Osprey's Superguns 1864 - 1991


Steven Zaloga, illustrated by Jim Laurier


Osprey Publishing


$18.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 48 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-2610-7

This latest offering in Osprey's New Vanguard series covers a subject that few of us really think about and that is what the author calls Superguns. These are basically very long range artillery pieces. Over the years in more modern history, developing an artillery piece that can lob a shell many miles has been considered a thing to develop.

Big guns have been around since the development of cannon, but most of those have been more like mortars than any sort of long range piece. The biggest issue has been in developing something not only with the range needed, but the accuracy. It was soon realized that to achieve both accuracy and range, one needed a fairly long barrel and metallurgy was initially not able to produce one. Not only did it have to be long, but it had to be strong to withstand the pressure needed to eject a shell over great distances.

This book covers a variety of pieces, but concentrates on four of them in any depth. These are the German 'Paris Gun' of WWI as shown on the cover. The incomplete German V-3 of WWII, which was basically a fixed multi chamber gun that was designed to attack London.  Closer to home was the US 'Atomic Canon' of 1953. This weapon was built in small numbers and actually deployed though only fired an atomic shell one time, during tests in 1953. The last one was the infamous Project Babylon, which was based on the WWII V-3 gun and being developed by the Iraqis during the late 1980s and early 1990. It was also never completed.

In addition to these weapons, others are covered in lesser detail as a prelude to show the progression of technology. The book ends with a look at future long range weapon technology which looks into the use of electro-magnetic cannon and the development of this sort of 'gun'. A book that I found quite engrossing and very informative. Highly recommended.

January 2019

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