Few artillery pieces in the world have served with such distinction as the 25 Pounder. From the withdrawal from Dunkirk in 1940, to its last battle in Oman in 1972, this field-gun truly became a distinguished member of the 'greats' of modern artillery. Perhaps it's greatest role was at El Alamein although it saw wide service in the Far-East, Italy and of course in Northwest Europe.Not only was it mounted on its conventional carriage it was also adapted for use in Self-Propelled Artillery - firstly on the Bishop and later on the Sexton.
Content: The 25-pounder Field Gun 1939-72
Numbered as 48 in Osprey's New Vanguard Series
, the book takes a similar approach to the others in the series, 48 pages, plentiful illustrations (including several color plates) the book is written by Chris Henry
with illustrations by Mike Fuller
. The book is broken into several distinct sections wich are generally self-explanatory:
Tools and Stores
Organisation (the Detachment)
Field Artillery Tractors
The 25-Pounder in other armies
Color Plae commentary
Practicalities - value and application...
Despite its huge contribution to the Allied victories of WWII, the 25-pounder is not particularly well-represented in model form. In 1/35th scale, the only (plastic) kit, remains Tamiya's
kit, the Bishop is available from various manufacturers (same kit, different boxes and prices) whereas the Sexton is sadly unrepresented by a modern kit. The problem of building an accurate representation, is always in the detail. While this book does not come into the category of a 'walk-round', it does cover some crucial details in both text and photos.
The useful section on ammunition covers some important areas particularly the 'color-coding' of the shells.
Some highly useful drawings of the breech mechanism are included alng with close-ups of details such as the complex ranging mechanism. Barely one page is given over to the Field Artillery Tractors - understandable as this is a subject which requires several (separate) volumes. The section on the gun limbers could do with more illustration and detail, although in fairness, some contemporary photos show useful detail. The operational history, although a limited part of the book, gives yet another insight in the widespread use of the gun. The section on variants, is yet another of those 'teasers'. Personally I would like to see more on the Australian Light-Carriage version which had a fascinating operational history. One of those conversions just waiting to happen! One of the final sections covers briefly the SPG versions of the 25-pounder. Once again, a subject that requires a comprehensive book on the subject.
conclusions - a good addition to the bookcase?
Without a doubt this book is an excellent source of information. I would temper this somewhat by saying that due to the limitations of the series, there is not the space to produce the kind of technical photos that modellers require. However, no book of this size would pretend to be anything more than a brief guide to the gun and its operational deployment. Perhaps, it is more a book for the workbench than the bookcase - one of the great aspects of the Vanguard/New Vanguard
series. The color illustrations are also very useful being extremely well executed. I have also noticed, that with the more recent releases, Osprey
has 'cleaned up' many of the contemporary images although several are frustratingly small.
I have always had an affinity for the 25-pounder. As child, I can remember being taken to Edinburgh Castle and, from there, they fired a signal gun at exactly One o'clock in the afternoon. That gun (until recently) was a 25-pounder... Ahhh..Nostalgia!
PO Box 140
Northants, NN8 2FA
(01933) 443 863
Thank you to Osprey Publishing for kindly supplying the review sample.
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