Railway guns are in simple terms huge guns on trains. First conceived and fabricated during the American Civil War in 1862 by Confederate forces, railway guns came into being to rapidly bring large artillery where needed. Traditional methods of dismounting a large gun tube and moving them by horse drawn train was time consuming and manpower intensive. European observers sent to scrutinize took notice of many of the advances made during the Civil War, and improved upon what they saw. Fast forward to World War I and railway guns were again deployed. Most of the combatants deployed railway guns of varying size and with varying results. This book is a basic course on these WWI era weapons.
Printed in typical Osprey manner, this paperback book is printed on high quality paper and contains 48 pages of text and pictures. The text is well written and concise in getting the point across. The pictures aid in telling the story, and offer excellent reference for modelers. The illustrations used are first class, and are works of art in themselves. Rendered in color they provide a great basis for color and markings of the individual guns. A notice in the front of the book relates that all are available for separate purchase.
Chapter titles include before the war, design and development, operational history, employment and tactics, concluding with the legacy of rail guns. A bibliography and index complete the book. The cover photo of a railway gun firing is dramatic and illustrates the power these guns were known for. It’s easy to understand why civilian populations cringed when these guns were brought to bear on areas they may have been inhabiting.
All is all, this is a very nice book on a subject a little off the mainline. Railway guns are a good crossover subject for train enthusiasts and armor modelers and this book should find its way into many a library!!! I like the way the text is chronologically laid out, and the way it describes the developments made by the individual nations in the manufacture and deployment of these guns. I highly recommend this book to both train and armor modelers, as well as others who have an interest in World War I or are just looking for an interesting subject to explore.
My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for providing this sample for review.