Superguns 1854-1991: Extreme Artillery From the Paris Gun and the V-3 to Iraq's Project Babylon

Published: February 1st, 2019     
Product Image
Book Cover
Author: Steven J. Zaloga; Illustrator: Jim Laurier
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-2610-7
E-Book ISBN #: 9781472826114
Other Publication Information: 7.25” x 9.75”, 48 pages
Price: $18.00
Product / Stock #: NV 265

Steven J. Zaloga was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to John and Muriel Zaloga on February 1, 1952. Steven earned his undergraduate degree cum laude in history at Union College and his Masters' degree in history from Columbia University. He obtained a Certificate in International Affairs from the graduate program of the University of Cracow. He has worked in the aerospace industry for some twenty years as an analyst specializing in missiles, precision-guided munitions, and unarmed aerial vehicles. Steven has served with a federal think tank, Defense Analyses. He was the writer-director for The Discovery Channel's "Firepower" series from 1987 to 1992. He has authored many books on military technology, especially in armored warfare. Steven is a noted scale armor modeler and is a member of AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society).

Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil. He graduated with honors from Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78. Throughout his life, Jim has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000 and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books. Jim Laurier prefers working in oils on canvas and has specialized in Vietnam War-era aircraft. He currently lives in New Hampshire. You can find his artwork at https://www.aviationarthangar.com/jimlaurier.html . Check him out!

Osprey's 265th book in the New Vanguard series is a square back soft cover including 48 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color painting of the Wilhelm-Geschutz 21/35cm Paris Gun by Jim Laurier (a larger two-page version is included inside). I counted 24 black and white pictures, 18 color photographs, 10 color illustrations, 3 color paintings, 7 black and white drawings, and three tables. Jim Laurier contributes three battle-scene color paintings, including one as a 2-page spread.

Steven J. Zaloga kicks off the introduction with a background on 'extreme' artillery going back to the Crimean War of 1853 to 1856. Steven focuses on four separate eras: World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the "New World Disorder" and then selects a representative Supergun from each era to address. This approach permits a bit more detail for each example rather than an exhaustive review of every Supergun. If you are looking for the "Dora" railway gun, you will need to check out an earlier edition of New Vanguard: Volume 231 "Railway Guns of World War II". You can see by the content listing below, that WWI is represented by the Wilhelm-Geschutz 21/35cm Gun designed to rain down shells on the city of Paris from the relative safety of the German trenches. The V-3 Hochdruckpumpe (HDP) represents World War II. The Cold War is addressed with the M65 Gun "Atomic Annie" firing a 15 kiloton atomic projectile. Last, but not least, is Iraq's Project Babylon, along with its predecessor, Gerald Bull's HARP (High Altitude Research Program) gun. The contents include:

  • Author's Note
  • Introduction
    • Prelude to Modern Artillery
    • Ammunition of the Super Guns [Table, Illustration] {Page 7}
  • Wilhelm-Geschutz: The Paris Gun
    • Wilhelm-Geschutz 21/35cm Paris Gun [Table, 2-page Painting]
    • Wilhelm-Geschutz versus Paris Gun
  • The V-3 London Gun {Page 19, 27}
    • Hochdruckpumpe Tausenfubler, Mimoyecques, France, 1944 [Cutaway]
    • Langrohrkanone 15 F 58 Fleissiges Lieschen, 1.Batterie, Artillerie-Regiment.705, Lampaden, Germany, January 1945 [Painting]
  • The Biggest Boom
    • M65 Gun, Heavy, Motorized, 280mm "Atomic Annie"
  • Project Babylon Supergun
    • 420mm S-103 Recoilless Rifle [Color Profile]
    • 406mm 2A3 Kondensator 2P Self-Propelled Gun
    • Project Babylon System 350 L/150 Gun, Jabal Hamrayn, Iraq, 1990 {Page 43}
  • The Future of Superguns
  • Further Reading
    • Government Reports
    • Articles
    • Books
  • Index

I really appreciated the structure that Steven J. Zaloga utilized, as all four programs were quite interesting. I had a basic awareness of the programs, but Steven's analysis really brought them to life. I've already started doing some additional reading on the Hochdruckpumpe (HDP) Supergun and I will be reviewing Gerald Bull's Project Babylon more since he was killed during its implementation. The sheer size of both the HDP and Project Babylon is amazing, especially since their lack of mobility. Of course, this was an issue with many of the Superguns. Their sheer size alone made them a juicy target.

Steven J. Zaloga provides a very readable text with plenty of photographs that is supplemented illustrations from Jim Laurier. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

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