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.
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.