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Book Review
Zeppelin VS British Defence
Zeppelin VS British Home Defence 1915-18
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

This is a review by Randy L “Harv” Harvey of the Osprey Publishing LTD book Zeppelin VS British Home Defence 1915-18 by author Jon Guttman and illustrator Jim Laurier.

    When Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin's rigid airship LZ 1 flew over Lake Constance in 1900, it was the most advanced and impressive flying machine in the world. By 1914 Zeppelins were carrying passengers and being introduced into military service. In the first months of World War I, German airships were used in the reconnaissance role, but on 19 January 1915 Kaiser Wilhelm II authorized their use in bombing strategic targets in England. From then on, ‘Zeppelin' became synonymous with terror to the British populace, and indeed it’s effectiveness was more psychological than material. Still, those raids compelled the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service to embark on a programme of modernising their aerial defences, which would ultimately incorporate searchlights, anti-aircraft artillery and uniquely modified aeroplanes. Using specially commissioned artwork, contemporary photographs and first-hand accounts, this is the fascinating story of Britain's first Blitz. - Quoted from the back cover of the book.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released Zeppelin VS British Home Defense 1915-18 as Number 85 in their Duel series. It is a softcover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, informational charts, detailed captions, personal profiles, personal quotes and more. It has a 2018 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-2033-4.

    - Introduction
    - Chronology
    - Design and Development
    - Technical Specifications
    - The Strategic Situation
    - The Combatants
    - Combat
    - Statistics and Analysis
    - Aftermath
    - Further Reading
    - Index

The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. Author Jon Guttman details various WWI German Zeppelins, British Aircraft and World War I air combat over England during the first world war. Discussed are the materials used in construction of the Zeppelins as well as how the hydrogen was produced and also how the bombs were carried and released. I took particular interest in the details provided in regards to the crewmembers onboard the Zeppelins. Guttman discusses the crewmembers and their specific duties such as the sailmaker who was responsible for making inflight repairs to rips and holes in the skin/hull. Also detailed is the crewmembers cold weather clothing which was sometimes supplemented with crumpled up newspaper for extra insulation and the fur lined, rope soled boots with felt overshoes that were worn to help prevent sparks. Other crewmember details I found interesting were the rations the crew were given including their rum or brandy ration, lounge areas with hammocks and also discussed were the restroom devices provided. I also found it interesting that when the crewmembers took a break they were expected to do so by manning a machine gun station. Guttman discusses the history of Zeppelin LZ.1 being demonstrated and the military not being interested due to it only have a speed of 5.5 meters per second. Only after Zeppelins had logged 100,000 miles and transported 37,250 civilian passengers without incident did the military take interest. Also included are six profiles of selected individual Zeppelin histories. As well as detailed Zeppelin information Guttman also covers the British side of the conflict by discussing specific pilots, the military unit they were assigned to, the type of aircraft they piloted and their successes and tactics used by them. Also discussed are the various aircraft used and their successes and faults and numbers produced and also the weaponry carried and used against the Zeppelins. Well detailed information is provided on the weaponry used against the Zeppelins and their successes such as the Ranken Dart, Pomeroy PSA MkII explosive ammunition for the Lewis Gun, Brock incendiary ammunition for the Lewis Gun and the wing mounted French Le Prieur Rocket. Jon Guttman details specific combat incidents with excellent play by play details and provides the British pilots name and the type of aircraft he was piloting and also the specific Zeppelin involved and the captain of the airship as well as the location of the fight, the Zeppelins target and the outcome of the clash. And by providing quotes from both German and British individuals it helps add a personal feel to the various incidents. The text is written in an easy to follow and informative manner which makes it interesting to read and does not become dry or too technical for the reader. 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 German Zeppelins, British Aircraft and air combat over England during World War I their personal library 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.

There is a total of 46 black and white photographs and 6 color photographs. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed period of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are several years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. Author Jon Guttman stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the WWI German Zeppelin, WWI British Aircraft and World War I air combat over England enthusiast due to the details they contain.

Some of the various Zeppelin types, aircraft and weaponry shown and discussed are:
    - Avro 504 aircraft
    - SS-Type airship
    - 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun
    - BE 2C aircraft
    - ‘R’ Class Zeppelin
    - 13lb 9cwt Anti-Aircraft Gun
    - AD Scout aircraft
    - ‘X’ Class Zeppelin
    - 0.303in Lewis Gun
    - Port Victoria PV 7 Grain Kitten aircraft
    - ‘P’ Class Zeppelin
    - Goldschmidt Incendiary Bomb
    - Supermarine PB31 Night Hawk aircraft
    - ‘V’ Class Zeppelin
    - Sopwith 2F1 ‘Ships Camel’ aircraft

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

There are 8 color illustrations by illustrator Jim Laurier. The illustrations are of:

    A. Front cover of the book. (See attached scan)

    - Zeppelin L.32 under Oblt-z-S Werner Petersen caught in a spotlight and being attacked by 2Lt Frederick Sowery piloting a BE 2c over Tilbury, England.

    - Damaged Zeppelin L.33 under Kptltn der R Aloys Böcker being attacked by 2Lt Albert de Bathe Brandon piloting a BE 2c over Chelmsford, England.

    B. ‘R’ Class Zeppelin (See attached scan)

    C. BE 2C aircraft (See attached scan)

    D. Zeppelin Armament – Displays the way that the Kaiserliche Marine arranged three water cooled 8mm Maxim machineguns for defense. The caption also discussed typical bomb loads carried by the Zeppelins.

    E. Ranken Dart – A British air dropped anti-Zeppelin explosive device.

    F. ‘R’ Class Zeppelin Gondola – A two-page illustration of the interior of the gondola. Provided with the drawing is a technical data chart, as well as a key, which details 28 different areas of the gondola which are pointed out in the drawing.

    G. BE 2c Cockpit – A detailed illustration of the cockpit. Provided with the drawing is a technical data chart, as well as a key, which details 26 different areas of the gondola which are pointed out in the drawing. (See attached scan)

    H. Engaging The Enemy – a cockpit view of 2Lt Ian Vernon Pyott, piloting a BE 2c, attacking Zeppelin L. 34 under Kptnltn der R Max Dietrich near West Hartlepool, England.

    I. A two-page illustration of ‘X’ Class Zeppelin L.70 under Kptltn Johann von Lossnitzer being attacked and damaged by Major Robert Leckie piloting a DH 4 aircraft off the Norfolk, England coast.

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

The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to the Zeppelin and aircraft type shown, dates, locations, names of individuals and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Jon Guttman’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.

There are 6 informational charts included in this volume and they are:
    - Equivalent ranks and abbreviations of the German and British militaries
    - Airship Class comparison between ‘P’ (LZ.38) and ‘R’ (L.30)
    - Airship Class comparison between ‘V’ (L.53) and ‘X’ (L.70)
    - BE 2c – specifications for the aircraft featuring engine size, armament, etc.
    - British airmen credited with Zeppelin aerial victories
    - Leading Zeppelin Commanders

There are two personal profiles included in this volume. They feature:

Horst Freiherr Treusch Von Buttlar-Brandenfels - a German general known for commanding several airships during World War I, including the most successful Zeppelin of the war, the L 30.

William Leefe Robinson - the first British pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain during the First World War.

There is one color map included in this volume. It details Western Front German Zeppelin bases and British Home Defence aerodromes from 1915-18.

As with the other Osprey Publishing weapons series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up detailed subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details various German Zeppelins, British Aircraft and air combat over England during World War I. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing 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.


UK £12.99 / US $20.00 / CAN $27.00


Feldluftsschiffer – The German Balloon Corps and Aerial Reconnaissance
Tankograd – World War One No. 1008
Imperial German Army Weapons And Soldiers Of The Great War 1914-1918
Oliver Richter (with Jochen Vollert Collection)

The World War One Source Book
Philip J. Haythornthwaite
Arms and Armour

Arms and Uniforms The First World War Part 1
Liliane and Fred Funcken
Ward Lock Limited – London

True Stories Of The First World War
Paul Dowswell
Scholastic Inc.

The Usborne Introduction To The First World War
Ruth Brocklehurst & Henry Brook
Scholastic Inc.

The American Heritage History of World War I
Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall
American Heritage/Bonanza Books

German Machine Guns of World War I
Stephen Bull
Osprey Publishing

Zeppelin VS British Home Defence 1915-18 on the Osprey web site:


Zeppelin VS British Home Defence 1915-18 on the Amazon web site:

https://www.amazon.com/Zeppelin-British-Home-Defence-1915-18/dp/1472820339/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520552037&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=zeppelin vs british home defense 1915-18

Zeppelin VS British Home Defence 1915-18 is also available as a Kindle version on the Amazon web site:


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.
Highs: Well written text and captions. Subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: None.
Verdict: Another excellent volume in Osprey Publishing’s Duel series. Definitely beneficial to the WWI German Zeppelin, British Aircraft and World War I air combat and World War I enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-4728-2033-4
  PUBLISHED: Jun 17, 2018

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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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 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Interesting subject. I am surprised that they used so many BE 2c aircraft. The Rankin Dart is an amazing idea, too.
JUN 17, 2018 - 11:24 AM
Thank you for getting this posted for me Fred. I do appreciate it. I thought that the Rankin Dart was a pretty cool idea for it's time. I always think of the expression...."Necessity is the mother of invention"...when I read about how new weapons had to be created to deal with a new foe. This is a very nice book with a lot of useful interesting information in it. Thanks again, Randy
JUN 20, 2018 - 12:30 PM

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