Red God of War is not surprisingly a book that focuses on the history and development of the Russian/Soviet Artillery Arm. It was written in 1985 by Chris Bellamy a Royal Artillery officer, it draws extensively on Russian language sources and is published and edited by Brasseys defence publishing. Red God of War is a comprehensive review of Soviet Artillery written by a proffesional military officer for a proffesional military audience, despite that it is a very readable book. The book covers its subject in four chapters the first two being:
- A Tradition of Excellence
- An Arm of Service
These chapters were of lesss interest to me and set the modern Arm of Service in the context of its historical development. They articulate the evolution of doctrine procedure and culture and the pre eminence of the Soviet Artillery Arm in the Soviet Armed forces as well as providing a view on the men that shaped it. The remaining two chapters are where the real meat of the book lies from the perspective of the modern wargamer, these are:
- The Deadliest Weapon
- Artillery in Modern War
The deadliest weapon examines the development of post war artillery systems in a conversational style that tries to look forward from 1985 to future developments and emerging concepts as well as covering current systems. For a book published in the 1980s this is a comprehensive and useful review of the subject although more and better data can be found in books published since the cold war ended. Having said that Bellamy provides useful and insightful comment into Soviet design clearly articulating the strengths of their systems.
The book covers the full range of Soviet Artillery capability including:
- Mortars and Gun/Mortars
- Guns and Howitzers
- Multiple Launched Rockets
- Free flight Rockets and Missiles
- Command and Control Systems
He also discusses the relative merits and uses of nuclear, chemical and conventional weapon systems although Air Defence Artillery is not covered. In his final chapter we get to the heart of the book which is an excellent review of Soviet Doctrine on the employment deployment and use of Artillery.
This section clearly sets out the concepts for the use of artillery in the different phases of support and looks at both offensive and defensive operations. This includes a detailed look at the different types of offensive operations and an informative if mathmatical review of Soviet Fire planning norms. More importantly he includes a detailed discusion on fire planning, types of fire and fire effect together with Soviet methods of allocating fire and fire units. He goes onto review the progression of an Artillery battle and sets it all within the context of the organisational structure of the Arm of service.
Bellamy unlike many authors starts to identifies the reasons for the varience in Soviet and NATO use of Artillery. That being a fundimental disparity in numbers at nearly all levels of command. The Soviets had sufficient for their purpose and NATO did not, requiering by necessity NATOs Artillery to be more flexible in its use.
As for value for money this is a difficult one, I picked my copy up for £35 and at this price and given my interest in fighting the Soviet Army with its attendent integrated Artillery, Air and Aviation support, it is a very useful text however this is not everyones cup of tea. The current going rate is £65 and at £65 its a harder decision or put another way there are a list of other books and toys I'd probably put the mony towards first.
If you are interested in Soviet Artillery deployment and want to understand it better and can pick up a copy for less than £30 I don't think you will be disapointed with what is an excellent contemporary treatise on the subject much referenced by a range of other authors including the US Armys Soviet Army Studies Office.
Red God of War: Soviet Artillery and Rocket Forces @ Amazon
Other Book Reviews:
The Essentials of Cold War Soviet Doctrine and Organisation