Book Review
World War II Winter Tactics
World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


This is a review of the Osprey Publishing LTD book World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics by author Stephen Bull and illustrator Steve Noon with series editor Martin Windrow.


At the outbreak of World War II, only the Scandinavian armies had a real tradition of operating through the hardest of winters, often at high altitude. In early 1940 the world was astonished by Finland’s remarkable resistance to its much stronger Soviet invaders – many of the soldiers were already competent skiers – which was contrasted only months later by the easy defeat of British and French expeditionary forces by the German invaders of Norway. The USSR learned from its mistakes, but Hitler’s successes bred complacency, leading to the Wehrmacht’s disastrous setbacks on the Eastern Front in winter 1941/42. **

Quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics as Number 193 in their Elite series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white and color photographs, black and white and color illustrations, and detailed captions. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-712-4. As the title states, the book examines and discusses World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics.


  • The historical background
  • German preparations pre-war
  • The parameters of combat: climate and terrain
  • different types of cold, different types of snow
  • The effects of wind

‘Motti’ Tactics: Finland, 1939-40
  • Reconnaissance and stopping
  • Attacking, and cutting
  • Isolation, and annihilation
  • Opportunism and planning
  • The value and limitations of skis

The Western Allies In Norway, 1940
  • Intervention in Finland planned, January – February 1940
  • Norway, April – June 1940
  • The British & US response

The Soviet Tactical Response: Combat In Winter (1941)
  • Movement
  • Digging-in
  • Concealment
  • Anti-tank defence
  • Patrolling
  • Route preparation
  • The attack
  • The defence
  • Study of War Experience (Autumn 1942)

Disaster On The Ostfront, 1941/42
  • Hitler’s overconfidence
  • Emergency clothing – ‘Winter Fritz’
  • Taschenbuch für den Winterkrieg (1942): Morale
  • The rasputitsa
  • Snow conditions – tactical lessons
  • Movement & orientation
  • Clearing routes
  • Railways
  • Clothing – padding & camouflage
  • Equipment
  • Shelters & food

German Ski Training & Tactics, 1942-44
  • Ski training
  • Tactical organization and movement
  • The fire-fight

Techniques Perfected, 1943-45
  • Great Britain: Operations in Snow and Mountain Warfare (1943)
  • German Mountain Warfare (US appreciation, 1944)

Select Bibliography


The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. Stephen Bull covers the World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics very well. The contents portion where I listed the contents of the book is accurate as to what is discussed. However to the contents list does not prepare you for the wealth of information provided. Stephen Bull goes into great detail in regards to various militaries and their winter warfare tactics, training, defenses, uniform types and purposes and much much more. Bull not only uses his personal research into the subject he also includes many personal accounts from various military members that took place in winter warfare and provided first-hand accounts of their experiences. Of particular interest to me was the fact that Steven Bull quotes and shares images from various military manuals from different militaries such as the United States, Great Britain and Germany. Anyone interested in World War II, military winter warfare and uniforms and weaponry will find this book very informative and interesting. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors throughout the book. 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.

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


There are a total of 33 black and white photographs and 2 color photographs shown throughout the book. The photographs range in subjects such as uniforms, small arms, winter equipment such as skis and snowshoes, defensive positions, larger weapons and armor, pack mules and horses and other such subjects in nice detail. The majority of the photographs are nice, clear, centered and focused images and are of a good quality. I haven’t seen a majority of the featured photographs before, if not all of them, and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over used photographs that many books tend to contain. The photographs will prove to be valuable to the scale figure modeler as well as anyone interested in World War II uniforms, weapons and winter warfare.

Some of the photographs that I found interesting were:

  • A color photograph of a pre-war German mountain unit soldier
  • World War One German Württemberg mountain gunners with a wooden-wheeled 7.5cm Gebirgskanone
  • Finnish troops on a motorcycle fitted with outrigger skis and a ski trailer
  • Red Army T-26 light tanks that had been captured by the Finnish military
  • A Red Army sapper using a mine detector that is attached to the barrel of his rifle
  • Two German soldiers using a 1936 model 5cm platoon light mortar
  • A camouflaged German Panzerwerfer 42
  • A pack mule carrying ammunition
  • A US tanker in a tanker uniform with an improvised mask sitting in the snow

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


There are 8 pages of color plates by illustrator Steve Noon which covers various uniforms and equipment from different militaries as well as tactics and defensive positions that are all very well done. There are well detailed captions that accompany the illustrations and point out various items of interest. The illustrations of the uniforms and equipment will prove to be valuable references to the scale figure modeler and military uniform and equipment enthusiast.

The color illustrations are of the following:

Plate A
Finnish ‘Motti’ Tactics, 1939-40

Plate B
British Winter & Mountain Equipment, 1940-43
1. Anti-aircraft sentry, Norwegian Expeditionary Force, 1940
2. Officer, Pioneer Corps; Iceland, 1942
3. Private, 52nd (Mountain) Division; UK, 1943

Plate C
Basic Mountain Tactics; Norway, 1940
1. Norwegian Army Infantryman
2. Ambush defence on mountain road
3. Norwegian machine-gun crew
4. Ascending platoon attack

Plate D
Mountain Defence, 1940-45
1. Insert 1 – 8mm Fita-Revelli M35
2. Insert 2 – 75/18 M34 mountain howitzer
3. Insert 3 – Sergeant-major of Alpini
4. Insert 4 – Reconnaissance patrol
5. Insert 5 - Red Army scout, 1942

Plate E
German Defensive Position; Russia, 1941-42
1. Battalion Position
2. Barbed wire defences
3. German soldier, 1941/42
4. German sentry, 1942
5. MG34 with snow board

Plate F
German Minor Ski Tactics, 1942-44
1. Double-sling method of securing rifle while skiing
2. Grenade throwing from kneeling position
3. Using two ski sticks as rifle rest
4. Using one ski stick as rifle rest
5. Using double ski stick support in kneeling position
6. Prone firing

Plate G
German Winter Defensive Position; Karelia, c. 1943

Plate H
Transport In Snow, 1942-45
1. German improvised snow-plough
2. Use of snow-ploughs
3. German pack pony, 1943-44
4. Improvised pack saddles
5. Russian ‘snow-boat’
There are also 16 black and white illustrations from various World War II military manuals. Some of the illustrations are of:

  • Finnish transport sled
  • British snowshoes
  • Tactical movement recommendations
  • Tank emplacement method to keep it free from ice
  • German method of deployment
  • German 37mm AT gun mounted on ski runners
  • German MG42 mounted on a pulk or Lapland wooden sled
  • Large ‘Greenland sledge’

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


Some of the various military manuals and publications from the World War II period that are quoted and have some of their illustrations reproduced in this volume are:

  • US Periodical Tactical and Technical Trends (January 1943)
  • British Handbook of Clothing and Equipment Required in Cold Climates (1941)
  • 1943 British manual Operations in Snow
  • German 1942 Pocketbook for Winter Warfare
  • British 1943 manual Mountain Warfare
  • Soviet Regulations for Combat in Winter
  • US Manual German Winter Warfare (1943)
  • US Intelligence Bulletin (October 1943)


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 photograph or illustration. The captions go into very specific detail as to specific individuals, soldier’s military affiliation, dates and locations, weapon types, uniforms and their specific purpose and other such pertinent information. As I read through the captions I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. As I stated before, 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. The captions themselves are basically miniature history lessons as they detailed what is happening, or happened, in the photographs and give specific detail as to the who, what, when, why and where. I was very impressed by Stephen Bull’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.


All in all I am impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many nice illustrations, photographs and well detailed captions. 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. The scale figure modeler as well as anyone interested in World War II uniforms and winter warfare will find this volume a useful reference source.


World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia
Squadron/Signal Publications, #6013
Published in 1977
Martin Windrow with color 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

Tank And AFV Crew Uniforms Since 1916
Martin Windrow
Color Illustrations by Gerry Embleton
Squadron/Signal Publications

US 10th Mountain Division in World War II
Men-at-Arms 482
Author: Gordon L. Rottman
Illustrator: Peter Dennis
Osprey Publications

The Winter War
Russia Against Finland
Campaign Book No 24
Richard W. Condon
Ballantine’s Illustrated History of the Violent Century

Search inside World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics at the Osprey Publishing web site:

World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics 1 Live links

Osprey Publishing also has World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics available in the following formats:

- ePub eBook
- PDF ebook

Look inside World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics at the Amazon web site:

World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics 2 Live links

Look inside World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics at the Amazon web site:

World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics 3 Live links

Highs: Well written and detailed text and captions Nice photographs and illustrations
Lows: None to mention
Verdict: An excellent reference book that is well researched and details various nations’ winter and mountain warfare during WWII in great detail.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-712-4
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95 / UK £11.99
  PUBLISHED: May 30, 2013

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.


I'd like this book just for the accounts of the Finnish-Soviet war.
JUN 03, 2013 - 05:56 AM

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