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Osprey Fortress 29: US WWII and Korean War Field Fortifications 1941–53

by Gordon L Rottman, illustrated by Ian Palmer

Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84179-812-X, 64 pages

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This is a useful book whether your interest lies in dioramas or in small scenic bases for a tank and a few figures. It covers all you need to know about the style and layout of field entrenchments for US forces, both for the men and for crew-served infantry weapons. Even a tank scrape is shown, though they don’t seem to have often been dug in WWII being more a Korean War emplacement in actual use.

The book begins with a look at the principles behind US field defences right up to Divisional level, explaining how the tripartite Division, Regiment, Battalion, Company, and Platoon layouts were organised before moving on to consider in detail how the Platoon-level defences (on which all the others depended) were laid out. Here we get discussion of individual foxholes, two-man holes and heavy weapon emplacements, how they were laid out for interlocking fire and how they were adapted to the terrain. Materials, both excavated spoil and imported rock or wood, were important and how they were used to reinforce the various holes is gone into. Camouflage is also considered, though unfortunately its principles were often ignored making the positions rather obvious to any trained observer. This is just as well for modelling purposes since there wouldn’t be much point in hiding all our careful work!

There’s a substantial chapter on the individual types of holes for both men and weapons, showing how they were constructed and including how barbed wire was laid out – farther in front than is usually modelled, to keep grenadiers out of throwing distance. Then comes a look at how all the principles were actually applied in North Africa, Italy, Northwest Europe, the Pacific, and Korea with the variations compelled by terrain differences and the materials available. Finally there are two examples drawn from life, one the 2nd Ranger Battalion’s defence of Pointe du Hoe after capturing it on D-Day and the other the defence layout of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry, 25th Division in Korea during January 1953.

As I’ve already said, this is a useful book for both small bases and large dioramas.


John Prigent

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