Book Review
The Atlantic Wall (3)
The Atlantic Wall (3) The Südwall
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


This book completes the story of one of the most formidable defensive lines in Europe in World War II, the Atlantic Wall. The collapse of Italy in September 1943 raised the prospects that the Allies might attempt to invade France from the Mediterranean rather than across the English Channel and this led to a plan to extend the Atlantic Wall along the Mediterranean coast. The Germans launched a crash building program and the “Südwall” (South Wall) sprang up quickly along the French Mediterranean coast and the neighboring Italian coast around Genoa. The new defenses were bolstered by existing French fortifications at key port towns such as Marseilles and Toulon – many of them bristling with heavy artillery. Whilst describing the physical design features of the key fortifications, this book also recounts their role in countering the Allied invasion of Southern France, Operation Dragoon.

(Quoted from the back cover of the book.).

The Book

Osprey Publications Ltd has released The Atlantic Wall (3) The Südwall as Number 109 in their Fortress series. It is a softcover book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, cut-away views, informational charts, color maps and detailed captions. It has a 2015 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-1146-2. As the title states, the book details and discusses the Atlantic Wall during World War Two.

The Contents

  • Introduction
  • Design and Development
  • The Principles of Defense
  • Tour of the Sites
  • The Living Site
  • Operational History
  • The Sites Today
  • Further Reading
  • Index

The Text

The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. Steven J. Zaloga covers the Atlantic Wall fortifications and their use during World War II in great detail as one can guess by the title. Discussed are the many types of fortifications and bunkers used along the Atlantic Wall. An example of what the text contains can be obtained by reading the contents section above. The contents section is very accurate as to what is contained within the covers of this excellent volume covering some of Germany’s fixed fortifications in the Atlantic Wall. Steven J. Zaloga goes into great detail in regards to each of the defenses used. He provides dates, locations, type of emplacement/bunker used, and their roles in combat if they indeed saw action. Zaloga also details the types of weapons used, their calibers, the locations from which they were obtained or captured and what their original purpose was. Specifications as to the materials used to build the defenses are detailed providing information such as the amount of steel and concrete used in their construction. As a huge fan of captured weapons and equipment I was pleased as I read through this volume due to the amount of text provided that covers weaponry and already existing fortifications that were captured and repurposed and used by the axis powers. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the Atlantic Wall fortifications and their use during World War II to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.

The Photographs

There are a total of 51 black and white photographs and 3 color photographs. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light but do not take anything away from the book. Author Steven J. Zaloga stuck to the title of the book and provided photographs that are specific to the Atlantic Wall fortifications and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the military fortifications enthusiast and military modeler due to the details they contain.

Some of the photographs that I found to particularly interesting contain subjects such as:

  • A battery at French Morocco armed with 130mm guns. The guns have destroyed barrels as they were spiked by their crews before they surrendered.
  • An Italian dome-shaped pillbox at Cannes, France disguised as a house.
  • An aerial view of the old Fort Cépet near Toulon, France reconstructed by the Germans to serve as a Flak base.
  • A Panzerdrehturm used as a turret with a Pz.Kpfw II turret upgraded with a vision cupola.
  • A 380mm Siegfried railway gun of Eisenbahn-Batterie 698.
  • A 280mm K5 rail-gun from Eisenbahn-Batterie 749.
  • A war-booty Soviet 76.2mm Mod. 1927 regimental gun used for coastal defense near Toulon, France.
  • High posts, known as “Rommel’s Asparagus” planted for anti-glider defenses behind the beaches at Ste Maxime.
  • US engineers from the 540th Engineers AFHQ who are planting charges to destroy an anti-tank wall. Of particular interest is the fact that the engineers have placed captured German anti-tank mines along with their own charges to enhance the blast.
  • US troops inspecting a “Doodlebug house” on Beach Camel Red.
  • A color photograph of a US Navy sailor inspecting a Panzerdrehturm using a Pz.Kpfw II turret mounted on a Bf.236 Ringstand in the defenses overlooking Cavalaire bay in August 1944.
  • A war-booty French APX-1CE turret from a Somua S35 tank mounted as a Panzerdrehturm on a Rings and on the Marseille coast.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

The Illustrations

There are 8 color plates by illustrator Adam Hook. Of the illustrations 7 of them provide cut-a-way views showing the internal layout of the defenses. The illustrations are of:

Plate A

Stutzpunkt Batterie De Giens, 1./Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 627, Toulon

- Old French fort on the Presqu’ile de Giens peninsula.
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Plate B

Turm Friedrich, Batterie cap Cepet, St Mandrier Peninsula 1944

- A Schneider turret armed with two 340mm guns covering the Toulon, France harbor
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Plate C

Field Artillery Entrenchment, Abteilung Coniglio, Fréjus, August 1944

- A field artillery position with an Ansaldo Obice 149/19 149mm field howitzer and German crew.

Plate D

Panzerdrehtürm 38(T) Normalserie, Bauform Nr. 241, Südwall, 1944

- A Panzer 38(t) turret on a Tobruk style bunker.
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Plate E

Doodlebug Garage, Camel Beach, Stützpunkt Tiger, St Raphaël, Operation Dragoon, 1944

- A Goliath Leichte Ladungsträger SdKfz 202 (Light Payload Carrier) in a protective “garage” on one of the beaches at Baie de Fréjus.
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Plate F

M272 150mm Gun Casenate, Batterie Rade D'Hyeres, 3./MAA 627

- A M272 naval gun casemate with a 150mm Tbts.K C/36 destroyer gun at an old French fortification which covered the 'Hyeres and the Gulf of Giens.
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Plate G

M262 Leitstand, Batterie Rade D'Hyeres, 3./MAA 627

- The fire control post of the 'Hyeres battery that was designed to identify, track and designate targets for the battery.
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Plate H

Batterie Ratonneau, Stutzpunkt MAR 195A, Marseille, 1944

- An illustration showing how the battery at Marseille, France would have looked if it had been completed. The battery was to be armed with four turrets armed with 24cm KM 02-06 (f) French naval guns that had originally armed the old battleships Danton and Mirabeau.
(Contains a cut-a-way view)

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

The Maps

There are 2 color maps included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:

  • The Südwall, August 15, 1944
  • Tactical strongpoints, Camel Beach Sector, Operation Dragoon, 15 August 1944

The Information Charts

There are 8 informational charts provided which provide information on:

  • Chart 1. Defensive fortifications categories
  • Chart 2. Organization Todt fortifications, Mediterranean Coast 1944
  • Chart 3. Pace of Südwall construction (permanent bunkers)
  • Chart 4. Kriegsmarine coastal artillery deployments on the Südwall in 1944
  • Chart 5. Army coastal artillery deployments on the Südwall in 1944
  • Chart 6. Beach obstacle density on AOK 19 coastline
  • Chart 7. Ligurian Wall coastal artillery, June 1944
  • Chart 8. Air bombardment of Cap Cépet

The Notes

There are 3 notes included in this volume on Page 2 and they are:

  • Artist’s Note
  • The Woodland trust
  • Author’s Note

There is also a Glossary provided that translates German terms and abbreviations/acronyms into English.

The Captions

The captions are well written and are greatly detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustration in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place. The captions go into very specific detail as to the type of fortification shown, it’s location and purpose, interior details of the fortifications, the time frame that is was used, weapon types and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Steven J. Zaloga’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.


As with the other Osprey Publishing fortress series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up detailed subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the Atlantic Wall during World War Two very well and I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.


Search inside The Atlantic Wall (3) The Südwall on the Osprey web site Live links

Look inside The Atlantic Wall (3) The Südwall on the Amazon web site Live links

Look inside the Kindle Edition of The Atlantic Wall (3) The Südwall on the Amazon web site Live links
Highs: Well written text and captions; subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: Another excellent volume in Osprey Publishing’s Fortress series. Definitely beneficial to the military fortifications enthusiast and military modeler.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-4728-1146-2
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95 / UK £11.99
  PUBLISHED: Nov 30, 2015

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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