2022's Big Reveal continues in today's blog post with all the upcoming titles for the second half of the year from our General Military and Aviation list, Commissioning Editor, Kate Moore, and Editorial Director, Marcus Cowper tell us what we can expect from July to August!
In the second half of 2023 we are releasing our usual wide range of topics, with highly illustrated aviation titles on the air war in the skies over Afghanistan and a new history of the Lockheed Blackbird, based on declassified material, sitting alongside dramatic narratives focussing on a wide range of historical periods from the Norman Conquest to the desperate convoy battles of World War II.
One of the highlights is the first in Prit Buttar’s two-volume history of the epic siege of Leningrad. Prit has increasingly made a name for himself as one of the foremost historians of the Eastern Front of his generation, and this will be a definitive new study. Mike Livingston, author of Never Great Slaughter and Crécy: Battle of Five Kings turns his attention to the most famous of all medieval battles – Agincourt.
Let us know what you think in the comments!
The Convoy: The untold story of HG-76 – the Convoy that fought back
By Angus Konstam
The Convoy represents a fresh approach to the story of the Battle of the Atlantic. It is also the first to deal with the more spectacular story of HG-76, a major turning point in the naval war.
HG-76 sailed from Gibraltar to Britain in December 1941 and was specially targeted by the Germans. A wolfpack of U-boats was sent against it, and the Luftwaffe was heavily committed too in a rare example of German inter-service cooperation. German intelligence agents in Gibraltar and Spain also knew every detail of HG-76 before it had even sailed, seemingly stacking the odds in favour of the Kriegsmarine.
Despite this the convoy fought its way through. Improved radar and sonar gave the convoy’s escorts a slight edge over their opponents, while the escort group was led by Commander Walker, an anti-submarine expert who had developed new, aggressive U-boat hunting tactics. Previous Gibraltar convoys had been mauled by Luftwaffe bombers operating from French airfields. This time, though, HG-76 would be accompanied by HMS Audacity, the Royal Navy’s first escort carrier – a new type of warship purpose-built to defend convoys from enemy aircraft and U-boats.
Following seven days and nights of relentless attack, the horrors of which are brought home through a series of first-hand accounts, the convoy finally reached the safety of a British port for the loss of only two merchant ships. Its arrival was seen as the first real convoy victory of the war. Brought to life by expert naval historian Angus Konstam, The Convoy reveals both the terror and the stubborn determination that defined the experiences of those that served on convoy duties.
2SAS: Bill Stirling and the forgotten SAS unit of World War II
By Gavin Mortimer
A fascinating history of Bill Stirling and 2SAS whose founding role as the pioneers of modern special forces has been overlooked for decades. Draws on recently declassified files and interviews with veterans to give a unique and fresh history.
David Stirling is the name synonymous with the wartime SAS, but the real brains behind the establishment and evolution of the regiment was in fact Bill Stirling, David’s eldest brother. Bill was described in the SAS War Diary as ‘a man from the shadows’; it was an apt depiction for, unlike his attention-seeking brother who revelled in the media sobriquet, ‘The Phantom Major’, Bill shunned the spotlight.
Now for the first time the truth – and the triumph – of the 2SAS is revealed. Gavin Mortimer reveals how it is Bill who is the true father of British special forces. Having joined SOE in March 1940 Bill Stirling opened a school for irregular warfare in June, through which passed many of the men who would become renowned guerrilla fighters. He sailed for Cairo in 1941, working in GHQ, where he had the idea for a small special forces unit to be led by his mercurial younger brother.
2SAS also details how David allowed 1SAS to drift under his leadership but after his capture 2SAS reverted to the original raison d'être – parachuting behind enemy lines to attack their lines of communication and gather intelligence. Bill Stirling had a natural authority and gravitas that David lacked and he used this strength of character to ensure that the SAS continued to be deployed strategically and not tactically. But he could rub up against authority, which ultimately led to his dismissal as CO of 2SAS shortly before D-Day, but he had laid the foundations for 2SAS to thrive in the final year of the war.
Aided by brilliant officers all masters of guerrilla warfare, this fully illustrated history details how 2SAS fought with ingenuity and aggression, from Sicily, into Italy and then into France before heading east through Holland into Germany. 2SAS was a bold and innovative regiment, capable of attacking the enemy by parachute, jeep or landing craft establishing a template for future special forces operations.
During the war the joke within the SAS was that the initials stood for ‘Stirling and Stirling’, yet the feats of 2SAS have been overshadowed by the plethora of books that have focused on David and 1SAS. Gavin Mortimer's lavishly illustrated 2SAS history corrects this oversight, revealing that the real innovator was Bill Stirling – the true pioneer of Who Dares Wins.
Agincourt: Battle of the Scarred King
By Michael Livingston
Agincourt is one of the most famous battles in English history, a defining part of the national myth. This groundbreaking study by Mike Livingston, author of Never Greater Slaughter, presents a new interpretation of Henry V's great victory.
King Henry V’s victory over the French armies at Agincourt on 25 October 1415 is unquestionably one of the most famous battles in history. From Shakespeare’s ‘band of brothers’ speech to its appearances in numerous films, Agincourt rightfully has a place among a handful of conflicts whose names are immediately recognized around the world.
Many of the studies of the battle are variations on the same, well-worn English-focused rendition of Agincourt. The possibility that Henry V committed war crimes is generally swept under the rug as is the utter desperation of the position he’d found himself in after ignoring his senior military advisors. The French perspective is likewise given short shrift: the fact that their battle plan – which still survives today – was a wise one is set aside for a nationalistic and misleading tale of English glory. And again and again we’re presented with a battle taking place on the field between today’s villages of Azincourt and Tramecourt: exactly where the most recent research says the battle could not have happened. So where was Agincourt? What really happened there?
Agincourt provides the answers to these and other questions in a thrilling new history that not only rewrites the battle as we know it, but also provides fresh insights into the men who fought and died there – including a physically and mentally scarred Henry V who is far from the portrait that Shakespeare painted of him.
Afghan Air Wars
By Michael Napier
Mike Napier details the critical role of air power in the skies over Afghanistan, not only US and NATO over the last 20 years but also the ten-year occupation by the USSR in the 1980s.
US and British forces, strongly supported by air power, invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 in response to the Al Qaida attacks on 9/11. What began as a small-scale operation of 2,500 troops with the limited objective of destroying Al Qaida became ever larger, growing to over 100,000 troops ten years later. This experience matched that of the Soviets after their invasion in late 1979, when they saw a massive increase in resistance by Mujahidin.
Afghan Air Wars details how Soviet aircraft including the MiG-21, MiG-23, Su-17 and Su-25, as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters supported Soviet offensives in the Panjshir Valley and other regions. Despite these high-octane operations and overwhelming air superiority, Soviet forces eventually withdrew.
Some 20 years later, US and NATO air forces were deployed in similar roles. F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, A-10, Mirage, Harrier and Tornado aircraft all saw action in the skies over Afghanistan as did the CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters. Mike Napier fully details their series of operations in a hostile environment as well as the advent of high-resolution targeting pods and Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) which enabled aircraft to stand off from threat areas and also to deploy their weapons with deadly accuracy. The conflict also saw the ground-breaking introduction of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV) into routine air operations.
Afghan Air Wars is richly illustrated with over 240 images – both official photos and privately taken, in-theatre images which have not been previously published. It also includes first-hand accounts by aircrews involved to create a unique and comprehensive picture of the part played by air power over Afghanistan in the last 40 years.
To Besiege a City: Leningrad 1941-42
By Prit Buttar
A groundbreaking and enthralling history of one of the greatest ever sieges. Masterfully brought to life by a leading expert on the Eastern Front using original Russian source material.
The Siege of Leningrad resulted in more Soviet citizens – civilian and military combined – losing their lives than British Empire war dead from both world wars combined. At a huge cost, the Red Army and the civilian population of the city endured a bitter 900-day siege, struggling against bombing, shelling, and starvation. Their determination to hold out became a hugely significant part of Russian wartime history, and the echoes of the battle persist to this day: on VE day, cars throughout the city have ribbons attached to their radio aerials to commemorate the victory, and a large Soviet-era arch extends over the road from the airport to the city, bearing the inscription: ‘Welcome to St Petersburg, Hero City of Leningrad’.
Throughout the siege, Soviet forces tried to break the German lines and restore contact with the garrison. The first of these offensives began in January 1942 and was followed by repeated assaults. Although the Red Army suffered huge casualties in the swampy and forested terrain, the German infantry divisions were also steadily eroded, and by keeping control of parts of the shores of Lake Ladoga, the Soviet Union was able to sustain Leningrad through the winters of the siege via the ‘road of life’, constructed across the frozen lake.
After repeated setbacks, the Red Army managed to achieve a partial success by breaking the blockade in early 1943, but this was followed by further failed attempts to lift the siege completely. It was only when the Germans began preparations to pull back at the end of 1943 that the Red Army was able to prepare and then launch its decisive attack to break through to Leningrad and end the siege.
This brilliant new history of the battle for Leningrad will be the most comprehensive and up to date account of the history of the siege to date. Although a two-volume treatment, each book will be an entity in its own right and form an authoritative and exciting stand-alone and complete work.
Desert Armour: Tank Warfare in North Africa: Gazala to Tunisia, 1942–43
By Robert Forczyk
Robert Forczyk covers the development of armoured warfare in North Africa from Rommel's Gazala offensive in 1942 through to the end of war in the desert in Tunisia in 1943.
The war in the North African desert was pure mechanized warfare, and in many respects the most technologically advanced theatre of World War II. It was also the only theatre where for three years British and Commonwealth, and later US, troops were in constant contact with Axis forces.
World War II best-selling author Robert Forczyk explores the second half of the history of the campaign, from the Rommel’s Gazala offensive in May 1942 that drove the British forces all the way back to the Egyptian frontier and led to the fall of Tobruk, through the pivotal battles of El Alamein, and the final Allied victory in Tunisia. He examines the armoured forces, equipment, doctrine, training, logistics and operations employed by both Allied and Axis forces throughout the period, focusing especially on the brigade and regimental level of operations.
Fully illustrated throughout with photographs, profile artwork and maps, and featuring tactical-level vignettes and appendices analysing tank data, tank deliveries in-theatre and orders of battle, this book goes back to the sources to provide a new study of armoured warfare in the desert.
Battle for the Island Kingdom: Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Saxons and the struggle for England's Destiny
By Don Hollway
After almost a thousand years, English schoolchildren the length and breadth of the land can easily recall the date of the Battle of Hastings, which decided the future of England and half the modern world. But there our knowledge usually ends. But In fact, the six and half decades leading up to 1066 were defined by bloody wars, intrigues and sexual politics, in which three peoples vied for supremacy over the Island Kingdom. In this epic retelling of those critical years, master storyteller Don Hollway (The Last Viking, At the Gates of Rome) recounts the clash of Vikings, Anglo-Saxons and Normans, their warlords, their conniving queens, and their struggle for domination. It begins with the Viking Cnut the Great, forging three nations into his North Sea Empire while his Saxon wife Aelfgifu rules in his stead and schemes for England’s throne. Her archenemy is Emma of Normandy, widow of Aethelred, claiming Cnut’s realm in exchange for her hand in marriage. Their rival sons, the kings Harefoot, Harthacnut and Edward, pawns in their mothers’ wars until they can secure their destiny. And always in the shadows, Godwin of Wessex, playing all sides to become the most powerful man in England until his second-born son emerges as king of all of England. Meanwhile, Harold Godwinson’s own brother Tostig, turns traitor, abandons the Anglo-Saxons and joins the army of the last great Viking, Harold Hardrada where they meet their fate at the battle of Stamford Bridge. And watching from across the water, is the child William, the Bastard, fighting to secure his own Norman dukedom, but with an eye on the English crown.
In a saga reminiscent of Game of Thrones and The Last Kingdom, Battle for the Island Kingdom reveals their life-and-death struggle for power which changed the course of history.
Lockheed’s Blackbirds: The Missing Chapters
By Paul F. Crickmore
The SR-71 Blackbird is an iconic aircraft that has come to symbolize America's technological superiority during the Cold War. Using recently declassified information, globally renowned expert Paul Crickmore updates his definitive account of the aircraft.
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird ranks as one of the most elegant, sleek and powerful aeroplanes ever designed. But it was not built to be admired – it was built not to be seen at all. The high-altitude aerial reconnaissance sorties it was to perform were top secret and carefully concealed from public knowledge. However, as the aircraft have become museum pieces and details of their work declassified, the whole story of their design and operation can finally be told.
This updated edition of Paul Crickmore’s classic Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond the Secret Missions is based on 850 pages of documentation and images declassified by the CIA covering the A-12 Oxcart programme. These highly significant documents range from discussions at the highest levels of the US government concerning the rationale for Oxcart’s development and eventual deployment, to extremely detailed intelligence data gleaned from each of the 29 operational missions flown by Oxcart during Operation Black Shield.
The Blackbird family of aircraft continue to fascinate a wide age group and, since the aircraft will never fly again, its history has become timeless. This new edition will provide the last word on the SR-71 Blackbird and its operational history.