In today's blog post, we're looking at three fantastic pieces of artwork from three of our June 2022 titles. Let us know what you think in the comments section and, if you would like to see any artwork from any of our July titles, be sure to mention that too!
The Polish Navy 1918–45: From the Polish-Soviet War to World War II by Przemyslaw Budzbon
Illustrated by Paul Wright
THE BATTLE OF CHERNOBYL, 27 APRIL 1920
The port of Chernobyl was taken by Polish troops at around 0600hrs. Six Soviet ships managed to escape and joined the Bolshevik gunboats heading downstream and withdrawing from areas already captured by the Poles. To cover their retreat, the gunboats blocked the Pripyat River approximately 8km downstream at what was an excellent tactical position. At this point the Pripyat flows straight for over 5km and is 600–1,000m wide, which gave the gunboats freedom to manoeuvre and good firing positions against any vessels approaching from further upstream. The Bolshevik force consisted of five armed steamers: Mstitel’nyj, the river ‘battleship’ armed with two 130mm naval guns, accompanied by the smaller Gerojskij, Gubitel’nyj, Molodetskij and Mudryj, each armed with four 75mm field guns.
The five armed steamers were pursued by vessels of the Polish Pińsk Flotilla – the armed steamer Pancerny 1 and four armed launches – under the command of Sub Lieutenant Adam Mohuczy, the vessels’ total firepower consisting of three 75mm and three 37mm guns. As they made their approach they were perfectly illuminated in the morning sunlight. After passing a bend in the river, Pancerny 1 and MP-1 anchored on the right-side riverbank and a fire-control station was improvised in the crown of a clump of tall pine trees.
Both sides opened fire from the distance of around 4–5km. After two hours no hits had been scored, and Bolshevik salvoes started to frame the Polish ships. In response, they moved forward to shorten the distance and at around 1000hrs scored a hit in the ammunition magazine of Gubitel’nyj that started a fire followed by an explosion which sank the ship. The remaining Bolshevik steamers retreated downstream, chased by the Poles. After passing the next bend in the river, the Bolshevik ships resumed fire, but hits on Mudryj and Molodetskij meant that they had to be taken in tow and the whole Dnieper Flotilla made off downstream. A hit on the bow and shocks caused by the recoil of the forward 75mm gun loosened riveting on Pancerny 1 which resulted in leakages, and so the vessels of the Pińsk Flotilla abandoned the chase.
The Oil Campaign 1944–45: Draining the Wehrmacht's Lifeblood by Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrated by Edouard A. Groult
HORST WESSEL OVER THE BALTIC
By the summer of 1944, the Me 410 heavy fighter was less than ideal for the bomber interception mission. It was simply too slow and unmaneuverable to survive against the USAAF escort fighters. By the spring of 1944, the tactic of attacking the bombers from the rear using rockets was abandoned since the rocket tubes significantly degraded the Me 410’s performance. Instead, various cannon upgrades were used to enhance the lethality of the Me 410 against bombers such as the Me 410B-2/U2/R4 seen here. The “U” suffix indicated Umrüst-Bausätze, factory conversion kits while the “R” identified the Rüstsätze armament upgrade. Although the MK 103 30mm cannon was a preferred option, shortage of these weapons led to the use on this version of two 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns and two 13mm MG 131 machine guns in the nose, plus two 20mm MG 151 cannons in a pannier under the fuselage. In spite of their shortcomings, the Me 410 could be deadly when it caught the bombers without their escorts. On June 20, II./ZG 26 ”Horst Wessel” hit the 492nd Bomb Group and other elements of the 2nd Bomber Division over the Baltic, claiming 36 bomber kills. P-51s intervened later, and ZG 26 had 12 of their heavy fighters shot down or crashed while landing.
Artwork requested by Adam C.
The East Africa Campaign 1914–18: Von Lettow-Vorbeck's Masterpiece by : David Smith
Illustrated by Graham Turner
ATTACK ON THE KÖNIGSBERG, 11 JULY 1915
Five days after the Königsberg was first attacked by monitors in the Rufiji Delta, British ships returned to finish off the German light cruiser. Two spotter planes circled the cornered German ship, relaying information to the monitors.
Flying conditions were dangerous. There was heavy cloud and the fragile planes were also hunted by shrapnel bursts from the Königsberg and improvised anti-aircraft installations on shore. One of the spotter planes is shown just after taking a hit from a shrapnel shell. It would ditch in the Rufiji shortly afterwards, although both crew members survived.
Only half of the Königsberg’s guns could be brought to bear on the monitors, her port armament unable to join the battle, but this meant the German ship would not rattle through her reserves of precious ammunition too quickly. The starboard guns were soon firing in response to the shots of Mersey and Severn. Mersey opened fire first, her shots first flying over her target and then falling short. Massive craters were left on the beach from this and the bombardment five days earlier, testimony to the tremendous power of the 6in. guns of the British monitors.
In contrast to the inaccuracy of the first assault, both monitors were soon finding their target regularly and Königsberg was gradually worn down. Two of her starboard guns were knocked out of action and the most intense period of fire then followed, as Severn scored nine hits out of 15 shells in a devastating 12-minute period. Even after the German ship was scuttled, Mersey continued to fire for a further 45 minutes, using the great plume of smoke billowing forth from Königsberg as a marker.
Artwork requested by Paul W