2024’s New Vanguard list offers ten eclectic books for armour and warship enthusiasts. The series turns its attention to tank combat in the Pacific, with two books on Iwo Jima and the Philippines, while European armour subjects include Beutepanzers, German Tanks in France 1940, and Soviet Tanks at Kursk. The naval side ranges from Alexander Hill’s look at Soviet cruisers to Mark Lardas’ focused examination of the cruisers that fought the Komandorski Islands battle, the last pure surface battle in history. And there’s my favourite this year, the irresistible South American ironclads of Warships in the War of the Pacific.
Please see below for full descriptions of all our upcoming titles.
Soviet Cruisers 1917–45: From the October Revolution to World War II
By Alexander Hill
Illustrated by Paul Wright
A history of the Soviet Navy's cruisers, from the opening shots of the October Revolution through to the combat they saw during World War II.
The Soviet Navy of World War II boasted a cruiser fleet that was among the most eclectic to see service. In this book, noted military historian and Soviet specialist Alexander Hill explains the role of cruisers in the Soviet Navy from the dramatic days of the October Revolution of 1917 through to the struggle they fought with Nazi Germany during World War II.
Illustrated throughout with rare photos and original artwork, including a cutaway of Aurora, famous for its role in the Bolshevik October Revolution, and with profiles of the key classes, this book outlines the Soviets' development of a cruiser force. Having inherited a number of cruisers from the Imperial Russian Navy, the new Soviet Navy went on to complete two unfinished Tsarist light cruisers during the 1920s. In the late 1930s, the Soviets built their first large warships, the Kirov class, and in 1940 Nazi Germany sold the unfinished heavy cruiser Lützow to the USSR. The final cruiser-sized warship to see action was the former Imperial royal yacht Shtandart, renamed Marti and armed as a minelayer, which was used in the defence of Leningrad.
Researched in the main from Russian-languages sources, this study explores the cruiser fleet that saw considerable action in World War II, particularly in support of the Red Army.
German Tanks in France 1940: Armor in the Wehrmacht's greatest Blitzkrieg victory
By Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrated by Felipe Rodríguez
A fully illustrated new assessment of the German tank force that won its greatest victory in France during 1940.
The German victory in France in the summer of 1940 was arguably the Wehrmacht’s greatest victory, conquering France in several weeks after having failed to do so in 1914–18. New Panzer tactics, dubbed Blitzkrieg, were at the heart of the German victory.
In this book, Steven J. Zaloga reassesses the armoured force at the heart of the victory, and explains that although the German Panzers won their reputation in France, they were far from being a technological juggernaut. The vast majority of German tanks were the small PzKpfw I and PzKpfw II light tanks. The more effective medium tanks such as the PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV were available in relatively small numbers. Their effectiveness had far more to do with training and doctrine than technology.
Illustrated with unpublished photos and superb new artwork, this book examines the wide range of German tanks employed in France in 1940, as well as their organization and tactical doctrine.
Warships in the War of the Pacific 1879–83: Chile, Peru and Bolivia's ironclads and their battles
By Angus Konstam
Illustrated by Paul Wright.
Superbly Illustrated with new artwork throughout, this book explores the ironclad warships that fought the little-known battles of South America's War of the Pacific
In the late 19th century, a war erupted between Chile and Peru, the catalyst for which was control of guano-rich Chincha islands. Given the geography of the two countries, with a narrow, arid land border and long exposed coastlines, it was inevitable that the War of the Pacific would predominantly be a naval war.
This was a fascinating little war, fought by two newly emergent South American states, using the latest technology – ironclad, steam-powered warships – and involving more naval battles than in the American Civil War. Chile's navy was larger and more modern, while Peru's trump card was the small but powerful ironclad Huascar.
In this book, Angus Konstam offers readers an essential guide to this little-known naval war, which saw a blockade, the capture of key warships, and bombardments of ports. He briefly covers the political background to the conflict and the strategies of the two powers, as well as all the key points of the naval campaign, and details of the warships involved.
Tanks on Iwo Jima 1945
By Romain Cansière
Illustrated by Felipe Rodríguez
An award-winning US Marine Corps armour historian's new account of the role of US and Japanese tanks on Iwo Jima, offering new information, unpublished photos, and detailed new artwork
The battle of Iwo Jima is iconic and known for its brutality: this was the only battle in which the number of US casualties outnumbered those of the Japanese. But as is often the case with the Pacific campaigns, the tank action on the island has generally been overshadowed by that of infantry. The tank, however, played an important role as a support weapon – especially on the US side – despite the difficult terrain and unconventional enemy tactics. This book highlights the role of the tank on Iwo Jima based on yet unpublished official records and veterans accounts.
This book offers new information on the battle in a complete, concise, and accessible format, shedding new light on Japanese and USMC armoured operations on the island, and its illustrations include unpublished photographs from private collections and meticulously researched new colour profiles, highlighting the tanks' modifications and their diverse camouflage and markings.
British Lend-Lease Warships of World War II: Destroyers and frigates
By Angus Konstam
Illustrated by Adam Tooby
An illustrated history of the American-built destroyers and frigates supplied to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, which played a crucial role in Britain's war in the Atlantic.
In March 1941, encouraged by President Roosevelt, the Lend-Lease Act was passed in the United States. At the time Britain was particularly hard-pressed, as U-boat attacks on Britain’s vital sea lanes were increasing in ferocity, and Royal Navy warship losses mounted. President Roosevelt instructed the US Navy to transfer a sizeable number of escort warships to Britain. These would be leased rather than sold, a deal sealed by the transfer of several global bases from Britain to America.
The first batch of Lend-Lease warships were 50 World War I-era 'four-stacker' destroyers, which were immediately recrewed, refitted and pressed into service in the Battle of the Atlantic. These ageing destroyers were followed by many other small Lend-Lease warships; 107 frigates, 22 corvettes and 37 minesweepers. Many of these were ships built especially for British service in American shipyards.
Angus Konstam explores the key role played by these Lend-Lease destroyers and escorts in the naval war, and shows how their arrival helped tip the balance in the hard-fought war against the U-boats, while others, like the famous HMS Campbeltown of the Saint-Nazaire raid, were used to fulfil other crucial wartime missions.
Midway-Class Aircraft Carriers 1945–92
By Mark Stille
The history of the US Navy's biggest aircraft carriers to be built during World War II, which found a second life as the backbone of the Cold War fleet.
Entering service in September 1945, the Midway-class aircraft carrier was the US Navy’s ultimate World War II-era design, and would be the largest and most capable American carriers as the Cold War dawned. These prestigious, nuclear-capable carriers operated in the Cold War frontlines of the Atlantic and Mediterranean early in their careers, and were big enough to accept significant modernizations over the next decades. Later in their careers, two of the ships saw combat in the Vietnam War. The last ship of the class, Midway, launched the first carrier airstrikes of the Gulf War in 1990–91, and did not finally leave service until 1992.
In this book Mark Stille explains how the Midway class was the US Navy’s attempt to build a much larger and much more survivable version of the wartime Essex-class. The Midway class was the first US Navy carrier to be designed with an armoured flight deck, and other parts of the ships were also better protected than the Essex class. The new class was designed with an expanded offensive capability, carrying up to 137 aircraft. Midway-class ships also featured a massive secondary and antiaircraft battery, and all three were later also fitted to carry Regulus surface to surface missiles. They ended their careers carrying Sea Sparrow SAMs and CIWS mounts.
The Midway class constituted the heart of the US Navy’s carrier fleet during the first 15 years of the Cold War until the Forrestal-class supercarriers came into service in the early 1960s. The importance of these ships in conducting presence missions in the European theatre early in the Cold War is highlighted. Two of the ships in the class enjoyed prolonged careers, which are also traced, and Midway is now a museum ship in San Diego, the only non-Essex-class American carrier to be preserved.
Beutepanzers of World War II: Captured tanks and AFVs in German service
By Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrated by Felipe Rodríguez
An illustrated history of Germany's extensive use of captured tanks in World War II.
In this book Steven J. Zaloga uncovers the history of one of the more obscure but intriguing aspects of Germany's World War II Panzers: the Wehrmacht's extensive use of war-booty armoured vehicles, ‘Beutepanzer’, during World War II. The first large haul of captured vehicles occurred in 1940 when a substantial number of French tanks and AFVs fell into German hands. Some, such as the Somua S 35 and Panhard 178, proved popular in German service. Others, such as the antique Renault FT from World War I, were used for secondary tasks such as anti-partisan missions and airfield protection. Most curious of all were the ‘Becker conversions’, a private venture of a German artillery officer with family industrial resources in Germany. Becker mechanized his unit’s towed artillery and went on to oversee the modernization of many French Beutepanzers with more powerful guns. These would play a particularly important role in Normandy in 1944.
Although the Wehrmacht captured large numbers of Soviet tanks in 1941–43, these saw very limited service in German hands. Most were sent to the smelters back in Germany due to their poor mechanical condition. Soviet tanks and AFVs were used by the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS, but on a relatively small scale compared to their numbers.
When Italy switched sides in September 1943, the Italian AFV industry continued producing tanks and AFVs for the Wehrmacht. Several hundred of these served in the Italian campaign in 1943–45, as well as in the Balkans on anti-partisan duties.
The Germans did capture tanks and AFVs from other Allied armies including Britain and the United States. However, these were on a small scale, and usually used in an improvised fashion.
Warships in the Komandorski Islands 1943: The USN and IJN fight the last pure surface battle
By Mark Lardas
With detailed new profiles of the ships and spectacular original battle scenes, this explores the warships that fought World War II's last pure surface battle, the battle itself, and why the outnumbered US Navy prevailed.
The Battle of the Komandorski Islands was unique among World War II naval battles. It was the last daytime naval surface battle of World War II where aircraft played no role. With the exception of the one-sided Action off Samar, it was the last daytime surface action of World War II. It saw a squadron of US Navy cruisers and destroyers intercept a Japanese convoy attempting to reinforce the garrisons of Attu and Kiska.
In this book Mark Lardas explains that due to an intelligence failure, the Japanese escort was twice the size expected, with the US outnumbered 2:1 in heavy and light cruisers. Although both sides had the same number of destroyers (four each) the Japanese destroyers were newer and more powerful than their US counterparts. While the Japanese cruisers were among the newest of their classes in their navy, their US counterparts belonged to the oldest heavy and light cruiser classes in the US Navy’s inventory.
A 12-hour brawl of a surface action took place. Despite being badly outnumbered and badly outgunned, the US Navy ships emerged victorious when the battle ended. Victory was achieved despite the largest US ship being dead in the water at one point during the battle. This book will examine the ships participating, describe the battle fought and examine how the US victory was achieved, particularly the importance of superior damage control.
Tanks in the Philippines 1941–45: The biggest armored clashes of the Pacific War
By Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrated by Felipe Rodríguez
The first book to examine the Japanese and American tank forces in the Philippines campaigns, which saw the biggest tank battles of the Pacific War.
The Philippines saw the most extensive tank combat of any single theatre in the Pacific war. In this book, Steven Zaloga explains the capabilities of tank forces involved and how they fought.
The initial Japanese invasion in December 1941 saw the commitment of several tank regiments. In addition, it was the first US combat use of tanks in World War II with the use of two National Guard tank battalions. Fighting resumed in the Philippines in the autumn of 1944 when the US Army set about liberating the islands. The first contact on Leyte were relatively small scale. However, the fighting for Luzon, including the capital city of Manila, saw massive use of tanks by Pacific standards. Luzon was the only location where a Japanese armoured division saw combat use. In addition, the US Army eventually committed about 20 tank and tank destroyer battalions to the Philippines campaign. There was some tank-vs.-tank combat in norther Luzon when the Japanese 2nd Tank Division faced separate US Army tank battalions. However, most tank fighting in the Philippines involved the use of tanks in the traditional infantry support role. This included the largest urban battle of the Pacific war, the horrific struggle for Manila.
Soviet Tanks at Kursk 1943
By William E. Hiestand
Illustrated throughout, this book explains the composition and qualities of the Soviet tank force that fought Germany’s mighty Panzers at the biggest tank battle in history
In the summer of 1943, Hitler’s forces had rebuilt their Panzer force after defeat at Stalingrad and retreat from the Caucasus. New types, including the Panther, Tiger, and Elefant had joined the force to add technical superiority over the T-34s to the traditional tactical edge enjoyed by the Panzer divisions. The plan was to begin offensive operations by striking from the north and south to cut off Soviet forces in the Kursk salient.
Soviet forces, forewarned, blunted the armour-led German attack with deep fortifications laced with minefields, massed anti-tank guns, and dug in tanks. Soon, however, the Panzers began to break through the fortified lines, and the Soviet front commanders began to release their armored reserves. What has been widely viewed as the climactic clash of tanks on the Eastern Front was about to begin.
In this book, William Hiestand explores the Soviet armored forces that met this Panzer force, in the biggest tank battle of World War II. The Red Army had benefited from the prodigious production capabilities of the USSR but their tanks at Kursk varied widely. The famous T-34s had outclassed their German opponents early in the war, but now faced improved Panzer IVs with long 75mm guns as well as Panthers and Tigers. Still short of tanks, the Soviets also still operated weak T-60 and T-70 light tanks in their armored brigades, along with the increasingly obsolescent KV-1 heavy tank. Significant numbers of Lend-Lease tanks also fought, including M3 Lees, Valentines, Stuarts, Churchills, and the first Shermans to join the Red Army. The Soviets also benefited from the firepower of the first generation of Soviet self-propelled guns – the SU-76, SU-122, and SU-152.