Zeppelin vs British Home Defence 1915-1918

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Jon Guttman (Illustrated by Jim Laurier
Other Publication Information
Softbound, 7.25 x 9.75 inches, 80 pages
Product / Stock #
85 in the “Duel” series
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Book cover

If you are a person interested in the Great War, you will likely enjoy this new release from Osprey as part of their “Duel” series of books. In this new offering from Osprey Publishing, author Jon Guttman writes about the attacks of the German Zeppelins on England from January 1915 through August 1918 as well as the British defensive actions against them. Illustrated by Jim Laurier, both the artwork and the photographs tell the history of the Zeppelin and the aircraft used to counter them.

Following the Introduction, there are eight chapters, which are titled “Chronology”, “Design and Development”, “Technical Specifications”, “the Strategic Situation”, “The Combatants”, “Combat”, “Statistics and Analysis”, and “Aftermath”. There is also a “Further Reading” list of books and an “Index”. There are 45 black and white photographs along with three in color, as well as 13 illustrations/paintings, and a single color map contained within this publication.

The book begins with the development of the lighter-than-air ship from Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries crossing the English Channel in a hot air balloon in 1785, the development of hydrogen-filled airships that followed in France, and the German zeppelin L.Z.1 that launched in July of 1900. With the development of heavier-than-air craft in 1903, the two would soon see rapid advancements, and would be in battle with one another. The first attack credited to a German zeppelin was on the city of Liege, Belgium by Z.VI on August 6, 1914.

The development of the zeppelins discusses the creation of Duralumin used for the frame and that the amount of goldbeater’s skin (I will let you read up on that one for yourself) which required between 50,000 and 80,000 head of cattle. Going from the “P” class to the “R” class, the length of the airship grew from 536 feet 5 inches to 649 feet 11inches requiring the gas capacity to increase from 1,642,400 cubic feet to 1,949,600 cubic feet, and the service ceiling rose from 11,700 feet to 17,700 feet.

The most common weapons used to counter the zeppelin threat were searchlights along with anti-aircraft guns. With the development of British aircraft, planes like the BE 2c night fighter were put in action with their first victory being over L.15 on 31 March 1916 near Brentwood, England. Although weapons such as the Ranken Dart and French Le Prieur rockets were employed against the zeppelins, the Lewis gun using incendiary rounds was found to be the most successful deterrent.

Discussion of the various aircraft used throughout the war by the British as well as advances made by the Germans with the zeppelins are present, including information concerning some of the notable pilots and zeppelin commanders. A table lists the British aviators credited with downing zeppelins and another lists the leading airship commanders from Germany.

As with other Osprey books in my collection, this latest offering is well written, and the author, Jon Guttman, has now written 18 books for this publisher. In addition, Jim Laurier has been an illustrator for Osprey since 2000 in addition to his works for others. I found the photographs to be very interesting, and the drawings showing some gondola and cockpit interiors gives a great perspective from the point of view of the crewmembers.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any modeler wanting reference to the zeppelins of WWI and the aircraft that flew against them. As mentioned previously, the art and photography are very good, and again, the book is well written and informative. I would like to thank the folks at Osprey Publishing for providing this book to the IPMS-USA for review, and I appreciated having the opportunity to write this appraisal. As always, thanks to you the reader for taking the time to read my comments.


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