Osprey's Big Reveal: Combat

In Military History, Featured
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In 2020, 14 opposing forces will face off on the battlefield in seven new books. Read the descriptions below and let us know which head-to-heads you are interested in.

 

CBT: British Rifleman vs French Skirmisher

The battles between British and French forces during the Peninsular War (1807–14) and the Hundred Days campaign of 1815 saw both sides deploy specialist units of skirmishers trained in marksmanship and open-order combat. These ‘light’ troops fulfilled several important roles on the battlefield, such as ‘masking’ large bodies of close-order troops as they manoeuvred in battle, firing upon enemy troops to provoke them into attacking prematurely, and harassing enemy artillery crews and senior officers with aimed fire. On occasion, the skirmishers were tasked with special missions requiring individual initiative, such as the capture or defence of key battlefield positions, especially those situated in difficult terrain.

In this study, David Greentree assesses the role and effectiveness of rifle-armed British troops and their French open-order opponents in three very different encounters: Roliça (August 1808), the first British battle of the Peninsular War; the struggle for a key bridge at Barba del Puerco (March 1810); and the bitter fight for the La Haye Sainte farmhouse during the battle of Waterloo (June 1815).

 

CBT: French Soldier vs German Soldier

On 21 February 1916, the German Army launched a major attack on the French fortress of Verdun. The Germans were confident that the ensuing battle would compel France to expend its strategic reserves in a savage attritional battle. However, initial German success in capturing a key early objective, Fort Douaumont, was swiftly stemmed by the French defences. The Germans then switched objectives, but made slow progress towards their goals; by July, the battle had become a stalemate.

During the protracted struggle for Verdun, the two sides’ infantrymen faced appalling battlefield conditions; their training, equipment and doctrine would be tested to the limit and beyond. New technologies, including flamethrowers, hand grenades, trench mortars and more mobile machine guns, would play a key role in the hands of infantry specialists thrown into the developing battle, and innovations in combat communications were employed to overcome the confusion of the battlefield. French Soldier vs German Soldier outlines the two sides’ wider approach to the evolving battle, before assessing the preparations and combat record of the French and German fighting men who fought one another.

 

CBT: US Soldier vs German Soldier

During World War II, the US Army and its allies faced a formidable challenge: the need to assault Hitler’s ‘Fortress Europe’ from the sea. As a result, during 1941–45, the US Army had to add amphibious assault to its list of combat capabilities. Officers and troops from across the US Armed Forces had to develop the techniques and technologies to assault the coasts of Axis-occupied Europe. The Germans had to devise a practical defensive doctrine that made the most of the limited resources and troops available and the terrain.

This illustrated study analyses the specialist beach-landing troops involved in three key battles – the Allied amphibious landings at Salerno and Anzio in Italy, and Omaha Beach in Normandy – focusing upon the US Army’s various types of beach-assault specialists and their German opponents. Each of the three featured battles is then examined in detail, exploring how the Germans made defensive preparations; how the US troops planned to overcome them; and the immediate actions undertaken by the US amphibious specialists and their German opponents both during and following the main assault landings.

 

CBT: Soviet Soldier vs Finnish Soldier

In a bid to recapture territory conceded following the Winter War of 1939–40, Finnish forces cooperated with Nazi Germany and other Axis powers during the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Rapid Finnish progress in reoccupying lost ground in Karelia during the first few months of the invasion gave way to a more static form of warfare from October 1941. The Finns resisted German pressure to participate fully in the Axis attack on the beleaguered Soviet-held city of Leningrad, and the Continuation War came to be characterized by trench warfare and unconventional operations conducted by both sides behind the front lines. In June 1944 the stalemate was abruptly ended by a massive Soviet offensive that pushed the Finns back; the two sides clashed in a series of major battles, including the battle of Tali-Ihantala, with the Finns halting the Soviet advance before agreeing to an armistice that September.

The evolving military situation in this sector of the Eastern Front meant that the soldiers of the Soviet Union and Finland fought one another in a variety of challenging settings, prompting both sides to innovate as new technologies reached the front line. In this study, the doctrine, training, equipment and organization of both sides’ fighting men are assessed and compared, followed by a detailed assessment of their combat records in three key battles of the Continuation War.

 

CBT: Roman Soldier vs Parthian Horse Archer

In 53 BC, Roman and Parthian forces collided in a confrontation that would reshape the geopolitical map and establish a frontier between East and West that would endure for the next 700 years. From the initial clash at Carrhae through to the battle of Nisibis more than 250 years later, Roman and Parthian forces fought a series of bloody campaigns for mastery of the Fertile Crescent. Although Rome’s legions were masters of the battlefield in the Mediterranean, the Parthians refused to fight by the rules as Rome understood them. Harnessing the power of the composite bow and their superior manoeuvrability, the Parthians’ mode of warfare focused exclusively on the horse. In this title, Si Sheppard examines the conflict through the lens of three key battles, revealing a clash between two armies alien to each other not only in culture but also in their radical approaches to warfare.

 

CBT: US Air Cavalry Trooper vs North Vietnamese Soldier

During the Vietnam War, the helicopter air assault truly came of age. The first such action was Operation Chopper in 1962, the US Army’s deployment of 1,000 South Vietnamese paratroopers against Viet Cong strongholds west of Saigon. With continuing experience came greater ambition, and by 1965 the United States had established fully airmobile battalions, brigades, and divisions, including the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

This division brought to Vietnam a revolutionary new speed and dexterity in battlefield tactics, using massed helicopters to liberate its soldiers from traditional overland methods of combat manoeuvre. Yet as experience would show, the communists would adjust their own thinking to handle airmobile assaults. Specializing in ambush, harassment, infiltration attacks, and small-scale attrition, the North Vietnamese operated with light logistics and a deep familiarity with the terrain.

This study charts the evolution of US airmobile tactics pitted against North Vietnamese countermeasures. The two sides are analyzed in detail, including training, logistics, weaponry, organization, US aviation assets, US airmobile assault theory, and NVA defensive and offensive tactics. Three specific battle studies illustrate how each side attempted to gain the advantage: Operation Silver Bayonet, Operation Masher, and Operation Delaware.

 

CBT: German Soldier vs Polish Soldier

The Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939 saw mostly green German troops face equally inexperienced Polish forces. With the Polish senior leadership endeavouring to hold the country’s industrialized east, Hitler’s forces unleashed what was essentially a large pincer operation intended to encircle and eliminate much of Poland’s military strength. Harnessing this initial operational advantage, the Germans were able to attack Polish logistics, communications and command centres, thereby gaining and maintaining battlefield momentum. With the average infantry soldier on both sides comparatively well-led, equipped and transported, vital differences in battlefield support (especially air power and artillery), tactics, organization and technology would make the difference in combat.

German Soldier vs Polish Soldier focuses upon three actions that reveal the evolving nature of the 1939 campaign. All three battles (The battle of Tuchola Forest, battle of Wizna, and the battle of Bzura) featured in this book cast light on the motivation, training, tactics and combat performance of the fighting men of both sides in the 1939 struggle for Poland.

Post Comments

Redcoat posted on 23 Aug 2019 01:37:17
Hooray! An actual Napoleonic title. A welcome change from all the US Battlefield Cook v Waffen SS Combat Tailor type of subjects. (Said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).
GI Gene posted on 22 Aug 2019 17:17:56
The WWI, WWII, and Vietnam titles will be on my shopping list in 2020. When you have the Big Reveal for Combat near year, just say "The August 2019 Poll" and you will have a lot of happy customers...
AdamC posted on 22 Aug 2019 09:08:54
Yeah, that's a fair list for 2020 chaps. It's got a bit of everything really. The Napoleonic title is probably the highlight for me personally but the German/Polish and Russian/Finnish titles also look interesting. No real complaints from me all round.
PAUL W posted on 17 Aug 2019 21:10:06
I'm definitely a fan of this serries and looking forward to all of them. They cover a wide range of conflicts and participants. I actually like the mini campaign aspect as they cover areas that wouldn't make a full campaign book. Similar to the raid books.
kuvaszsleepybear posted on 17 Aug 2019 19:48:50
Pretty Ho-hum,the only one that really trips my trigger is the Polish vs German and I'd get the Soviet vs Finn if was in the right mood the day it's available.
Tarawa90 posted on 17 Aug 2019 18:32:14
I think I'm looking forward to the Rifleman book the most. (Guilty of being a Sharpe fan) Roman's vs. Parthians and Vietnam I'm looking forward to as well. Most of the rest are a shrug but will be added to the list.
KenA posted on 17 Aug 2019 15:39:39
I only purchase the occasional title in this series when the title covers forces and/or a theatre of particular interest and would likely supplement the information I already have in other books. Of those on the list, the Soviet/Finnish Soldier title catches my eye as probably worth a try.

The book covering US amphibious assaults made me wonder. Did anyone in the US know that the Brits had conducted an amphibious assault on Vichy French Madagascar in May 1942 (Operation Ironclad)? I mean, they could have got some valuable intel for free!
Paintybeard posted on 17 Aug 2019 13:12:51
I'm still finding this series to be a very hit-and-miss affair. Sometimes you get a coherent narrative that tells you about how each side evolved their doctrine, but on other occasions it is just three disjointed snapshots; mini-campaigns with little useful analysis.

That said I shall be pleased to try the Napoleonic title and the book covering US beach assaults might be worth a look.

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