German V-Weapon Sites 1943-45
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 28 Jan 2008
When Adolf Hitler was presented plans for advanced Vergeltungswaffe, or "vengeance weapons", he thought these wonder weapons would secure Germany's eventual victory. These weapons were revolutionary in nearly every way. In the end, however, factors such as effective Allied counterstrikes/countermeasures and the astronomic costs involved in the R&D and construction ultimately made these potentially fearsome weapons rather inconsequential. German V-Weapon Sites 1943-45 of Osprey "Fortress" series takes a closer look at the sites that prepared and launched such weapons.
The book's greatest strength is undoubtedly the rich collection of photographs of surviving V-1 and V-2 launch sites. Many of these photos are from the author Steven Zaloga's private collection. Furthermore, illustrations in color present Zaloga's views on how these sites launched (or would launch, had they not been destroyed by Allied bombing before completion) devastating though yet inaccurate attacks on Allied cities. Selective use of statistics, such as charts that describe the number of launch sites discovered and destroyed by Allied aerial attacks, also contribute much to the readers' understanding of the topic.
To those who are familiar with Osprey works, the language in this book is similarly concise and to-the-point, making the book rather brochure-like in thickness. "Don't judge a book by its cover", as the saying goes, and it holds true for German V-Weapon Sites 1943-45 as well. When necessary, the author dives into enough depth to help the readers understanding the topic on hand. For example, Zaloga provides ample detail regarding the production and transportation difficulties of liquid nitrogen and how it became a key factor in the design of launch sites. The process to construct such sites is also described in much detail, including a step-by-step illustration on how German engineers excavated the construction sites to minimize damage from aerial attacks, if discovered.
The development of the Vergeltungswaffe affected the outcome of WW2 in relatively trivial ways, but the topic is interesting nevertheless especially considering their value in the Cold War. German V-Weapon Sites 1943-45 is a great primer for anyone interested in learning more about these wonder weapons that failed to deliver on their promises.
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal