On the blog today Commissioning Editor Tom Milner has lots to offer you next year in the New Vanguard series.

This year New Vanguard offers another selection of books exploring the machinery of warfare. I’m particularly looking forward to Osprey’s first look at the undeservedly neglected Manchuria 1945 campaign, examining the Soviet tank forces that overran the Japanese army in the last set-piece operation of World War II. Steve Zaloga’s Tanks at the Iron Curtain concludes with a technological survey of the last generation of Cold War tanks and how they compared, and his S-300 and S-400 Missile Systems is a very topical account of the most modern Russian strategic air defence systems. Naval enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Soviet River Gunboats, the unique craft that took advantage of Russia’s huge network of rivers, and with their blend of firepower and mobility fought at key battles across the Eastern Front.

Let us know what you think in the comments! 


NVG 315: The Russian S-300 and S-400 Missile Systems

By Steven J. Zaloga

An expert account of the development, role, and capabilities of the S-300 and S-400 air defence missile systems, key strategic weapons in Putin's Russia.

Few modern missile systems have had such significance as the S-300 family. Highly regarded technically, Russia’s most powerful air-defence systems have been a major strategic asset to the country, exported to major powers around the world, and are a key weapon in many international hotspots and in recent wars.

In this book, professional missile systems analyst Steve Zaloga uses his specialist knowledge to assess and analyse them in detail. He explains that the S-300 is, in fact, three systems: the S-300P, designed as a replacement for older Soviet strategic SAM systems, the S-300V, developed to defend against Pershing ballistic missiles, and the S-300F, designed for ship defense. He also considers the supplementary S-350 system and the new-generation S-400 system, deployed in Syria and sold to both China and Turkey. An assessment of the latest S-500 system, designed to counter ballistic missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles, is also provided.

Packed with detailed colour artwork and new photos, this book explains the considerable evolution of the S-300 family, perhaps the world’s most famous strategic SAM, over the last three decades.


NVG 316: Soviet Tanks in Manchuria 1945

By William E. Hiestand

A new illustrated study of the devastating, but little-known, Soviet armored blitzkrieg against the Japanese in the last weeks of World War II, and how it influenced Soviet tank doctrine as the Cold War dawned.

Although long overshadowed in the West by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the USSR’s lightning strike into Manchuria in August 1945 was one of the most successful and unique campaigns of the era. Soviet forces, led by over 5,500 tanks and self-propelled guns, attacked across huge distances and deserts, marshes, and mountains to smash Japan’s million-strong Kwantung Army in a matter of days.

Japanese forces were short of training and equipment, but nevertheless fought fiercely, inflicting 32,000 casualties on the Soviets. Red Army operations were characterized by surprise, speed, and deep penetrations by tank-heavy forces born of the brutal lessons they had learned during years fighting the Wehrmacht. Lessons from the campaign directly shaped Soviet Cold War force structure and planning for mechanized operations against the West.

Illustrated with contemporary artwork and rare photos from one of the best collections of Soviet military photos in the West, this fascinating book explains exactly how the last blitzkrieg of World War II was planned, fought, and won, and how it influenced the Red Army's plans for tank warfare against NATO in Europe.


NVG 317: British Aircraft Carriers 1945–2010

By Angus Konstam

The history of the Royal Navy flagships that led the fleet through the Cold War, ensured victory in the Falklands War, and saw action in Iraq and the Balkans.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, the Royal Navy's carrier fleet proved essential to the post-war world. Royal Navy carriers fought in the Korean War with the UN fleet, in the debacle at Suez, and in British operations in the last days of Empire, in Malaya, Borneo and Aden. But most famously, they were the key to the Royal Navy's victory in the Falklands campaign, and they went on to fight in the two Iraq wars.

Illustrated throughout with new profiles of the key carriers and their development as well as a cutaway of HMS Victorious and superb new illustrations of the carriers in action, this book explains how the Royal Navy's air power changed throughout the Cold War and beyond. Renowned naval historian Angus Konstam explains how the World War II carriers were rebuilt in a pioneering modernization that allowed them to operate a new generation of naval jets. As carriers became more expensive to operate, the Royal Navy had to scrap its conventional fast jets and introduce a new generation of light carriers designed for the innovative Harrier 'jump jet'. When the Falklands War broke out, it was one of these new carriers and one veteran carrier – laid down during World War II – that gave the Task Force the fighters it needed to defend itself in hostile waters and retake the islands.

 Covering a period of dramatic change for the Royal Navy, this book is a history of the Royal Navy's most important ships throughout the Cold War, the retreat from Empire, and the Falklands and Iraq wars, up to the moment Royal Navy fixed-wing air power was temporarily axed in 2010.


NVG 318: British Escort Warships 1939–45

By Angus Konstam

A history of the small, mass-produced warships that defended the Atlantic convoys from U-boats, and secured Britain's lifeline to the United States.

As the Battle of the Atlantic grew fiercer, Britain and the Commonwealth needed large quantities of new warships to defend their shipping which could be produced cheaply. The two largest type of ship produced were the escort destroyer and the frigate. Escort destroyers were essentially small destroyers optimized for anti-submarine warfare, with speed and anti-surface weaponry sacrificed, while frigates were simpler, designed so they could be built quickly in civilian shipyards. Nearly 200 were built.

These warships were key to protecting convoys in the Atlantic Ocean where their range and seagoing qualities made them well-suited for operations. They were also used to form hunting groups, and collectively accounted for the destruction of scores of German U-boats. Their arrival came at a critical time for the Royal Navy, when the Battle of the Atlantic was reaching its climax, and losses in both merchant ships and escorts was mounting.

In this book, naval expert Angus Konstam outlines the history of the Hunt-, Loch-, Bay-, and River-class escort destroyers and frigates, revealing how crews fought, and what life was like on board. Using archive photos, detailed colour profiles, a Hunt-class cutaway, and battlescenes of the ships at war, he explores the key role played by these small but deadly escorts.


NVG 319: Tanks in Operation Bagration 1944

By Steven J. Zaloga

A new study of tank warfare used in the Soviet offensive of Operation Bagration, which destroyed Army Group Center.

Operation Bagration, the 1944 summer campaign on the Russian Front has been called “Hitler's Greatest Defeat.” Involving substantial tank and armored vehicle forces on both sides, the Wehrmacht was severely hampered by the transfer of dozens of Panzer divisions to France to repel an expected Allied invasion. Forced to make hard decisions, German tank forces in the central Belarus sector were weak compared to the heavy concentration of Panzers in northern Ukraine. The Red Army exploited this vulnerability, crushing Army Group Center, and pushing beyond the Soviet frontier into Poland and East Prussia. With this crucial victory secured, the Red Army conducted successive offensives beyond the Carpathian Mountains, arriving at the Vistula river in Poland, and forcing Romania to switch sides.

The Red Army had embarked on a major tank modernization after the Kursk battles of 1943 and as a result, Operation Bagration saw the first widespread use of T-34-85 and IS-2 tanks as well as self-propelled guns. Germany’s Panther tank finally reached technical maturity in the summer of 1944 but small numbers weakened its battlefield impact, while other innovations such as the Tiger II heavy tank failed to leave their mark. Using new photos and a fascinating selection of color illustrations explaining the camouflage and markings of these tanks, this book describes how the tanks and AFVs on both sides contributed to the eventual defeat of Army Group Center.


NVG 320: US Navy Protected Cruisers 1883–1918

By Brian Lane Herder

Explores the history of the US Navy's 11 new steel warships, built during the late 19th century, to launch America on the road to naval supremacy.

After the American Civil War, the powerful US Navy was allowed to decay into utter decrepitude, and it was becoming a security liability. In 1883, Congress approved four new steel-constructed vessels called the “ABCD” ships. The three protected cruisers Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago were the first steel warships built for the US Navy, whose 1880s–1890s technological and cultural transformation was so total it is now remembered as the ‘New Navy’. This small fleet was joined by a succession of new and distinctive protected cruisers, culminating in the famous and powerful Olympia. These 11 protected cruisers formed the backbone of the early US steel navy, and were in the frontline of the US victory in the 1898 Spanish-American War. It was these warships that fought and won the decisive Battle of Manila Bay. These cruisers also served faithfully as escorts and auxiliaries in World War I before the last were retired in the 1920s.

Written by experienced US naval researcher Brian Lane Herder, this book explores the development, qualities, and service of these important warships and highlights the almost-forgotten Columbia-class, designed as high-speed commerce raiders, and to mimic specific passenger liners. illustrated with archive photographs, all 11 protected cruisers are depicted in meticulously researched color illustrations with the Olympia deploying her full sail rig.


NVG 321: Allied Tanks at El Alamein 1942

By William E. Hiestand

Examines Eighth Army's 1,000-strong tank force – rebuilt, reorganized, and equipped with brand-new Sherman and Churchill tanks – that secured victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein.

When Eighth Army retired into the defensive line at El Alamein on 30 June 1942, it was tired, dispirited, and had lost almost all its tanks during a string of defeats at Gazala, Tobruk and Mersa Matruh. After savage defensive fighting at First Alamein, the reinforced Desert Rats defeated Rommel’s last offensive in a tank-to-tank clash at Alam Halfa in September. The next month, a completely rebuilt and reorganized Eighth Army, equipped with over 1,000 tanks including the American M4 Sherman, launched the offensive that would finally drive Rommel out of Africa.

Montgomery shaped Eighth Army according to his own military ideas, and on 23rd October was able to attack the Axis defences with the largest force of armoured divisions in its history, with the 1st, 8th and 10th united in a new “corps de chasse” intended to defeat the Afrika Korps at its own game, and the 7th and two infantry support tank brigades assigned to support the XXX and XIII Corps. With the exception of the A9, A10 and A13 cruisers of 1940-41, as the offensive began Eighth Army contained every type of tank employed during the North Africa campaign.

Using detailed illustrations of the tanks involved with an analysis of the tactics employed within battle, this is a focused examination of the tank forces that won the Second Battle of El Alamein - the most famous British Army victory of World War II, and one of the turning points of the war.


NVG 322: US Navy Destroyers 1945–88

By Mark Stille

A history of the long Cold War careers of the US Navy's last gun destroyers, from the modernized World War II-era Fletcher-class to the Forrest Sherman-class.

The finest American destroyers of World War II had surprisingly long careers into the Cold War and the missile age. The 175-strong Fletcher-class was the largest class of US Navy destroyers ever built, and most received some modernization after World War II. A handful were converted into ASW escorts and one was even converted into the US Navy’s first guided missile destroyer. Many Sumner-class destroyers were also kept in service, with the last decommissioned in 1973.

The Gearing class was the classic US Navy wartime destroyer to have a second Cold War career, some being modified into picket ships and other into ASW escorts. Ninety-five were extensively modernized under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) programme which allowed them to serve until 1980. The majority of these ships then saw service with foreign navies.

But the story of Cold War gun destroyers is not just one of World War II relics. Commissioned in the 1950s, the 18-ship Forrest Sherman class were the US Navy’s last all-gun destroyers, and were considered to be the pinnacle of US Navy gun destroyer design. Later in their careers, most were modernized for ASW and antiair warfare. The virtually unknown Norfolk class were originally built as destroyer leaders and maximized for ASW. Only two were modernized; the other three were retired early.

Packed with illustrations and photos, this book explores the careers, modernizations, and roles of all these unsung Cold War stalwarts, the last gun destroyers of the US Navy.


NVG 323: Tanks at the Iron Curtain 1975–90

By Steven J. Zaloga

A comprehensive account of the new generation of advanced tanks to emerge during the last 15 years of the Cold War, showcasing major improvements in armor protection, gunsights, and firecontrol systems.

Focusing on the technology of the period, author Steven J. Zaloga explains how the demands of a potential Cold War battlefield spurred the development of the 20th century’s most advanced tanks. He considers the final versions of the Soviet T-72, T-64, and T-80 and assesses their strengths and weaknesses. He also explores how the failure of the US-German MBT-70 project led to America’s development of the M1 Abrams tank, and to Germany’s all-new Leopard II. The British development of the Challenger tank is also considered, as is the lesser-known Leclerc tank developed by France, the smallest and lightest of any of the western designs.

Pinpointing the technology utilized, including turbine engines, APFSDS ammunition, advanced armor, and computerized fire-control systems, this volume describes how rival tank designs compared, and describes their place in modern armies.


NVG 324: Soviet Motor Gunboats of World War II

By Przemyslaw Budzbon

A compelling account of the heavily armed and highly mobile Soviet river gunboats which took on the German Kriegsmarine during World War II.

Russia's enormous river system has long been its highway and, as early as 1908, the Tsar's armies were developing armoured, motor-driven river boats, bringing tank-like mobility, firepower and survivability to Russian battlefields.

This book, the first history of these vessels in English, explains how this concept led to one of the most remarkable naval weapons of World War II, the Soviet 'river tank', or Armoured Motor Gun Boat (AMGB). Highly mobile, these armoured boats were fitted with T-26 or T-34 tank turrets, and had a fighting capacity that even the German Kriegsmarinewas hard pushed to match.

Nearly 300 AMGBs were built during World War II. Capable of carrying up to 20 infantrymen directly into action and providing immediate firepower, their military value was widely recognized. They were versatile enough to be used in naval landing operations off the Gulf of Finland, the Azov Sea and the Black Sea, and their capabilities were prized by local commanders.

Using meticulous new colour profiles of different types of gun boats and their variants, a cutaway of the T-26-armed Project 1124, plus spectacular new artwork of the AMGBs in action at Stalingrad and in the Crimea, this book uncovers the history of river warfare on the Eastern Front, and the boats that played such a key part in the fighting.


NVG 325: German Field Artillery of World War II

By Steven J. Zaloga

An illustrated study of the big guns of Hitler's army - the Wehrmacht's field artillery, its capabilities and its role in German fighting units of World War II.

Overshadowed in much conventional military history by the tanks and aircraft of Blitzkrieg, the German Army throughout World War II relied on the big guns of its artillery for the firepower it needed to support its offensives and repel attacking forces.

Redressing the balance, this book surveys the major Wehrmacht field artillery of World War II. The primary focus is on the divisional field guns, especially the lFH 18 10.5cm field howitzer and the 15cm sFH 18 field howitzer that formed the backbone of German artillery in World War II. A brief survey is also made of the infantry guns used at the regimental level. Corps level heavy artillery is also briefly depicted, though the book does not cover super heavy siege guns that have already been covered in another Osprey NVG. The issue of the use of “Beutewaffen”, captured war-booty field guns, is also briefly surveyed. The book also provides a sketch of the basic organizational structure of the German field artillery in World War II.