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From double-headed axes to sniper rifles, our Weapon series has a great new selection of books publishing in 2019. With six new topics coming your way, it'll be hard to pick a favourite.
WPN: Hotchkiss Machine Guns
Created by a long-forgotten Austrian nobleman, Adolf Odkolek von Augezd, the air-cooled Hotchkiss machine gun was the first to function effectively by tapping propellant gas from the bore as the gun fired. Although overshadowed by the water-cooled Maxim and Vickers Guns, the Hotchkiss had proved its effectiveness during the Russo-Japanese War. Towed on sleds and manhandled over obstacles, Japan’s 1900-type Hotchkiss guns showed the value of overhead and enfilade fire: lessons which had to be re-learned at such terrible cost on the Western Front.
The Hotchkiss medium machine gun was successful enough to persuade Laurence Benét and Henri Mercié to develop the Modèle Portative: a man-portable version. However, the strip feed was awkward to handle. The Hotchkiss Portative was one of the first automatic weapons to be mounted on aircraft and the first to obtain a ‘kill’ in aerial combat. A British-made version, adopted in 1916 to answer a perceived shortage of machine guns, equipped the earliest tanks.
WPN: Sniping Rifles on the Eastern Front 1939–45
The Soviet Union had developed a significant sniping force by 1939, but the extraordinary skill and cunning display by Finnish snipers during the Winter War forced the Soviets to innovate. On the other side, German sniping suffered from a lack of standardization of weapons and a lack of marksman deployed at the start of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). There were few heroes in the conflict, but on both sides, the snipers were idolized – especially on the Soviet side, gaining almost mythical status.
As well as traditional bolt-action weapons, both sides used several types of semi-automatic rifle, such as the SVT-38 and the Gew 41. Offering greater firepower at the expense of long-range accuracy, such weapons would be profoundly influential in the postwar world.
WPN: The Arisaka Rifle
Entering service in 1897, the Arisaka family of bolt-action rifles armed Japanese troops and others through two world wars and many other conflicts, including the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05.
Issued in long and short versions – the latter for cavalry and specialists – the Type 30 was the first main Arisaka model, arming Imperial Japan’s forces during the Russo-Japanese War, though after the war it was refined into the Type 38, which would still be in use in 1945. The main Arisaka rifle of World War II though was the Type 99. Lighter and more rugged than the US M1903 Springfield rifle it would face in the initial battles in the Pacific, it was produced in four main variants, including a sniping model and a take-down parachutist’s rifle.
WPN: The G3 Battle Rifle
During the Cold War, the G3 was one of the world’s pre-eminent battle rifles. Developed in France and Spain after 1945, the rifle was produced by the German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch. Adopted by more than 40 countries and produced on licence by many more, it was widely employed during colonial wars in Africa, insurgencies in Latin America and conflicts in the Middle East, but perhaps its widest use was in the Iran–Iraq War. Variants of the G3 have also seen substantial usage among Special Forces including Britain’s Special Boat Service and the US Navy SEALs. Semi-automatic versions, especially the HK91 and HK93, remain popular in the United States, and the G3-derived HK11 and HK21 family of light machine guns have also been widely adopted by military and law-enforcement units across the world.
WPN: Weapons of the US Special Operations Command
The units and formations of the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have privileged access to the finest weaponry in the world’s arsenal.
This means that, while SOCOM troops frequently use standard-issue weaponry, they also adopt many specialist pieces of kit that are not so accessible to the broader armed services, including sniper rifles, battle rifles, and machine guns, as well as high-tech tactical accessories used to transform standard weaponry into something exceptional.
Assessing the technology and capabilities of these combat weapons, as well as how they have been used in modern combat, this new Weapon title lifts the veil on some of the most distinctive hand-held weapon systems of US special operations forces since 1987.
WPN: Weapons of the Viking Warrior
Between the late 8th and late 11th century Viking warriors had a massive impact not just in northern Europe, but across a huge arc from the western Mediterranean round through northern Europe and the Baltic to the Middle East and Central Asia. Their success depended in part on their skills in battle, their unique sense of strategic mobility, and on the quality of their weapons and equipment. Written by an expert on early medieval weaponry, this book examines the weapons of the typical Viking warrior, dispels some of the myths of the popular image, such as double-headed axes, and considers the range of weapons that actually underpinned the Vikings’ success including bows and arrows.