of America's legendary 'Big Week' air campaign which enabled the Allies to gain air superiority before D-Day.
The USAAF's mighty World War II bomber forces were designed for unescorted, precision daylight bombing, but no-one foresaw the devastation that German radar-directed interceptors would inflict on them. Following the failures of 1943's Schweinfurt-Regensburg raids, and with D-Day looming, the Allies urgently needed to crush the Luftwaffe's ability to oppose the landings.
In February 1944, the Allies conceived and fought history's first-ever successful offensive counter air (OCA) campaign, Operation Argument or "Big Week." Attacking German aircraft factories with hundreds of heavy bombers, escorted by the new long-range P-51 Mustang, it aimed both to slash aircraft production and force the Luftwaffe into combat, allowing the new Mustangs to take their toll on the German interceptors. This expertly written, illustration-packed account explains how the Allies finally began to win air superiority over Europe, and how Operation Argument marked the beginning of the Luftwaffe's fall.
This absorbing study casts light on the tactics, weapons and combat effectiveness of the US Marines and North Korean soldiers who fought one another in August and September 1950.
Equipped with Soviet tanks and bolstered by a cadre of combat veterans returning from the Chinese Civil War, North Korea's army launched its surprise offensive against the Republic of Korea on 25 June 1950; within days Seoul had fallen and the majority of South Korea's divisions had been shattered. American ground troops rushed to Korea also seemed incapable of stopping the rapidly advancing North Koreans. By August, the remnants of the South Korean and US Army divisions had been pushed into a small corner around the port of Pusan, their backs to the sea. Time was also running out for the North Koreans; virtually all of their planning and preparations were based on a two-month campaign. Although the North Korean People's Army had enjoyed an impressive string of victories, its losses were no longer being replaced in the needed quantity or quality. It was truly a do-or-die moment for both sides.
In the wake of World War II, the United States Marine Corps had shrunk from 473,000 men in 1945 to only 70,000 in 1950. Despite its heavily slashed budget and manpower, the Marine Corps responded swiftly and decisively. Active-duty Marines from all over the globe gathered and for once the Marine Corps even received some of the latest American military equipment; it was the Marines' esprit de corps that made the real difference, however. Using first-hand accounts and specially commissioned artwork, this study assesses the KPA and US Marine Corps troops participating in three crucial battles - Hill 342, the Obong-Ni Ridge and the Second Battle of Seoul - to reveal the tactics, weapons and combat effectiveness of both sides' fighting men in Korea in 1950.
This new volume straps the reader into the cockpit of the P-51B/C as the Mustang-equipped fighter groups of the 'Mighty Eighth' Air Force attempt to defend massed heavy bomber formations from deadly Luftwaffe fighters charged with defending the Third Reich.
Luftwaffe Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering admitted that the appearance of long-range Mustangs over Berlin spelled the end of the Jagdwaffe's ability to defeat American daylight bombing. But the Mustang was far more than an escort - it was a deadly hunter that could out-perform nearly every German fighter when it was introduced into combat. Entering combat in Europe in December 1943, P-51Bs and P-51Cs had advantages over German Bf 109s and Fw 190s in respect to the altitude they could reach, their rate of climb and top speed. Initially tapped for close bomber escort, Mustangs were quickly turned loose to range ahead of the bomber stream in order to challenge German fighters before they could assemble to engage the bombers en masse. Thanks to the Mustang's superior performance, USAAF pilots effectively blunted the Luftwaffe's tried and tested tactic for destroying B-17s and B-24s. Boldness and aggression in aerial combat meant that P-51B/C pilots inflicted a rapidly mounting toll on their German counterparts in the West during the early months of 1944, contributing mightily to Allied air superiority over northern France on D-Day.
This volume, packed full of first-hand accounts, expertly recreates the combat conditions and flying realities for Mustang pilots (including headline aces such as Don Blakeslee and Don Gentile, as well as lesser known aviators). It is heavily illustrated with photographs, artwork and innovative and colourful 3D ribbon diagrams, which will provide a realistic overview of the most dynamic dogfights in aviation history.