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From spathas to tanks, the Weapon series has a fantastic range of books publishing in 2020. Find out more about the upcoming titles and let us know which ones are your favourites!
WPN: The Spatha
Adopted from the Celts in the 1st century BC, the spatha, a lethal and formidable chopping blade, became the primary sword of the Roman soldier in the Later Empire. Over the following centuries, the blade, its scabbard, and its system of carriage underwent a series of developments, until by the 3rd century AD it was the universal sidearm of both infantry and cavalry. Thanks to its long reach, the spatha was the ideal cavalry weapon, replacing the long gladius Hispaniensis in the later Republican period. It remained the main Roman sword into the Late Roman period and its influence survived into the Dark Ages with Byzantine, Carolingian and Viking blades.
Drawing together historical accounts, excavated artefacts and the results of the latest scientific analyses of the blades, renowned authority M.C. Bishop reveals the full history of the development, technology, training and use of the spatha: the sword that defended an empire.
WPN: The Browning High-Power Pistol
Making its debut in 1935, the Browning High-Power was the world’s most widely used military pistol for much of the 20th century. Military and law-enforcement agencies in more than 90 countries have issued the High-Power and it has seen combat in conflicts from World War II through to the ‘War on Terror’. After conquering Belgium, Nazi Germany produced more than 300,000 High-Powers for use by the Waffen-SS, Fallschirmjäger and others, and after 1945 the High-Power became standard for most NATO-armed forces as well as scores of others.
Chambered for the 9×19mm Luger cartridge, John Browning’s High-Power improved on the classic Colt M1911 design, especially in its use of a far simpler takedown system. During its eight-decade production run at Fabrique Nationale (FN) in Belgium, the design evolved slightly, but a 2017 High-Power was still easily recognizable as a descendant of the original model. Packed with gripping material including detailed technical specifications, contemporary photographs and highly accurate artist’s renditions, this title is a comprehensive and informative guide to one of the world’s most iconic semi-automatic pistols.
WPN: The Medieval Longsword
The formidable European longsword – featuring a double-edged straight blade in excess of 40in, and capable of being used with one or both hands – remains one of the most impressive and distinctive edged weapons of the late medieval era. Also known as the ‘bastard’ sword and the ‘hand-and-a-half’ sword, the longsword evolved from the war swords and great swords of the 14th century, and emerged as a battlefield weapon in the early stages of the Hundred Years’ War. It went on to become a key weapon on the battlefields of late medieval Europe, creating a new system of sword fighting.
Drawing together period sources, modern technical analysis and his own experiences with the longsword, Neil Grant explores the origins, manufacture and evolving use of this iconic late-medieval edged weapon. Illustrated throughout with specially commissioned full-colour artwork and an array of period illustrations and close-up photographs, this is the enthralling story of one of late-medieval Europe's most distinctive and deadly close-combat weapons.
WPN: The PIAT
Designed in 1942, Britain’s innovative Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank (PIAT) provided British and Commonwealth troops with a much-needed means of taking on Germany’s formidable Panzers. Replacing the inadequate Boys anti-tank rifle, it was conceived in the top-secret World War II research and development organization known colloquially as ‘Churchill’s Toyshop’, alongside other ingenious weapons such as the sticky bomb, the limpet mine and the time-pencil fuse.
Operated from the shoulder, the PIAT was a spigot mortar which fired a heavy high-explosive bomb, with its main spring soaking up the recoil. The PIAT had a limited effective range. Troops required nerves of steel to get close enough to an enemy tank to ensure a direct hit, often approaching to within 50ft of the target. A front-line weapon in every theatre of the conflict in which Commonwealth troops fought, from Europe to the Far East, the PIAT remained in service after 1945, seeing action during the Greek Civil War, the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Korean War. This illustrated study combines detailed research with expert analysis to reveal the full story of the design, development and deployment of this revolutionary weapon.
WPN: Weapons of the Civil War Cavalryman
During the American Civil War the mounted soldiers fighting on both sides carried a wide array of weapons, from sabers and lances to carbines, revolvers, and other firearms. Though some sections of the cavalry placed their trust in the saber, the advent of viable breechloading carbines – especially repeaters such as the Spencer – was to transform warfare within little more than a decade of General Lee’s final surrender at Appomattox. However, output struggled to keep up with unprecedented demands. In addition, almost unparalleled losses of men and equipment ensured that almost any firearm, effectual or not, could be pressed into service. The sheer variety of weaponry carried reflected the mounted soldiers’ various roles in different theaters of operation, but also the availability – or otherwise – of weapons, notably on the Confederate side.
Fully illustrated, this study assesses the effectiveness of the many different weapons arming the Civil War cavalryman and considers the decisions made after 1865 concerning the armament of the US cavalry.
WPN: Early Military Rifles
The military use of rifled firearms evolved together with the operational art of war in the century after 1740. The conduct of combat operations in open order during the 18th and 19th centuries required an improved firearm with more accuracy than the standard-issue smoothbore infantry musket. The appearance of a new type of regular light infantry soldier and an innovative military firearm – the rifle – marked the beginning of a new age in the history of warfare.
Rifle-armed specialists fought for several nations during the Napoleonic Wars, but it was the decades after 1815 that saw the appearance of successful rifled percussion firearms, paving the way for the widespread issue of rifled weapons, a development accelerated by the Prussian adoption of the Dreyse ‘needle gun’ in 1848. The French Minié rifle (1849) was the first successful conical ball rifle concept to be issued to regular troops in large numbers, thereby transforming infantry warfare. Fully illustrated, this study charts the development, combat use, influence and legacy of rifled firearms in a host of conflicts.