Book Review: Artillery Of The Warsaw Pact

Artillery Of The Warsaw Pact, by Russell Phillips

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As yet another volume in the author’s extensive collection of books about the militaries of the Cold War [1], this book presents a familiar picture to those who read this book.  The author, as usual, demonstrates a firm grasp of the technical specifications of obscure Warsaw Pact equipment, and manages to provide some droll observations of the influence of Soviet political leadership on which weapons were developed and what the West thought and how it was that the West found out about various weapons and how treaty negotiations strongly influenced the way that weapons were used and developed or scrapped.  In one memorable example, the author discusses a particular type of weapon that was captured by the Germans and copied during World War II, which is evidence of the worth of some of these weapons even to enemies.  At other times, as in the discussion of the inaccuracy of the Scud missile, the author’s dry understatement allows those who know about how these weapons were used (for example, in the First Gulf War) to have a bit of a laugh at the expense of Saddam Hussein’s government, and that is always something worth having.

This book, in less than 150 pages, manages to give a detailed look at the artillery of the Warsaw Pact, which is exactly what it sets out to do.  Some explanatory matters of how to understand the history of the time and the specifications of the equipment are included in the introduction and in the chapter on artillery vehicles that immediately follows.  After this comes an examination of various trucks (the author, following British English conventions, calls them lorries) that were used as tow vehicles.  After that comes a chapter on towed guns and howitzers that discusses their tactical flexibility.  After this there is a discussion of self-propelled guns, howitzers, and mortars that comments how this type of weapon was developed by the Soviets and their allies in the aftermath of Kruschev’s removal from power, as he was more fond of missiles and rockets, a reminder that there are always trade-offs when it comes to weapons development.  A discussion of mortars and their popularity follows.  There is a brief discussion of recoilless guns, which were made obsolete with the development of anti-tank guided missiles, as well as a discussion of the trade-offs of various uses of multiple rocket launchers as well as a discussion about the development of tactical ballistic missiles, after which the book closes with a glossary.

A reader of this book gets exactly what one would expect with a knowledge of the author’s writing in this genre.  The author shows a great interest in the development of equipment and in its use and in the politics that inform how such equipment is understood as well as the decisions made on what equipment is delivered and which is consigned to the scrap heap.  As someone who happens to be interested in these same matters, I enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed other books that the author has written and likely other books that he will write in the future.  If this book does happen to be the first book one reads of his, it will set proper expectations for one’s future appreciation of his body of work, as equipment is a major research interest of the author.  The book includes many photos and drawings and specifications, and some of the truck photos remind me of the trucks I have seen gathering dust in my own family’s farm, which made the book somehow more relatable to me even than the author’s usual.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Military History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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