Osprey's Big Reveal: Weapon

In Military History, Featured

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It's time to arm yourself, as we bring you an exclusive look at WPN 60-65, coming in 2018! 

The “Trapdoor” Springfield: From the Little Bighorn to San Juan Hill

Intended to replace the proliferation of different small arms fielded by US forces during the American Civil War, the “Trapdoor Springfield” was designed in 1865–66 by Erskine S. Allin. Using metallic cartridges, it could be loaded in a single action, increasing the number of shots per minute as much as fivefold. The new weapon quickly proved its worth in two separate incidents in August 1867: small groups of US soldiers and civilians armed with the trapdoor repulsed numerically superior Native American contingents. A simple and cost-effective weapon, it was used, along with its variants in every US conflict in the three decades after the Civil War, especially on the American frontier.

The Anti-Tank Rifle

The emergence of the tank in World War I led to the development of the first infantry weapons to defend against tanks. Anti-tank rifles became commonplace in the inter-war years and in the early campaigns of World War II in Poland and the Battle of France, which saw renewed use in the form of the British .55in Boys anti-tank rifle - also used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific. The French campaign made it clear that the day of the anti-tank rifle was ending due to the increasing thickness of tank armour.

Nevertheless, anti-tank rifles continued to be used by the Soviets on the Eastern Front with two rifles, the 14.5mm PTRS and PTRD, and were still in widespread use in 1945. They served again with Korean and Chinese forces in the Korean War, and some have even appeared in Ukraine in 2014–15.

The Crossbow

Technologically sophisticated and powerful, the crossbow has long enjoyed a popular reputation for villainous superiority as it enabled a peasant to take out a fully armoured noble knight from great range. The study of bow designs, trigger mechanisms and spanning devices reveals a tale of considerable mechanical ingenuity; advances that produced a battlefield weapon requiring comparatively little training to use. It was an extremely useful weapon, and especially effective in siege warfare for both attack and defence.

Known to the Ancient Greeks and the Chinese as early as the 5th century BC, the crossbow developed both in Western Europe and in the Far East. Advances in trigger mechanisms, spanning and bow design allowed the development of ever more powerful bows.

The FN MAG Machine Gun: M240, L7, and other variants

For six decades, the 7.62mm FN MAG has been a dominant general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) in worldwide arsenals. Three qualities have guaranteed this enduring status – reliability, ease of operation, and firepower. Several nations have license-produced the weapon as their standard GPMG, including the British (as the L7) and the Americans (M240), and in total more than 80 nations have adopted the FN MAG. The machine gun has also been modified extensively for vehicular, naval, and aircraft platforms, demonstrating versatility on air, sea, and land.

The Luger

Patented in 1898 and produced from 1900, Georg Luger’s iconic semi-automatic pistol became synonymous with Germany’s armed forces throughout both world wars. Rugged, accurate and well made, it was a sought-after souvenir for Allied troops and remains popular among collectors today.

The Luger’s toggle-locked, recoil-operated action worked well with high-pressure cartridges. Initially chambered for the 7.65×21mm round, from 1902 the Luger was designed for DWM’s 9×19mm round, which even today remains the most popular military handgun cartridge. It was adopted by the Reichsmarine, the Imperial German Navy, in 1904, followed by the Deutsches Heer, the German Army, in 1908, receiving the name Pistole 08. With a 20cm barrel and a shoulder stock, the Lange Pistole 08 or ‘Artillery Luger’ was issued to artillerymen in place of the rifles or carbines typically used by other countries’ supporting arms. Although it didn’t prove successful in a full-automatic configuration, when combined with a shoulder stock and a ‘snail’ magazine the Luger proved to be a lethal close-quarters trench-warfare weapon offering a much better rate of fire than a rifle or a carbine. Despite being supplanted by the Walther P 38, the Luger remained in widespread service with all arms of Nazi Germany’s armed forces throughout World War II, and even equipped East Germany’s Volkpolizei in the years after 1945.

The Sterling Submachine Gun

One of the Cold War’s most iconic weapons, the 9mm Sterling submachine gun saw action in more than 50 conflicts. Adopted by over 40 countries, it was in front-line service around the world for nearly 60 years. The Sterling’s advanced design placed its pistol grip at the weapon’s point of balance, making it an extremely handy weapon which was so well balanced it could be aimed and fired with one hand; helical cuts made to its bolt ensured the gun continued to function even when dirty.

The Sterling was used by military and police forces around the world and continues to be found in warzones today, with the Kurdish Peshmerga recently photographed armed with them. It was centre stage for many of Britain’s post-colonial conflicts from Malaya to Kenya and from Yemen to Northern Ireland. The silenced L34A1 Sterling-Patchett entered service in 1966 and first saw action deep in the jungles of Vietnam in the hands of the elite special forces of Australia, New Zealand and the United States during prisoner snatches and reconnaissance patrols.

How many of these will be joining your Weapon collection? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Post Comments

overman posted on 23 Sep 2017 07:49:56
All of them look fantastic, but the most appealing is the Anti-Tank Rifle title. There are so many to cover Polish wz35, PTRD, PTRS, PzBuchse 38/39, the venerable Solothurn S-18/100, 1000, 1100 variations, etc; perhaps there should be several volumes??

'Weapons' is probably my favorite series overall/
AdamC posted on 21 Aug 2017 08:19:01
@Neil Grant - That's great news about the Medieval Longsword title!!! Something to look forward to for 2019!
Hessy Field posted on 19 Aug 2017 10:47:00
I agree with the comments that this is a very good list - I'm particularly pleased to see the GPMG and the Sterling and anything by Mike Loades (as I know he is the author of 'The Crossbow') is to be welcomed - I really enjoyed his earlier books on the longbow and the composite bow.
Paintybeard posted on 18 Aug 2017 19:37:12
Hi Neil, yes, I'm one customer you can be sure of. Looking forward to the Tank crew book in November as well.
Neil Grant posted on 18 Aug 2017 16:56:21
@Paintybeard - Well, in the case of the Luger, the author is me, so hopefully that'll sway your decision on that one appropriately :-)

@Adam C - the medieval longsword effectively lost its original author. My understanding is that it took some time to find out he wasn't going to be able to do it, after which Osprey had to find a new author (...coincidentally, also me) who had to re-pitch the book from scratch, as the previous author hadn't submitted anything. I'll be writing it next year, so it'll be out the year after that - there's a relatively long time lag because a) writing books is my "second job" so I only write one a year and b) the artwork etc means that there is 6-12 months between me submitting a finished manuscript and the book appearing.
AdamC posted on 18 Aug 2017 09:47:24
Great WPN list for 2018 there chaps. I’ll be picking up four of those (Anti-Tank Rifles, Crossbow, GPMG and Sterling). Its nice to see some of the successful Book Vote titles making it into print too – the GPMG (won with 26% back in June 2015) and the Sterling (came second to the H&K G3 with a strong 28% in September 2016) both did really well when the were put up for the vote. If I had one slight quibble it would be that its all very firearms orientated, a sword or something similar would have been nice – what happened to the Medieval Long Sword? All in all though a good list. Bring on the next one!!!
Tarawa90 posted on 17 Aug 2017 22:10:38
Ah, I see you guys got the hint about speeding up the reveals.

Anyway, Knew about the Crossbow and Anti-Tank rifle, surprised it took so long to get the Luger out. The Trapdoor Springfield is my "Oddball" pick-up.
Paintybeard posted on 17 Aug 2017 20:02:56
Very pleased to see that the Sterling Sub-machine Gun has got its own title. Most of the others look interesting too. As always finding out who the author is will be an important factor in deciding how many I finally buy.

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