We're approaching the end of 2022's Big Reveal. On the blog today Commissioning Editors Nikolai Bogdanovic and Tony Holmes introduce us to next year's Duel titles!


Military Duel Titles

The Military Duel offerings for 2023 provide a trio of fascinating topics for readers.

 First up is Neil Short’s eagerly anticipated British Coastal Weapons vs German Coastal Weapons: The Dover Strait 1940–44. Neil examines the wide range of British and German weapons installed on either side of the Channel that were used to shell the enemy's military and civilian targets, and to harry ships using the busy sea lanes. The packed book explores the fixed-gun positions and railway artillery employed, the use of observation and radar positions to identify targets, the crews who manned the guns and their supporting positions, and the effect of these weapons on the civilians suffering their deadly fire.

Next up is Mark Lardas’ US Destroyers vs German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45: The Atlantic 1941–45. This work explores the key role the US Navy played in defeating Hitler’s U-boats. Several fascinating clashes between U-boats and the Allied warships escorting the convoys provide the focus of this detailed work, including USS Kearny vs. U-568, USS Roper (DD-147) vs U-85, USS Eugene E. Elmore (DE-686) vs U-549, and USS Atherton (DE-169) vs U-853.

 Finally, Steven J. Zaloga’s Allied Warships vs the Atlantic Wall: Normandy 1944 explores the Allied warship actions against German coastal gun batteries on the Atlantic Wall/Südwall. Among the duels featured are the Allied gun duels on D-Day 1944 (including the USS Texas and Pointe du Hoc), the bombardment of Cherbourg in June 1944, the duels off Marseilles/Toulon in August 1944, and HMS Warspite against the German batteries around Brest in September 1944.

You can find full descriptions of the titles below.


DUE 125: British Coastal Weapons vs German Coastal Weapons: The Dover Strait 1940–44

By Neil Short

For the first time ever, compare the British and German World War II big guns duelling with each other and harrying shipping in the Channel.

One of the longest-running battles of World War II took place across the English Channel, in which huge artillery guns attempted to destroy each other, created psychological terror among the local inhabitants on the opposing shores of the Dover Strait, and harassed shipping of both sides over a four-year period.

For the first time, this work provides a comparative examination of the array of powerful weapons located on both sides of the Channel. The layout and armament of the fixed gun batteries are explored in stunning artworks, and significant attention is also given to British and German railway artillery (including the German K-12 gun, and the British 'Boche Buster') and the bunkers used to protect them from enemy attack.

Construction, targeting technology, counter-battery fire and the tactics each side used to try to silence the deadly weapons of the other are also covered in full detail, and the locations of all the major sites around Dover and Calais are shown on easy to follow maps.


DUE 127: US Destroyers vs German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45: The Atlantic 1941–45

By Mark Lardas

An absorbing study of the duels fought between the US Navy’s escort warships and Hitler’s U-boats between December 1941 and May 1945.

Although the Battle of the Atlantic lasted several years, its most critical phase began once the United States entered World War II. By December 1941, the British had mastered the U-boat threat in the Eastern Atlantic, only to see the front abruptly expand to regions the US Navy would patrol, chiefly the Atlantic Seaboard. Unless the US Navy overcame the U-boat threat, the Allies would struggle to win.

The Battle of the Atlantic was made up of thousands of individual duels: aircraft against U-boats, aircraft against aircraft, aircraft against ships—but most crucially, ships against U-boats. The individual clashes between Germany’s U-boats and the Allied warships escorting the vital convoys often comprised one-on-one actions. These stories provide the focus of this detailed work. The technical details of the U-boats, destroyers, and destroyer escorts involved are explored in stunning illustrations, including ship and submarine profiles and weaponry artworks, and key clashes are brought to life in dramatic battlescenes. Among the clashes covered are including USS Kearny vs. U-568, USS Roper (DD-147) vs U-85, USS Eugene E. Elmore (DE-686) vs U-549, and USS Atherton (DE-169) vs U-853.


DUE 128: Allied Warships vs the Atlantic Wall: Normandy 1944

By Steven J. Zaloga 

Amphibious landings played a prominent role in Allied operations in the Mediterranean and European theatres in World War II. One of the most effective means to deter and defeat them was through the use of coastal artillery (as witnessed in the disastrous raid on Dieppe in 1942). The growing threat of an Allied invasion of France led the Germans to construct the most elaborate fortifications of the 20th century, the Atlantic Wall, which incorporated coastal artillery as the basis of its strongpoints. Given the high level of uncertainty over where the Allies would land in 1944, the Germans were obliged to deploy large numbers of coastal artillery batteries along the coast of France and the Low Countries, with the heaviest concentrations in the Pas-de-Calais. This fascinating and novel work describes the duel that played out during Operation Neptune/Overlord as the Allies responded to the threat posed by the Atlantic Wall and its modern, steel-reinforced casemates. This was mainly tactical, not technological: the warships used in the D-Day landings were, in fact, fairly old, and the German gun casemates were largely impervious to naval gunfire, barring a rare direct hit. Among the duels covered are those involving the batteries of HKAA.1261 north of Utah Beach, the naval battery at Longues-sur-Mer between Omaha and Gold beaches, the sinking of USS Corry, and the subsequent Royal Navy and US Navy bombardment of Cherbourg.


 Aviation Duel Titles

Duel has been one of Osprey’s bestselling series since its debut back in 2006, with each volume usually pitching two aircraft types against each other. However, we have regularly covered aircraft versus ground-to-air weaponry or ships too, and three of the books planned for next year feature such content. Each Duel volume typically includes more than 50 photographs, specially commissioned three-view, armament and cockpit artworks, a battlescene spread, maps and tactical diagrams.  

 There are four titles in the programme for 2023, and they cover a wide spectrum of aerial warfare. Their content covers traditional fighter ‘fare’, with P-38 Lightnings duelling with Bf 109s over North Africa and the Mediterranean, largescale clashes between Ju 87s and T-34s on the Eastern Front, and Sunderlands and U-boats trading blows in the Battle of the Atlantic. Finally, in a proper ‘heavyweight bout’ in every sense of the word, Japanese ‘Mavis’ and ‘Emily’ flying boats slug it out with US Navy PB4Y Liberators and Privateers over the vast Pacific Ocean.

Please read below for the full descriptions and let us know what you think of the Big Reveal in the comments!


DUE 126: H6K “Mavis”/H8K “Emily” vs PB4Y-1/2 Liberator/Privateer

By Edward M. Young

An illustrated exploration of the dramatic aerial combats between the US Navy's long-range bomber and Japanese flying boats in the Pacific War.

Edward Young explores these rarely written about combats, examining the aggressive and strategic tactics deployed by both US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force and analyzing the technical improvements installed throughout the war.

The PB4Y-1/2 Liberator/Privateer was the US Navy’s first four-engined, land-based bomber, adapted and allocated to fight the U-boat menace in the Atlantic and protect the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean. The long range, speed, armament and bomb load of the PB4Y-1 enabled the US Navy’s Pacific squadrons to adopt more aggressive tactics. The PB4Y-1, and its follow-on PB4Y-2, engaged in dangerous bombing missions against Japanese installations, shipping strikes, and air combat.

On the other side, with its doctrine of making the first strike against an enemy fleet, the Imperial Japanese Navy recognized the vital importance of maritime reconnaissance, relying on carrier-based reconnaissance aircraft, ship-borne floatplanes and, for long-range maritime patrol, flying boats. The Japanese would continue to develop their aircraft throughout the war, resulting, among others, in the H6K ‘Mavis’ and the H8K2 ‘Emily’, which despite never achieving a victory, was regarded by the Allied pilots as the most difficult Japanese aircraft to destroy.

Enriched with specially commissioned artwork, including armament and cockpit views, battlescenes and technical diagrams, this title analyses technical specifications in detail. By including first-hand accounts, aviation expert Edward Young provides a detailed account of these one-sided yet dramatic and aggressive combats.


Junkers Ju 87G versus T-34

By Robert Forsyth

An examination of two of the most high-profile air and land weapons to be deployed on the Eastern Front in World War II, including in the battles in the Bryansk sector in early 1943, the Battle of Kursk in July 1943, the defensive campaigns in the Crimea in 1943–44.

In late 1942, as part of its attempts to strike back at ever-increasing numbers of Soviet tanks, the German air ministry authorised the development of an adaptation and enhancement of the longspan Junkers Ju 87D-5 Stuka dive-bomber. The aircraft was duly fitted with two underwing pods containing 37 mm BK cannon – an antiaircraft cannon with its origins dating back to 1933.The solid, slow, Ju 87 airframe offered the Luftwaffe an ideal platform for specialist, low level, ‘tankkilling’ operations.

Despite the wealth of experience possessed by some of the Luftwaffe’s ground-attack and dive-bombers aces, knocking out T-34 tanks from the air was a demanding and difficult process. Nevertheless, some Luftwaffe pilots notched up impressive tank scores,and the Ju 87 is credited with the destruction of more than 100 tanks across the central and. southern sectors of the Eastern Front, including during the Battle of Kursk.

Including personal accounts from Stuka pilots and biographies of the anti-tank aces, together with detailed photographs of the cannon installation into the Ju 87G and details of the construction of the T-34, this book covers the epic clash of two legendary machines of World War II.


Sunderland vs U-boat

By Mark Lardas

This book examines the role played by the Sunderland as an antisubmarine aircraft during the Battle of the Atlantic, focusing on the key battles in the Bay of Biscay during the critical year of 1943.

The Sunderland was one of the RAF’s most iconic combat aircraft of World War II, with a silhouette closer to a bumblebee than a raptor. Equally iconic for Germany was the U-boat – the ‘steel sharks’ whose natural prey was Allied merchantmen. Yet as deadly as the U-boat was to merchantmen and warships alike, the vessel had a weak spot: it was vulnerable to air attack. This book examines the typically one-to-one classic duels between two maritime predators – the U-boat and the Sunderland. It was an uneven fight, for the Sunderland had several advantages over a U-boatincluding radars to detect U-boats while remaining unseen, and the ability to choose the time of attack to best advantage. Yet the battle was not totally unequal. Many Sunderlands were lost attacking U-boats.

This title is profusely illustrated with specially commissioned artwork, including a three-view of a Sunderland, two-view of a Type IXB U-boat, four armament views detailing the weaponry employed by both protagonists, stunning cover and battlescene artwork tactical diagrams and maps. These perfectly compliment the authoritative text by veteran Osprey author, Mark Lardas, which includes numerous first-hand accounts.


P-38 Lightning vs Bf 109

By  Edward M. Young

Highly respected aviation historian and Osprey veteran author Edward M. ‘Ted’ Young details the often painful baptism of fire experienced by USAAF fighter pilots in the technically advanced but mechanically fragile P-38 Lightning when they were thrown into action in North Africa in the wake of Operation Torch in November 1943. Their opponents were battle-hardened jagdflieger of the Jadgwaffe, flying the tried and tested Bf 109 in its very lastest Gustav iteration.

The P-38 Lightning was designed as a high-altitude interceptor using a unique twin-boom configuration to harness the power of two Allison V-1710 inline liquid-cooled engines with turbo-superchargers and was, for the time, powerfully armed with four 0.50-cal. machine guns and a single 20 mm cannon in the central nacelle. Although intended for use against bombers, when America went to war the P-38 was the USAAF’s most capable fighter aircraft. The Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942 pitted the P-38 against the Luftwaffe’s Bf 109 fighter. When the Lightning went into combat, it was not known how well the aircraft and its pilots would fare against agile fighters like the Bf 109 flown by pilots with greater experience in air combat.

Responsible primarily for escorting USAAF bombers attacking Afrika Korps installations in Tunisia, the P-38 units in North Africa had to develop effective tactics to defend the bombers against Luftwaffe fighter attacks. For several months the Lightning squadrons had to also cope with shortages of aircraft and spare parts, steady losses and a lack of replacement pilots. To survive, American aviators had to learn quickly, and they did. They were relieved to find that under certain conditions the Lightning could both outrun and outturn the Messerschmitt. While it is difficult to definitively attribute victories in air combat, in the air battles over Tunisia and later over Sicily and Italy, the claims made by Lightning pilots were comparable to Luftwaffe claims for P-38s destroyed. The P-38 squadrons were credited with approximately 371 Bf 109s shot down, while the Luftwaffe Jagdgeschwader claimed 310 P-38s. Several of the Luftwaffe’s Experten scored well against the Lightning, with two pilots being credited with more than ten P-38s shot down, and an additional four claiming seven or more. However, there were also several young P-38 pilots who did well in combat with the Bf 109 too, with seven claiming five or more victories against the Messerschmitt.

The author of ten series titles for Osprey on aerial combat in World War II that have primarily covered fighter and bomber operations in the Pacific, ‘Ted’ Young turns his attention to the bitterly fought air war in North Africa and the Mediterranean in 1942–43. Using original archival sources, official records and first-hand accounts from both USAAF and Luftwaffe veterans, as well as newly commissioned artwork and 50 carefully selected photographs from official and personal archives, this book sees two of the most iconic piston-engined fighters of their era pitted head-to-head for control of the skies in a key theatre of World War II.