The Bayonet

...Weapons 78, from Osprey Publishing

Title: The Bayonet
Author: Bill Harriman
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4728-4536-8

New in the Weapons series from Osprey Publishing is number 78, The Bayonet. An 80-page soft-cover book, once again packed with informative text and a marvellous collection of archive and modern images plus more of Osprey's popular artwork.
After the Introduction, the topic is spread over 3 main sections, Development, Use and Impact before reaching a final Conclusion. The story stretches over a wide time period, starting in the 1640s and going through the many variations on them up to the present day. Those early muskets, later rifles, had limited range/accuracy and long reload times, so close combat was a common result. By adding a simple Plug bayonet, which slotted into the barrel, it gave a soldier an extended reach that could also be used effectively against mounted troops. They moved on to Socket bayonets that could be fitted in readiness but left the rifle able to fire. Warfare over the years, especially within Europe, developed through the Napoleonic and then two World Wars, with the advent of automatic fire and the horse disappearing from the battlefield. It shows the many different styles of bayonets over the period, and how and why they developed in the ways that they did. There are simple spikes and larger, longer sword-bladed types. These days they are still used, but are more of a utility knife, many having the secondary use as wire cutters when combined with the associated scabbard.
An interesting read and well illustrated as I think we'd expect. Despite the dangers of knives used for criminal purposes that we hear about these days, there is a historical story here in their military use over several hundred years and of course very collectable by genuine enthusiasts/historians. I found this made really interesting reading, and indeed have a couple of different examples that are in the book within my own collection of de-activated firearms.
Thanks to Osprey for our review copy.