Book Review
Operation Archery
Operation Archery, The Commandos and the Vaagso Raid 1941
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


This is a review of the Osprey Publishing LTD book Operation Archery, The Commandos and the Vaagso Raid 1941. The British especially used raids to test materiel, give troops experience and gather intelligence, as well as on occasion to capture German weapons. Operation Archery was a British raid on German military positions on Vaagso Island, Norway in 1941 (the island’s Norwegian name is Vågsøy Island). The raid was developed to damage German installations and hopefully lower enemy morale. The British used troops from different British Commando units such as Number 2, Number 3, Number 4, and Number 6 Commando, as well as a small group of Norwegians.

In addition, the Royal Navy sent along destroyers, a light cruiser and a submarine to support the operation. The Royal Air Force was also part of the raid, and deployed bombers and fighter bombers to the action. The raid was successful, and it induced Hitler to divert 30,000 troops to Norway and spend resources on upgrading its defenses. Throughout the war, the Führer worried the Allies would attack his northern flank, and tied up men and materiel there.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released Operation Archery: The Commandos and the Vaagso Raid 1941 by Ken Ford and illustrations by Alan Gilliland and Mariusz Kozik as Number 21 in their “Raid” series.

the contents

The book is a paperback with 80 pages, Including color and black & white photographs, color illustrations, color maps and detailed captions.

- Introduction
- Origins of the raid
- Initial strategy
- Planning and training
- The raid
- The Approach
- Bombardment and Landings
- South Vaagso
- Attack on Maaloy
- Assault through the Town
- Naval Actions in the Ulvesund
- Consolidation in South Vaagso
- Air and Naval Battles around Vaagsfjord
-Withdrawal and Evacuation
- Analysis
- Conclusion
- Bibliography and further reading
- Index


The text in the book is well-written and extremely detailed. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through it, either. Ford covers the planning, execution, and the after-effects of the raid very well. The book not only covers the commandos’ actions, but also discusses the naval and air operation as well. The text and the accompanying photographs are in a correct chronological order, making it easy to follow the action. It is obvious that Ford has gone to great lengths to research all aspects of the raid. Anyone interested in WWII British commando operations will find this book very informative and interesting.

There are a total of 46 black & white photographs throughout the book. Most of them are nice and clear, however some have an out-of-focus look, while other appear to be too dark. I have seen several military photographs that have this look to them, so maybe that is just typical. I do know that some are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason. With that said, the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author, and do not take anything away from the book.

There are three color illustrations by Alan Gilliland and Mariusz Kozik, and are very well-done, nicely detailed and cover:

- Private, No. 4 Troop, 3 Commando
- Street fighting
- Landing craft picking up German prisoners and the wounded

There are three color maps throughout the book:

- Events
- The attack
- Operation Archery: The Raid on Vaagso

The captions are well-written and are very detailed. They explain the accompanying photographs well, and I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors in them.


All in all, I am very impressed with the book. It details Operation Archery very well, and I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library, nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when you make your purchase.
Highs: Well researched, written, and detailed text. Excellent captions. Nice photographs and artwork
Lows: Some of the photographs have a blurry look to them. Some are too dark
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book that is well-researched and written and contains many interesting photographs and detailed captions. It will make a nice addition to anyone’s personal library and will also be a benefit to the military enthusiast.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-372-0
  Suggested Retail: $18.95/£11.99
  PUBLISHED: Jul 01, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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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.


Hi RFandy, Many thanks for the review. It as an interesting operation and one I'm familiar with Good to have a concise reference for it and good possibilities for a combined op scene . Cheers Al
JUL 11, 2011 - 05:20 AM
Thank you Alan for your reply. As I always try to state, I do appreciate any and all feedback It always helps me to write better reviews. Thank you again, Randy
JUL 23, 2011 - 05:55 AM

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