Red Army Weapons of the Second World War

Published on
Published on
Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Michael Green
Other Publication Information
Paperback (9.6”x 6.7”), 264 pages with over 200 black and white photographs.
Company: Pen & Sword - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Red Army Weapons of the Second World War is a very well researched and written book that does a deep dive into the history of the Russian military’s ground forces weapons. This book is a departure from the usual Images of War format. Rather than a brief summary of the chapter to come with a dizzying number of great photographs, each of this book’s chapters opens with history, weapon type, development, etc, then follows with black and white photographs that are worth the price of the book alone.

In the forward, US Army Tank-Automotive Command Historian (Retired) Randy Talbot writes,

“During the First World War in an oft-told story, Russian infantrymen were on the line when an aeroplane flew overhead. They quickly fired upon the plane, shooting it down. There was no way it could be a Russian plane because the Russians were not smart enough to build something so complicated.”

He continues with the essence of this book,

“Red Army Weapons of the Second World War begins with the first tanks acquired by the Red Army – those captured from the ‘White’ forces during their civil war, mostly First World War-era British tanks – and ends with the employment of the T-34/85 during the Second World War. During this time period, the Soviet Union underwent fundamental changes throughout all strata of the country. This would affect the Red Army, and production facilities were also not immune.”

The book is presented logically, complete with photographs, composing the following seven chapters:

  1. Infantry Weapons
  2. Light Tanks
  3. Medium Tanks
  4. Heavy Tanks
  5. Artillery
  6. Miscellaneous Armoured Fighting Vehicles
  7. Imported Weapons

Author Michael Green has done an amazing job weaving the intricacies of weapon development, political resistance, methods of employment, and improvements as Soviet experience grew in leaps and bounds as the war progressed. His research is obvious and is showcased in his example of anti-tank rifles. He cites the November 1942 American military publication Intelligence Bulletin, that was translated from a Red Army source, on the seven directions Soviet anti-tank riflemen were trained to destroy German tanks. The directions are simple, as they had to be, yet effective. As a former American Soldier, I can see these examples carrying forward to today’s weapon systems.

One of the many strengths of this book is that a vast majority of the Red Army’s weapons are highlighted, or at least mentioned, with their place in World War II. This is a great one-stop book to learn quite a lot. If the reader wants more information on a certain weapon system, at least they will know what to look for during further research. The photos tie in nicely with the descriptions earlier in the chapter. A nice touch is that modern photos are printed in black and white and add to the continuity of the book.

While Russian weapons were crude in comparison to Western European and US standards, they were effective and served their army well. British tanks, while appreciated for their armored protection, especially the Matildas and Churchills, they did not hold up well with their armored suspension systems becoming clogged from snow, ice and mud found in abundance on their battlefields.

As usual, a strength of Pen & Sword books are the photographs. There are inspirations and ideas aplenty throughout this book for models, vignettes and dioramas. For figure painters, there are a lot of close-up shots of soldiers, their gear and weapons. This is as inspirational photographic book with the added bonus of being very easy to read throughout. Author Michael Green is to be complimented on his ability to take very complex histories, foreign terms, and photographs, and place them into a very interesting book. The book fills in a lot of gaps between the widely accepted myths and facts of the Red Army learning as they went along from defeat to ultimate victory.

Profuse thanks to Casemate and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.


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