In-Box Review
The Fall of Eban Emael
The Fall of Ebaen Emael - Belgium 1940
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


This is a review of the Osprey Publishing LTD book The Fall Of Eben Emael – Belgium 1940 by author Chris McNab and illustrators Peter Dennis, Mark Stacey and Alan Gilliland.

body of the text

** To the planners of the Blitzkrieg against Western Europe, the fortress of Eben Emael stood apparently impregnable on the Belgian border. Behind 60m-high canal walls and huge anti-tank ditches, the fortress was largely underground and defended by numerous bunkers. But on the surface, its armoured 75mm and 120mm gun turrets commanded the bridges that the Germans had to cross. Eben Emael had to be taken, but a conventional assault was impossible. Instead, as the invasion began, fewer than 90 elite Fallschirmjäger paratroops deployed silently by glider onto the fortress roof. Equipped with new shaped-charge demolitions they took little more than 20 minutes to subdue the shocked garrison and begin destroying the guns of Eben Emael. This volume provides a blow-by-blow account of the action, explaining both the tactical and strategic levels of the operation and how the high-risk raid proved the very concept of airborne warfare. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released The Fall Of Eben Emael – Belgium 1940 as Number 38 in their Raid series. It is a paperback book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and colour photographs, colour illustrations, colour map, ‘birds-eye-view map, informational charts, detailed captions and first-hand accounts and quotes. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-261-0. The book details the German raid on the fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium in 1940 during World War II.

the contents

- Introduction
- Airborne warriors
- Origins
- Fall Gelb
- The right force
- The fort of Eben Emael
- The Plan
- Training begins
- The Raid
- On the way
- Couple Nord
- Mi-Sud and Mi-Nord
- Maastricht 1 and Maastricht 2
- Consolidating the attack
- The bridges
- Securing Eben Emael
- Surrender
- Analysis
- Lightning attack
- The heroes
- Conclusion
- Bibliography And Further Reading
- Index
the text

Chris McNab covers the German raid on the fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium in 1940 during World War II very well and goes into great detail about the individuals on both sides of the conflict as well as specific actions and their outcomes due to a well written and extremely detailed text. This is a well written history that will be of great use and interest to the well-seasoned and knowledgeable World War Two historian or the individual that is new to the German raid on the fortress and wants to learn about its history due to its precise history and the use of several personal accounts and quotes from both sides of the conflict. With all of the personal accounts included it helps put the reader in the correct frame of mind as to what was taking place on both sides of the fighting and also helps to paint a picture of the battle overall. 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 German raid on the fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium in 1940 during World War II to their personal library and military reference collection 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 29 black and white photographs and 10 colour photographs shown throughout this volume. The majority of the photographs are very nice and will help the military modeller well. They range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. As a modeller who is interested in paratroops and their weapons as well as, and especially, bunkers and similar fortifications I was very pleased with the selection of photographs featured. The interior and colour photographs of the exterior and interior are especially helpful to me due to all that they show. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however there are some that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and some appear too light, which is typical for photographs of that period of time.

I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason as well as the fact that the photographs are close to 70 years old. With that said the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and take away nothing from the book. Chris McNab has stuck to the title of the book and chose photographs that are specific to the German raid on the fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium in 1940 and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. There are several excellent photographs that will help out the aircraft, weapons, figure and diorama modeller. The majority of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information due to the details they contain.

Some of my favorite photographs contain subjects such as:
- A Fallschirmjäger making a static-line parachute jump from a Ju 52 transport aircraft
- German infantry advancing through Belgium
- The interior and exterior bunker, black and white as well as colour, images
- A German DFS 230 glider
- Demolition charges as the type used at Eben Emael
- Close-up images of the German Fallschirmjäger with their weapons and equipment
Some of the key individuals shown are:
- Rudolf Witzig, the commander of Sturmgruppe ‘Granit’
- Hauptmann Walter Koch
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

the illustrations

There are five colour illustrations by illustrators Peter Dennis, Mark Stacey and Alan Gilliland. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

- Inside the 75mm Casemates (please see attached scan)
- German Fallschirmjäger and Belgian Infantryman, 1940 (please see attached scan)
- Assault on Maastricht 2
- The attack on Veldwezelt Bridge
- The fifth colour illustration is on the front cover of the book (please see attached scan)
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

the maps

There is one colour map included in this volume which is well done, nicely detailed and is of:

- Overall operations map showing the Belgium, Netherlands and German borders and area of operations. There are two insert maps as well as a legend and a distance scale included.
There is also 1 ‘birds-eye-view’ 3-D colour map included in this volume which is well done, nicely detailed and is of:

- Taking Eben Emael – The Plan – 10 May 1940
- Structures
- Sturmgruppe ‘Granit’ Objectives By Trupp
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the maps for yourself.

the charts

There are two informational charts provided which provide information on:

- Fallschirmjäger, Belgian Army, US Army and British Army rank comparison
- Forces Assigned To Eben Emael Area

the notes

There are two notes included in this volume of:

- Artist’s Note
- Editor’s Note
the captions

The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph. The captions go into very specific detail as to weapons, aircraft, bunkers and their designation and location as well as specific individuals and other such pertinent information. I was impressed by Chris McNab’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. As I read through the captions I did notice a few spelling and grammatical errors however they are very minimal and take absolutely nothing from the narrative.

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.


This is an excellent history and reference book that contains many subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the German raid on the fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium in 1940 during World War II very well. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey 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.


Fallschirmjäger in Action
Combat Troops Number 1
Created by Uwe Feist
Captions Norman Harms
Uniform Illustration Ron Volstadt
Squadron/Signal Publications

Storming Eagles
German Airborne Forces in World War Two
James Lucas
Arms And Armour

Hitler’s Eagles
The Luftwaffe 1933-45
Chris McNab
Osprey Publishing

World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia
Squadron/Signal Publications, #6013
Published in 1977
Martin Windrow with colour illustrations by Gerry Embleton

The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Saturn Books Ltd.
Ian V. Hogg

Guns of the Reich
Firearms of the German Forces, 1939-1945
George Markham
Arms and Armour Press

German Automatic Weapons of World War II
Live Firing Classic Military Weapons in Colour Photographs
Robert Bruce
Windrow & Greene

Great Weapons Of World War II
John Kirk
Robert Young
Introduction by Bernard E. Trainor
Walker And Company

Search inside the book on the Osprey web site:


Osprey Publishing also has The Fall Of Eben Emael – Belgium 1940 available as a:
- PDF ebook
- ePub eBook
Look inside the book on the Amazon web site:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Fall-Eben-Emael-Belgium/dp/1780962614/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365645232&sr=8-1&keywords=The Fall Of Eben Emael

Look inside the Kindle Edition of the book on the Amazon web site:
Highs: Nicely written text and captions Excellent photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention
Verdict: This is an excellent reference book of the German raid on the fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium in 1940 during World War II that is well researched and written.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-78096-261-0
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95 / UK £11.99
  Related Link: The Fall of Ebaen Emael - Belgium 1940
  PUBLISHED: Apr 22, 2013

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.


The Eban Emael assault was spectacular and one of my favorite 1940 actions. I really look forward to this book.
APR 21, 2013 - 06:22 PM
Thanks for the tip. Bought the Kindle version, went through it during the afternoon. Good book with lots of insides on the fortress and the assault. Liked the comments from persons that where there. The Kindle (actually: Kindle Reader on a Win8 tablet) version is mostly readable. Some of the color tables require a switch to "landscape" mode (Wider than high) and being "double paged" are so-so. Typical Kindle problem. Still it is clear that the publisher did more than simply "Kindlefy" the manuscript. Recommended both for the content and the presentation.
APR 23, 2013 - 07:00 AM

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