Book Review: OSS Weapons II, Second Edition
Reviewed by Jon Miller, MD

OSS Weapons II, second edition
Dr. John Brunner, Ph.D.
Phillips Publications, Williamstown, N.J.
Copyright 2005
ISBN 0-932572-43-X
Reviewed by Jon Miller MD
“During WW II, America formed its first formal intelligence agency which came to be known as the Office of Strategic Services or OSS... Part of the OSS was dedicated to the development and use of a wide range of clandestine and exotic weapons. Borrowing, improving and inventing new devices, the finest minds from the field(s) of science and technology worked around the clock to produce this vast array of devices... (many) would remain in use for decades to follow. This is the definitive historical study of those weapons developed and used by the OSS”

That dust jacket entry modestly introduces an epicurean feast of information surrounding the covert OSS weapons used in World War II.

Author, Dr. John Brunner, was a member of the OSS. He became familiar with many of the weapons during his OSS service behind Japanese lines in China. Following the war he accumulated a definitive collection of these clandestine weapons. Most of his collection now resides in the Special Forces Museum at Fort Bragg.

Through decades of research, Dr. Brunner became an internationally recognized authority and reliable consultant on weapons developed for or modified by the OSS. This manuscript is the culmination of his lifetime of research.

The scholarly second edition is composed of almost three hundred thoroughly illustrated pages of annotated research including detailed citations of the original information sources. Historians, researchers, authors and weapons aficionados will appreciate the copious detailed references to original sources regarding each device. Many of the references are newly declassified material from the OSS’s successor, the Central Intelligence Agency.

The body of the book is divided into four areas:

  • I) Personal Weapons and Equipment (Firearms, Edged Weapons, Other personal Weapons, and Special Equipment),
  • II)Sabotage Devices (Incendiary Devices, Demolition Devices, Contact Firing Devices and Delayed Action Firing Devices),
  • III) Communications Equipment (Radios, Press X and Gilhooley)
  • IV) Other Special Equipment which includes the marine equipment.
Of special interest to SAR readers are the sections dedicated to the quieter weapons including crossbows, compressed air devices, silenced pistols, rifles and submachine guns. The Liberator pistol, Marlin UD-42, M-3 grease gun and Sten also receive attention.

This volume is profusely illustrated with thirty-five pages of modern color photographs along with contemporary black and white and photos of weapons and personnel.

A six page appended bibliography suggests a reading list with critiques of information included in the suggested material.

OSS Weapons II is the most extensive and reliable reference book of weapons created for or adapted by the OSS in World War II available.

Phillips Publications
P.O. Box 168
Williamstown, N.J. 08094-0168
(609) 567-0695

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N10 (July 2008)
and was posted online on August 31, 2012


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