Railway Guns, British and German Guns at War

The author has provided a lively account of a much under-covered 
topic. The railway guns have played an important part in a number 
of wars. A great read.

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NAME: Railway Guns, British and German Guns at War
FILE: R2429
AUTHOR:  John Goodwin
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back 
PAGES:  122
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War 1, The Great War, First World War, World 
War One, WWII, Second World War World War 2, World War Two, artillery, 
railways, railroads, early railway guns, armoured trains
ISBN: 1-47385-411-3
IMAGE: B2429.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/grdcecp
LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale 
DESCRIPTION: The author has provided a lively account of a much 
under-covered topic. The railway guns have played an important part 
in a number of wars. A great read.

Considering the great popularity of books about trains and railways, 
it is surprising that very little has been published on the story of 
railway guns. Here is a book that puts that right.

Railways were used from early days to take guns to the firing 
positions. Before the start of WWI, roads in many countries were not 
truly all-weather roads. They provided adequate access for 
pedestrians, riders on horseback and the more robust wagons and 
horse-drawn  carriages. For armies, anything bigger than a field 
piece was limited to the better roads and was moved slowly with 
large teams of horses, or oxen. Very often, heavy artillery had to 
be moved as close to the desired firing position by boat as was 
practical and it was not unusual for armies to make do with smaller 
guns than were needed because of the problems of moving heavier weapons 
up to the line.

Railways offered a way of moving artillery with relative ease and it 
was natural to consider the use of trains not just to move heavy guns 
around, but to act as firing platforms. As a result, armoured trains 
were built and operated, particularly in locations such as Russia, 
America and Africa where long distances were covered by rail lines 
and the enemy would seek to destroy trains carrying supplies to troops. 
This type of military train continued in use to the 1950s, and then 
continued as a missile system through the Cold War.

The industrial revolution introduced the manufacturing potential to 
produce very much larger pieces of artillery. The move from muzzle-loading 
to breech-loading further increased the scope for building very large 
guns and to fire on targets beyond the visual horizon. Initially, large 
guns were built for battleships and for coastal defences, but the American 
Civil War saw large siege mortars and howitzers routinely carried by rail 
on special rolling stock that enabled them to be fired from the railway. 
In the period up to 1914, the British and the Germans began the design 
and construction of large railway guns that could be brought up to the 
firing point by rail, and then fired while mounted on the special rolling 
stock. These guns were often naval guns mounted on special rail cars.

The author has told the story from the early days and the text is 
strongly supported by a fine collection of photographs and maps. These 
illustrations also show how the larger guns were taken to a firing position 
by rail and then jacked up before firing, while other guns were very mobile 
and could be moved and fired without having to break down the system before 
firing. This flexible operation was particularly helpful to the British 
during the period of threat of a German invasion, where railway guns could 
be moved quickly to cover the points of landings, and also to move locations 
to avoid counter battery fire.