The Adolf Guns
      Author: Harald Isachsen, 2008. Reviewed by Dan Reedtz      
      Languages: Norwegian, English and German. 64 pages. ISBN 978-82-998024-0-6      

The Adolf Guns is a comprehensive booklet not unlike the Fortress series by Osprey. On sixty-four pages the reader is taken through the story of the mighty guns that once protected vital points along Hitler’s Atlantic Wall and of which now only the battery “Theo” at Trondenes near Harstad in Norway remains intact. The booklet is written by Harald Isachsen, Trondenes, whose knowledge of the battery and the guns reaches twenty years back.

Isachsen starts out with a brief update on the interwar situation in Germany and the factors that led to the Second World War, providing an account of Germany’s rearmament and the “Plan Z” that specified the ten year plan for the Kriegsmarine. He covers the actions and lack of success of the large surface vessels and the strain that the construction of heavy battleships did put on the wartime economy and resources. This is important to understand why such mastodon guns were produced even before the outbreak of the war – and then again never put into their intended use.

The booklet covers all the wartime installations of the 40.6 cm guns in Norway, France and Poland, and the author has visited all the places of which two are derelicts and two present day museums. The story of each battery is comprehensive and interesting, and it is obvious that a massive research has preceded the book. A vast amount of original wartime and present day photos illustrate the accounts and help the reader to understand the magnitude of the construction work.

Further helpful is an array of graphic plates, describing geography, gun range in relation to important harbors, and the layout of the Theo stronghold. Also the technical side of gun laying, observation posts, range finders and radar installations as well as the analog “computers” applied for calculation of target data is touched.

The technical data relating to the guns themselves and the types of ammunition applied is thoroughly covered and likewise the huge, self-contained bunkers serving as gun emplacements, ammunition storage and crew compartments and sporting food & water supplies, own power and heating plants and necessary amenities.

Finally, a chapter pays homage to the Russian POW’s that were used as slave labor by the Nazis and who - maltreated and insufficiently nourished - died by the hundreds under appalling conditions while working on these Atlantic Wall fortresses.

Harald Isachsen’s book is interesting, well-written and provides comprehensive knowledge about the 40.6 cm batteries, a knowledge that easily translates to i.e. the 38 cm batteries at Kristiansand and Hanstholm as these installations are in principal similar to the larger ones. Thus, by investing in one book, you have more or less the complete story of the most awesome guns on land in the Second World War.

Available now in English and Norwegian (and German in May 2009) at: http://www.adolfkanonen.com

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