Book Review
Soviet Armed Forces
Osprey Publishing LTD World War II Soviet Armed Forces (2) 1942-43
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


Osprey Publications Ltd has released World War II Soviet Armed Forces (2) 1942-43 (by Dr. Nigel Thomas and illustrator Darko Pavlovic) as Number 468 in their Men-At-Arms series. This is the second volume of a three-volume series of Soviet armed forces during World War II. It is a paperback with 48 pages; included with the text are black & white photographs, color illustrations, information charts (tables) and detailed captions.


- The Long Counter-Attack
- The Soviet High Command
o Stalin and Stavka –Zhukov as Deputy Supreme High Commander – General Staff: Shaposhnikov and Vasilevskiy
- Red Army Land Forces
o Personnel: conscription – NCO and officer training
o Branches of service
o Organization: military districts – ‘strategic directions’ – ‘fronts’
o Armies – corps – divisions – brigades – regiments – battalions
o Partisans
- Summary Of Land Forces Campaigns
o Northern theatre, Feb 1942 - Jan 1943
o Central theatre, Jan 1942 – Oct 1943
o Southern theatre, June 1942 – Dec 1943
o Caucasus theatre, July 1942 – Oct 1943
- Land Forces Uniforms
o Headgear – tunics and field shirts – overcoats – legwear and footwear – camouflage uniforms
o Branch – specific uniforms: armoured troops – mounted personnel – Cossacks – mountain detachments – female personnel
o Branch distinctions: facing colours – piping colours – badges
o Rank insignia, July 1940 and Jan 1941 regulations
- Red Army Air Force
o Air Force branches
o Organization
o Operational assignments
o Uniforms, 13 July 1940 – 5 Jam 1943
o Airborne Forces
- Navy
o Command – branches & organization – operational assignments
o Uniforms, 24 Jan 1941 – 15 Feb 1943: Officers – ranks – branch distinctions – rank insignia – proficiency shields – Guards insignia
o Naval Infantry
- NKVD Security Forces
o Organization, uniforms and insignia
- Plate Commentaries
- Index

The book is well-written and extremely detailed. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through the book, which is a relief these days. Thomas covers the World War II Soviet armed forces during the timeframe of 1942-1943 very well. He discusses the different branches of the Soviet military, their areas of operations, the uniforms of the time, as well as specific individuals and their actions. It is obvious that the author has gone to great lengths to research all aspects of the Soviet armed forces during the period covered. Anyone interested in World War II Soviet Armed Forces, their areas of operation, and their uniforms and weapons will find this book very informative and interesting.

There are a total of 36 black & white photographs throughout the book. Most of them are nice and clear, however, there are some that have an out-of-focus look to them, while others are too dark. Some of them are taken from film stills, which will account for their lack of sharpness. With that said, the quality of the photographs does not take anything away from the book.

The 24 color illustrations by Darko Pavlovic are very well-done, are nicely detailed and almost look like photographs as opposed to illustrations. They include:

- Armed Forces Commanders, 1942.
o General-Polkovnik I.S. Konev; Western Front, August 1942
o Vitse-Admirial V.F. Tributs; Red Banner Baltic Fleet, April 1942
o General’niy Komissar Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti L.P. Beriya
- Northern & Central Russia, 1942
o General-Leytenant A.A. Vlasov, 2nd Shock Army; Tikhvin, March 1942
o Infantry subaltern, 257th Rifle Div; Kholm, January 1942
o Krasnoarmeyets, 214th Airborne Bde; Vyazma, April 1942
- Caucasus & Crimea 1942
o Serzhant, 63rd Cavalry Division, August 1942
o Krasnoarmeyets, 1st Mtn Detachment, November 1942
o Michman, 9th Naval Infantry Bde; Sevastopol, June 1942
- Southern Russia, 1942
o Divizionniy Kommissar, 40th Army; Kastornoye, June 1942
o Voenfel’dsher 2-go range, 76th Rifle Div; Kharkov, May 1942
o Kapitan, 207th Fighter Air Div; Voronezh, May 1942
- Battle Of Stalingrad, 1942-43
o Gvardii Starshiy Leytenant, 16th Guards Tank Bde, December 1942
o Starshiy Serzhant, 112th Rifle Div, November 1942
o Inzhener-Podpolkovnik, 291st ‘Kiev” Ground-Attack Air Div, November 1942
- North & Central Russia, 1943
o Serzhant, 45th Guards Rifle Div; Krasny Bor, February 1943
o Partisan officer; Pripyat Marshes, Belarus, April 1943
o General-Mayor Tankovykh Voysk, 33rd Army; Smolensk, August 1943
- Kursk & Kharkov, 1943
o Krasnoarmeyets, Assualt Engineer-Sapper Brigade; Kursk, July 1943
o Yefreytor, 183rd Rifle Div; Kharkov, August 1943
- Ukraine & Caucasus, 1943
o Gvardii Starshina 2-y stat’l, Black Sea Fleet, June 1943
o Podpolkovnik, 290th NKVD Rifle Regt; Novorossiysk, October 1943
o Krasnoarmeyets, 3rd Penal Bn, 13th Army; Kiev, November 1943

There are five information charts (tables) provided. They detail information on:

- Red Army Fronts and Armies, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943
- Red Army Orders of Dress, 13 July 1940 to 6 January 1943
- Red Army Branch Distinctions, 13 July 1940 to 5 January 1943
- Red Army, NKVD, Air Force and Navy ranks and rank insignia, 13 July 1940 to 5 January 1943
- Red Navy Officers’ Branch Distinctions, 24 January 1942 to 15 February 1943

The captions are well-written, and are very detailed. They explain the accompanying photographs well, and cover things such as the individuals and their units shown, the equipment and weapons, and the uniform items. Thomas also corrects mistakes that have been mentioned by other individuals when discussing certain photographs.


All in all, I am very impressed with the book. It provides the kind of overview that all readers will find interesting, and I wouldn’t have any hesitation recommending it to others.

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.
Highs: Well researched, written, and detailed text and captions. Nice photographs. Very nice color illustrations
Lows: Some of the photographs have a blurry look to them. Some of the photographs appear to be too dark.
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book that is well researched and written and contains nice photographs with well detailed captions. The color illustrations are very nice and will be very valuable to the military figure modeler for reference.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-420-8
  Suggested Retail: US $17.95 / UK £9.99 / CA
  PUBLISHED: Jul 20, 2011

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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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.


Nice review Randy. I have to agree with Darren though- some copies of Osprey books have info about equipment on the back of the color plate- thats better. Having it at the end is rather annoying but still, not that big a problem. To me the wealth of different Soviet uniforms and insignia is confusing at times- I reckon this book would make it nice and clear.
JUL 21, 2011 - 12:51 AM
Cheers Harv. one needs these sort of books to get to grips with Soviet uniforms. There seamed to be alot of small changes to they're uniforms, would be a shame to model 1944-45 uniforms at Starlingrad.
JUL 21, 2011 - 04:49 AM
Don't know about the rest of the book, but just from the preview: "... carry blanket-rolls over their shoulder ..." (page 16, lower photo) Actually that is not a blanket. It is a greatcoat rolled like that. Here is another example of it: They also rolled waterproof cape (could also be used as a tent) like that, but it would be much flatter than on the photo from the book.
JUL 21, 2011 - 05:17 AM
My friends from Moscow gave me one of these rain capes as present this summer 1976 dated,they were the same style they used them during WW2
JUL 21, 2011 - 10:43 AM
Thank you everyone for your replies. As I always try to state, I do appreciate any and all feedback as it always helps me to write better reviews. After reading your replies I realized there are a few other items I should have discussed. Bill C. has also contacted me and with his suggestions, and your comments, I hope to write better reviews in the future. Thank you again, Randy
JUL 23, 2011 - 06:02 AM
Alex it is my understanding that the rolled tent squares where often used to store odds and ends in (even clean clothing) when rolled and so would no always look as indicated in the picture. Am I wrong in this belief?
JUL 23, 2011 - 08:14 AM
Hi, Darren I have never heard of Red Army soldiers doing such things. I have read somewhere awhile ago that Romanian infantry did something like that. But in my personal view it is very impractical - if you need to use it as a raincoat (or a tent) what do you do with all your stuff? Plus those Russian raincoats/tents had holes in them for your arms. Again, not very convenient to store personal items. I am still 100% sure that a guy in the photo from the book has a greatcoat rolled like that. You could see it on the first photo from my previous post. Here is a better photo for you to see what it looked like: To store personal items they were using a standard issue bag: For a good reference you may like check out this site: http://rkka.ru/iuniform.htm Or if you are interested I have PDF file of the 1941 Red Army soldier field equipment manual (46 pages, 4.83 Mb)
JUL 23, 2011 - 10:38 AM
Thank you Alex I am very interested in the "1941 Red Army soldier field equipment manual". I have read quite a lot about the Russian infantry man and the equipment they should have, and I have several books on the subject dealing mostly with the soldier rather than the war in general. My belief was formed by various bits and pieces I have picked up from written material which indicated some of the habits that were formed by necessity rather than by design.
JUL 23, 2011 - 11:58 AM
I was not saying that it could never happen. I was saying that it seems very impractical to me. As far as the book, PM me with your e-mail address and I will send you the manual.
JUL 24, 2011 - 05:30 AM

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