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Found 35 results

  1. The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet: From Mutiny to Scapa Flow Nicholas Jellicoe Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Books, 2019 16 x 24 cm format, hardback, 351 pages 38 Color and B&W illustrations, bibliography, sources, appendices, end notes, index. MSRP £25.00 ISBN: 978 1 5267 5458 5 Verdict: A great read about a fascinating Great War footnote. Most of us probably know the larger story. Between the launching of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 and the start of World War I, the naval establishments of Britain and Germany had engaged in a high-stakes arms race, each seeking to build the magic number of ever-larger and more powerful warships that would either achieve parity (in the case of Germany) or maintain naval supremacy (in the case of the Royal Navy). Of course, when war finally did break out, the two fleets of battleships met each other in a major engagement only once, and then rather briefly and indecisively. As a consequence, when Germany ultimately surrendered, she still possessed a large and powerful fleet, which dutifully sailed off into internment in Scapa Flow and was later scuttled. But as Paul Harvey used to say, do you know the rest of the story? The rest of that fascinating story is told in beautiful and compelling detail in Nicholas Jellicoe’s The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet (and yes, he is a grandson of that Jellicoe). Jellicoe’s work covers a surprisingly long period of time, beginning with the birth of the German Navy in the late 19th century and continuing right on down to the present day. The book can be roughly divided into three parts: the events leading up to the scuttling of the Hochseeflotte on 21 June 1919, the drama of the scuttling itself, and finally the repercussions that followed. Jellicoe does an exceptional job at melding two fascinating narratives. The first is the broader geopolitical context that lead Germany to first build the High Seas Fleet, then afterwards to wield it as timidly as she did when push finally came to shove, and finally, after the surrender, to entertain the belief that her fleet would eventually be returned to her. Within this larger context, Jellicoe brings to life the various dramatis personae of the story, from the central figure of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter right on down to the local Orkney Islanders who witnessed the astonishing events of 21 June. After chronicling von Reuter’s plans to scuttle the fleet should he catch wind of any allied effort to seize it, the details of the scuttling are presented in great detail, beginning with von Reuter’s decision to execute the plan, to separate descriptions of the actions aboard each capital ship. The human drama of the clashes that ensued between the Germans as they abandoned their ships and their rather confused (with good reason, obviously) captors adds a heart-wrenching footnote to the closing chapters of the Great War. The final chapters cover the aftermath of the events at Scapa Flow, whose effects were far-reaching, particularly the perceived need to head off another naval arms race that led to the Washington Naval Treaty. Von Reuter, held until 1920 by the English, was considered a hero at home, and his sailors were said to have contributed to the sense of pride later felt by the High Seas Fleet’s successor, the Kriegsmarine. The waters of Scapa Flow were littered with the wrecks of dozens of warships, and the fascinating tale of their salvage has its own chapter devoted to it. Ironically, the few ships left unsalvaged -- first feared, then neglected and finally sunk – are now protected by British law. Only recreational divers can now gaze on what remains of the High Seas Fleet. Jellicoe’s fine written account is not the only selling point of this book. The text is accompanied by a great selection of photos and paintings, and the appendices include a wealth of information on the interred fleet. Every year we set aside November 11th to remember the conclusion of the Great War, but The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet reminds us that the war didn’t end on that day for everyone – nor did the drama. Highly recommended! CDC
  2. In Action with the Destroyers 1939-1945: The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN Edited by Anthony Cumming Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Maritime, 2017 16 x 24 cm format, hardback, 208 pages 30 B&W photos, end notes, bibliography, sources. MSRP £19.99 ISBN: 978 1 52671 849 5 Summary: An enjoyable memoir. One could scarcely find a better man than Alec Dennis to write up an overview of life at sea in the Royal Navy during World War II. Dennis‘s memoir In Action with the Destroyers is a refreshingly brisk telling of his time served in destroyers, written in an engaging style and sprinkled with bits of characteristic British humor in the face of adversity. Interwoven with his terse accounts of his ships in action, Dennis gives wonderful insights into the tedium of wartime routines, the hazards of sailing in hazardous weather while under constant threat of danger, and snapshots of time ashore in virtually every far-flung corner of the British Empire. Dennis served in destroyers for the duration of the war, and he experienced a lot of action at sea: Arctic convoys, the evacuations of Greece and Crete, and numerous battles including Cape Matapan, North Cape, the taking of Diego Suarez, and Operation Overlord, just to name a few. He was aboard the G-class destroyer HMS Griffin when war broke out in 1939, and he stayed with her until 1943 – nearly four years. During those four years, Dennis observed first-hand some of the darkest days of the RN, when the service was stretched to its limits against threats from the combined might of the surface and aerial units of Germany and Italy. He was also around, happily, to observe the changing of the tide as Britain improved its tactics, weapons, and ships, gradually wearing down her adversaries. The gradual changeover from continuous defense to unrelenting offense can be seen, for instance, in Dennis’s starkly contrasting descriptions of the harrowing actions around Crete in May 1941 with the anticlimactic response of the Germans to Overlord three years later. In 1943, Dennis transferred to the S-class destroyer HMS Savage. Highlights from this period include the ship’s encounter with DKM Scharnhorst at North Cape, screening the invasion fleet for Overlord, and accepting the surrender of German forces at Kristiansand in Norway, where Dennis had the opportunity to examine some of the newest Type XXI and XXIII U-boats. In June of 1945, Dennis was given command of the Hunt-class destroyer HMS Tetcott. Scheduled to deploy to the Far East, Tetcott was still refitting at Gibraltar when the war ended, bringing Dennis’s naval career to a close as well. As readers, we can be thankful that he both survived the war, when so many did not, and that he subsequently proved to be a gifted writer. His book, coupled with editor Anthony Cumming’s included historical notes, also serves as a good overview of the RN’s actions throughout the conflict. In Action with the Destroyers is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of the RN during WWII. CDC
  3. Allied Coastal Forces of World War II, Vol. II: Vosper MTBs and US Elcos By John Lambert and Al Ross Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing, 2019 11.25 x 9.5 inch format, hardback, 256 pages B&W photos, line drawings, bibliography. MSRP £40.00 ISBN: 978 1 5267 4755 6 Summary: Great book! First of all, this book has a really long title, so henceforth we will refer to it as ACF2. Second, the authors of this fine volume should not be strangers to anyone who has been building ship models for any length of time. The late John Lambert was a world-class technical illustrator, and his drawings and plans have been serving as the basis for scratch builds and super-detailing for decades. Al Ross is of course one of the in-house designers for BlueJacket Shipcrafters, and his designs have a well-deserved reputation for historical accuracy. This edition of ACF2 is a reprint of the 1990 original, itself a companion volume to ACF1, which covered Fairmiles and US subchasers. The printing, binding, and dust jacket art are top-notch and what we have come to expect from Seaforth. It is safe to safe that if you are a builder of either of the types covered by ACF2, then you will want to have this book as a reference. The keyed drawings are crisp, extremely detailed, and plentiful throughout the book, covering every possible aspect of construction from hull framing to armaments and equipment. The relevant drawings are usually accompanied by photos of the item depicted. Both are interwoven with a rich text that details how the boats were specifically designed with their intended use in mind, including, for example, a discussion of the particular challenges of designing a boat meant to operate at high speeds. Beyond the technical aspects of the boats taken as a whole, additional sections are devoted to camouflage (color line drawings of color schemes are included, labeled with Admiralty and USN official colors), weapons and mounts, machinery, lists of every Vosper and Elco boat built along with its final disposition, and a list of surviving boats. In this 256-page volume, there are literally only 15 pages that don’t have at least one (usually more) drawing, photo, list, or some combination of the three on them. It’s definitely worthy of its coffee-table size footprint and is as interesting to casually flip through as much as it is a veritable trove of information on these sometime overlooked contributors to the allied war effort. If you are a serious modeler or just a fan of naval small craft, you will doubtlessly be pleased to add this work to your collection. CDC
  4. The Last British Battleship: HMS Vanguard, 1946-1960 - Pen & Sword Books Ltd Company: Pen & Sword Books Ltd Author: R. A. Burt Kit No: ISBN-10: 1526752263, ISBN-13: 978-1526752260 Pages: 128 Retail Price: £ 28.- Available here: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Last-British-Battleship-Hardback/p/16234 The ninth HMS Vanguard, bearing one of the most illustrious names in the Royal Navy with honours from the Armada to Jutland, was the last and largest of Britain s battleships and was commissioned in 1946. Her design evolved from of the King George V class and incorporated much of the fully developed design for the two battleships, Lion and Temeraire, that were laid down in 1939 but never completed. At 813ft length overall and 42,300 tons, she was the last battleship to be built for the Royal Navy and the only ship of her class. She was built during the Second World War and incorporated existing twin 15in mountings, and was part of the Royal Navy s response to the combined and increasing number of German and Japanese battleships in the early 1940s. She was immediately recognisable by her transom stern and high flared bow and had fine sea keeping ability. Her appearance after the end of hostilities, however, and her huge crew requirements proved a conundrum for the Royal Navy, her most significant role being that of Royal Yacht during the royal family s tour of South Africa in 1947. She was broken up at Faslane in 1960. In this new book by R A Burt her design, construction and career are all covered. Armour, machinery, power plants and weaponry are examined in detail and the author has produced some 35 superb plans, profiles and other line drawings for which he is renowned. The text is further enhanced by the addition of some 80 colour and black and white photographs from his collection. His earlier three volumes are regarded as definitive works on the subject of British battleships before 1945; with this new book he finally completes the story of the Dreadnought era, bringing to life the last of a magnificent type of vessel of which the world will not see again. More information about the Vanguard here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Vanguard_(23) Pages: 128 Photos: 150 Folded Plan: 1 Additional 35 diagrams by the author himself, ranging from cross-section views, plans of each superstructure deck, sketches of appearance changes, and diagrams of weapons and fire control systems. Conclusion Pretty solid reference book. The author is known of profund knowledge about british battleships. Lot's of information on the ship's design, weapons, armor, refits, and service career, along with the Royal Cruise of 1949. Every model builder who is interested in detailed information about the Vanguard ships will enjoy this book. My sincere thanks go to Pen and Sword for sending this book for review here on Model Ship World. To buy, ask your favorite dealer.
  5. THE COLOUR BLUE IN HISTORIC SHIPBUILDING: From Antiquity to Modern Times Joachim Muellerschoen 2019 19 cm x 27 cm format, 200 pages 190 illustrations, mostly color SRP: 76.80 € Okay, raise your hand if, like me, your attention to the matter of which shade of blue to slap on a model is or was heavily influenced by whatever shade you happened to have on hand. Anybody? Well, perhaps I'm not quite as inattentive to detail as I've just suggested, but this book did enlighten me to the fact that there is blue, and then there is historically correct blue. There are several things that you will notice about this nifty little volume when you first lay hold of it. First is that the title runs from bottom-to-top along the spine in the German fashion, which makes sense since the author is German. Happily for all of us English speakers, the English version of The Color Blue in Historic Shipbuilding has been nicely edited by native English-speaker (well, Canadian -- close enough 😉 ) David Antscherl, so it reads very well. Upon flipping the book open to any page, one notices a wealth of illustrations, consisting in the main of various models, paintings, full-size vessels, and artifacts that demonstrate the use of blue down through the ages. If you turn to the back of the book, you'll find eighteen pages of references, which show that Dr. Muellerschoen is no slouch when it comes to doing thorough research, and the depth and breadth of the information he provides is proof of that. And finally, something that is not immediately obvious is that this very nice looking book is self-published and shows the high quality of product that is now possible when choosing this particular publishing option. The title of the book is perhaps a little misleading, but not in a bad way. The discussion is not strictly limited to the use of blue in shipbuilding, but covers a number of related topics as well, beginning first of all with historical context. I found it particularly interesting to learn that some cultures had no word for blue, or else lumped it in with green and/or gray. Today of course we associate blue with royalty, but Dr. Muellerschoen shares some fascinating insight on how very much differently blue was viewed, figuratively, by ancient cultures, citing diverse examples from Egypt to East Asia and points in between. The history of blue is followed by the science of blue, with particular attention given to the sources of various blue pigments. It's very interesting to learn some of the history of these pigments and goes some ways toward explaining why we see particular shades of blue in different time periods and locations. Dr. Muellerschoen also devotes page space to describing how blue was used in applications other than shipbuilding such as architecture and various forms of art. Not surprisingly, as Dr. Muellerschoen points out, blue and other colors were used in ways that might seem rather strange to our western notions of color, shade, and hue. The bulk of the book, as the title suggests, is devoted to an overview of blue in shipbuilding, from ancient times to 'modern', i.e. the early 19th century. This survey covers not only European conventions but those of other cultures as well, including examples from the Mediterranean, the Far East and elsewhere. There is something of interest here for builders of just about every kind of wooden ship construction out there. The photos in this section are a wealth of images of modern and contemporary models, preserved and reconstructed ships, and a good number and variety of contemporary paintings. This book is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to read. When the publication of this book was first announced, there were a few people who wondered aloud just how much could be written about such a seemingly narrow and esoteric subject. Folks needn't have worried -- Dr. Muellerschoen has produced a very engaging and attractive volume that is deserving of a place in any nautical history buff's library. Thanks to Dr. Muellerschoen for providing this copy for review. To purchase, head over to http://www.modellbau-muellerschoen.de/buch-en.htm. CDC
  6. BATTLECRUISER REPULSE: DETAILED IN THE ORIGINAL BUILDER'S PLANS John Roberts Seaforth Publishing, 2019 hardback, 25 cm x 29 cm format 160 pages SRP: £30.00 I can't speak for everyone, but I have a tendency (and not a good one) to think of the state of things as they existed more than a generation or so ago as something akin to medieval. After all, in the U.S. of 1916, the Ford Model T was a state-of-the-art automobile, and airplanes were still flimsy contraptions made of wood and cloth -- how primitive! But on the high seas, the capital ships of the various maritime powers had reached a high degree of development and sophistication that other weapons of war had not yet reached. Battlecruiser Repulse is a fascinating glimpse into one such ship. The absolute star of this volume are the color reproductions taken from the original builder's plans for Repulse housed in the NMM. The sweet thing is that all of these plans are available for viewing in this book for only £30.00 -- I can only imagine what this complete set would cost if you ordered copies direct from the NMM. The various views throughout the book are annotated with a wealth of commentary on various aspects of the ship's construction, in addition to more comprehensive sections of text that describe first the overall design, then focus on the particulars of internal layout, armament, fire control, protection, and machinery. Additional sections discuss the various additions, modifications, and refits that occurred during Repulse's nearly 26 years of service. In essence, the book actually covers two sets of plans, since both the as-fitted plans of 1916 and the post-refit plans of 1936 are included. Let's take a look inside. The longitudinal profile is broken down into smaller sections for discussion, and the locations of stations are indicated. Station plans at each indicated section are shown and given additional treatment. Naturally, deck plans are included, and deck details, structures, and furnishings are discussed. This is true not just for the main deck but for every deck on the ship, such as the platform deck and hold As you would expect from builder's plans, these are incredibly detailed drawings and show just how incredibly complex a fighting ship in the Dreadnought-era had become. It's hard to imagine that only just 50 years previous to the launch of Repulse, CSS Virginia had slugged it out with USS Monitor in the first combat between armored steamships. It goes pretty much without saying that anyone interested in super-detailing a model of Repulse will want to get their hands on this book (and as of 21 Jul 2019 it is on sale at Seaforth's website). Not only is there an astonishing wealth of detail in the plan's I've already shown you -- there's also priceless bits for modelers such as a rigging plan, the answer to the eternal question: Where are the attachment points for all these silly guy wires? But I've saved the best for last. The pièce de résistance is a four-page (four!) foldout of the 1936 profile drawing. It is pure eye-candy, and sadly I can't fit the whole thing into one picture, so you'll have to get your own copy (the cover art is taken from the same drawing, so that will give you an idea). On the front side of this foldout is a three-page view of the 1916 as-fitted plan; on the backside is the three-page 1936 rig plan. We all know that the whole battlecruiser concept ultimately proved to be deeply flawed, as was demonstrated by the sinking of Repulse in late 1941, but that's not the focus of this book. What is the focus of this book, and one that it presents well, is that Repulse was a marvel of naval engineering, a science far advanced in comparison to contemporary air or armor designs of 1916. It astonishes me to think that this metal behemoth with her 30 knot speed and 15-inch guns was built at a time when my ancestors were still farming with draft animals (not an exaggeration). But this book is also a fine testament to the skills and abilities of the draftsmen who produced the various drawings. These men could scarcely have imagined that the work they produced in response to the pressing needs of the Great War would still be marveled at over 100 years later. Thankfully, with books like this one, the marveling can be done much more readily and at reduced expense. Further volumes in this series will doubtlessly be eagerly anticipated. CDC Thanks to Seaforth Publishing for providing this copy for review. To purchase directly from the publisher, click the link in the title above.
  7. THE ROYAL NAVY 1793-1800: BIRTH OF A SUPERPOWER Mark Jessop Pen and Sword, 2018 16 cm x 24 cm format, 158 pages 17 B&W illustrations, 10 maps SRP £19.99 I'm going to be honest -- I really wanted to like this book. Truly, I did. After all, what's not to like about the Royal Navy at the turn of the 19th century? The Royal Navy of Nelson at the height of his career, epic sea battles, etc., etc. And at times, this book is actually pretty good. I learned some interesting stuff, especially about the economics of maintaining Britain's fleet and the run-up to the Battle of the Nile. But, let's backtrack a little. First, let's start with the structure of the narrative. It's broken into eight chapters, and each chapter is built around the contemporary point of view of a historical character, e.g. a schoolmaster, a merchant, a petty officer, etc. Each of the eight chapters deals with a particular facet of the Royal Navy's history. For example, one chapter deals with the epic costs of Britain's defense of her maritime interests. There's a lot of data on rising shipbuilding costs, total annual expenditures year-over-year, info on seaman's wages, and the like -- pretty good stuff, actually. Another chapter focuses on the need for England to maintain the freedom of her sea lanes. One chapter focuses on naval activities in the Mediterranean, another solely on events in the Caribbean. Individually, some of these chapters are good reading. But the book fell flat for me on several fronts. First, I didn't care for the historical perspective provided by the contemporary characters. They just didn't add anything for me. I think this was an attempt by the author to do something a little different from other historical narratives, but I didn't find it particularly effective. Second, since the book's subtitle is "Birth of a Superpower," one would think that the birth of the Royal Navy as a superpower would be a unifying theme. But I didn't find the book to be a unified, cohesive narrative. Instead, it was a lot of bits and parts, some better than others. This feeling of lack of unity was exacerbated by the narrative having no linear timeline -- there was a lot of skipping around from early bits to later bits, to bits in between, and back again. Not my cup of tea. Lastly, the individual theaters of action were treated separately, i.e. English Channel in one chapter, Mediterranean in another, Caribbean in another. An upshot of this method of treatment is that it's difficult to see how each theater worked in concert with the others to contribute to the overall "rise" of the RN. Lastly, to conclude this review, I have to wonder aloud about the particular time interval selected by the author as the bookends for any RN rise to superpower status. It seems to me that anyone covering events up to 1800 would have done well to toss in events up to 1805 too, i.e. Trafalgar. If the Nile in 1798 made the point of England's naval superiority over France, wasn't Trafalgar the final exclamation point on that statement? Just asking. So, in summary -- good book in spots, a little lacking when taken as a whole. Still, at only GBP 19.99, it won't break the bank if you decide to add this one to your collection. CDC Thanks to Pen & Sword Books for providing this review copy. To order, see link in title above.
  8. "Seahawk of the Confederacy" by R. Thomas Campbell is the biography of naval officer Lt. Charles W. Read. It records his service in the confederate navy and his being stationed aboard a number of vessels during the war. I found the work to be an enjoyable read which was full of information about that time period in our nations history.
  9. The U-Boat Commanders - Knight's Cross Holders 1939-1945 Company: Pen & Sword Books Ltd Author: Jeremy Dixon Kit No: ISBN 978 1 52671 873 0 Pages: 323 Retail Price: £ 25.- ($49.95 U.S) This is a very detailed book a very specific subject which follows the biographic approach often seen in such reference books. It provides detailed career information on every U-boat commander granted the Knights Cross and on average covers two pages worth of detailed information on each. This ranges from full career details to their actual combat record and command histories. Finally it also covers (should the officer have survived the war) briefer details of post-war jobs and events. It is is not a book for a casual reader to dive into but would appeal to anyone with an interest in the German Navy, the submarine/convoy war and German Naval operations especially as the information contained within would be difficult to obtain elsewhere. It is the sort of book where you either utilise it for information on a specific officer or interest (or officers if researching a particular submarine or sinking) or read perhaps an officer a day. It does provide some fascinating insights into the men who commanded these ships and the German Navy as a whole plus shows some of the difficulty the U-Boats operated under during the second world war. Example pages
  10. German Battleship Helgoland: as detailed in the original builders' plans - Pen & Sword Books Ltd Company: Pen & Sword Books Ltd Author: Aidan Dodson Kit No: ISBN-10: 1526747596, ISBN-13: 978-1526747594 Pages: 144 Retail Price: £ 24.- Available here: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/German-Battleship-Helgoland-Hardback/p/16022 Alongside its incomparable archive of British warship plans, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich also holds a selection of drawings from foreign sources. Among the gems of this collection are a number of German warships dating from the First World War era. These are official plans, acquired by the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control as part of the peace treaty, and very similar in style, detail and draughtsmanship to Royal Navy ‘as fitted’ general arrangements, including the use of coloured line and washes. The very best of these, in terms of the completeness of coverage and the visual impact of the drawings, relates to the battleship SMS Helgoland, launched in 1909. The name-ship of the second class of dreadnoughts designed by the Germans, she was a big advance over the earlier Westfalen class, having 12in guns that matched those of her British opponents. She served in the High Seas Fleet throughout the war, fought at Jutland, and was ceded to Britain as part of the peace terms – which is probably why the plans are at Greenwich – and was broken up in 1924. This book is the latest in a series based entirely on original draughts which depict famous warships in an unprecedented degree of detail. Using the latest scanning technology to make digital copies of the highest quality, it reproduces complete sets in full colour, with many close-ups and enlargements that make every aspect clear and comprehensible. Extensive captions point the reader to important features to be found in the plans, and an introduction covers the background to the design. The result is a novel form of anatomy that will be a revelation to any warship enthusiast. SMS Helgoland launched in 1909 was the name-ship of the second class of dreadnoughts designed by the Germans. She was a big advance over the earlier Westfalen class having 12-inch guns that matched those of her British opponents. She served in the High Seas Fleet throughout the war fought at Jutland and was ceded to Britain as part of the peace terms. Conclusion Although there are several books about the large ships of the Imperial Navy, there is none that describes the internal structure of these ships more than superficially. This new book from the series "Detailed in the Original Builders' Plans" is not error-free, but it contributes substantially to the solution of this problem. There is a brief introduction describing the ship's design, armor, armament, machinery, and career. Most of the book, however, consists almost entirely of (original) plans and drafts. Similar to the famous British "admiralty draughts", most of these plans are in full colour. This book contains plans for each deck, 25 cross-sections through the hull and a four-sided longitudinal section to fold out. These are complemented by a series of traditional plans depicting the ground plans of the armor and conning tower layouts, pumping and flooding arrangements, fire control circuits, coaling rig, boat stowage, the forward capstans, and the distinctive kingposts of the ship. Finally, there is a color profile of the SMS Posen and plans for the hull midships structure and the double bottom. Considering that the plans are almost 110 years old, most of them look very good. Of course, they are all in German, but English translations for all keys are printed. The level of detail is somewhat uneven. While many of the traditional plans are exceptionally detailed, especially the pump and fire protection plans, the "as fitted" plans are not as precise. Since most plans were printed on a scale of 1:100 or 1:50, and were reduced quite a bit according to the pages, strong glasses or magnifying glasses can't hurt. Every model builder who is interested in detailed information about the imperial German large ships will enjoy this book. My sincere thanks go to Pen and Sword for sending this book for review here on Model Ship World. To buy, ask your favorite dealer.
  11. LARGE SCALE WARSHIP MODELS: from Kits to Scratch Building by Kerry Jang Seaforth Publishing, 2019 19.5 x 25.3 cm format 110 pages color illustrations Suggested retail: GBP 25.00 Verdict: Great tips -- and not just for large scale models! I have known of Kerry Jang for many years and knew that he is a modeler of no mean skills, so I was eager to have a look at his new book, Large Scale Warship Models. Happily, it turns out that Kerry is not only a great modeler but has some pretty good writing chops, too. So in addition to the copious amounts of eye candy present in its pages, Large Scale Warship Models is also a pleasure to read. Kerry's writing style is clear and touched with occasional dashes of humor. I especially appreciated his comment about the "sweet talking, gifts and treats along with the occasional pout" needed to get one his enormous models accepted as home decor. I actually find the title of the book slightly misleading. It is indeed about large scale warship models, but of course many large scale kits exist for non-warships as well, and Kerry's methods are equally valid for both kinds of models. Many of the techniques that Kerry describes would also be just as useful for small scale models as for large ones, things such as scratch building with styrene or airbrushing techniques. The title also doesn't say anything about RC, but there is an entire chapter on selecting and installing RC gear. So there is really a little something for everyone in Large Scale Warship Models. Kerry leaves no stone unturned on his subject. After an introduction on the subject of large scale models, including pros and cons of building in large scale, the rest of the book includes chapters on kit reviews, tools, construction, fittings, painting, and a chapter on "Final Assembly and Finishing Touches" that covers rigging, decals, and displays. Naturally, since the book is about building large scale models, the lion's share of page space is devoted to that aspect of the topic. Individual construction chapters are devoted to the hull and running gear, underdecks and decks, the aforementioned installation of RC gear, superstructures and deck houses, and lastly fittings and other details The inclusion of 187 photos in the main body of text makes Kerry's descriptions easy to grasp, and the book also includes a gallery featuring several of Kerry's exceptional models. A short list of relevant suppliers and publications wraps things up. As stated previously, I think that builders in any scale would find much useful material in Large Scale Warship Models. I simply don't have enough space in my small house to display anything like one of Kerry's models, but I did find myself repeatedly thinking as I read, "Hmm -- that's a good idea. I'll have to remember that one!" I think that interested readers who decide to purchase this book will find themselves frequently thinking the same thing, even if their models are only of the small scale variety. CDC
  12. RAIDERS FROM THE SEA John Lodwick Greenhill Books paperback, 240 pages 23.3 x 15.5 cm format 35 black & white illustrations Suggested retail: GBP 14.99 Verdict: A page-turner, but with a caveat. "Half a mile offshore the officer made a prearranged signal with a torch. He sighted the submarine on his starboard bow. The two men boarded her from the gun-platform. The canoe was passed inboard and dismantled. The submarine got underway. Some ham sandwiches remained in the ward-room. The canoeists had eaten five or six of these when the officer was called for from the bridge. He mounted the steel ladder in time to see a train entering the far end of the tunnel. Fifty seconds later a large flash was visible. This flash was followed by an explosion." So ended a successful mission carried out by men of the Special Boat Service on the night of 22 June 1941. I suspect that far more people are aware of the exploits of the SAS in North Africa than of those of their naval counterparts in the SBS. But the ranks of the SBS were filled with the same sort of daring individuals, willing to carry out feats of sabotage on the fringes of the Axis empire along the Mediterranean coastline. Raiders from the Sea chronicles their activities. Originally published in 1947, Raiders reads much like a spy novel, which is not surprising considering that its author, John Lodwick, was a successful novelist after the war. Lodwick served in the SBS and thus had first-hand knowledge of its operations and the often colorful characters that carried them out. In Raiders he has created a rather engrossing narrative, although here and there it is sometimes difficult to figure out what is meant exactly by the period language, sprinkled as it is with naval terms and British colloquialisms. Nevertheless, I think that fans of naval history, especially those that are interested in commando-style raids and littoral operations, will find this book quite interesting. There is one feature of this book that I find just a little disappointing, namely that there is no documentation at all -- not one citation or end note. The diligent work of historians has repeatedly shown us that first-hand accounts of wartime experiences often do not square exactly with the immense amount of military records that must be gathered, catalogued, organized, and at some point released to the public, often many years after the cessation of hostilities. Good end notes and a works cited section suggest to me a historian who has done his homework. In Lodwick's case we can only guess at home much of his material is derived from sources other than his own recollections. Thus there is a bit of a shadow that hangs over Lodwick's narrative. It's a great story, but the reader can never rest assured that his descriptions are correct in certain details, such as his assertions of the number of enemy combatants killed or the amount of materiel destroyed, such as the "... eight planes, six trucks, four bomb dumps, seven petrol and two oil dumps" supposedly bagged by a raid on the airfield at Kastelli on Crete. That's a pretty significant haul for a small-scale raid. Do any German sources verify the destruction? The reader isn't told. But Lodwick's account of this particular operation can be compared with one found at Wikipedia based on a Greek source, and the reader will note that their are discrepancies in both the descriptions of the personnel involved and of the damage inflicted. My suggestion is to take Lodwick's quantitative statements with a grain of salt and don't allow them to distract too much from the story. CDC
  13. Crusoe, Castaways and Shipwrecks in the perilous Age of Sail by Mike Rendell Pen & Sword Books, 2019 142 pages, 16cm * 24cm This is an enjoyable historical retelling of what would have been some of the headline news (for weeks – if it had had such coverage) items over the Georgian period. The author covers some widely differing disasters that can be grouped into three sections – castaways that could have influenced the writing of Robinson Crusoe (and the authors fascinating life), enormous storms and the damage caused and finally single ship disasters of varying natures. The Bounty Mutiny is also included but this strangely seems a unusual side-line perhaps included just because of its modern day fame. I was pleased to note that the author follows the current historical interpretation of those events (as best covered by Caroline Alexander) and not the more populist view. That was the one event that seemed out of place though it might be due to the huge amount of popular research already existing on that specifically. His style is very readable and reminded me (at least) of the military historian Gordon Corrigan in that there is a certain degree of humorous asides with regard to some of the people/events contained within though never to any extent to undermine the conscientious telling of some fascinating tales. Most of the accounts relate to Georgians in the 17th century so mainly British ( though a large portion involve people living in what would become the U.S ). Some Dutch and French events are referenced in equal detail with one of the Dutch in particular being particularly shocking. It is not a huge book but is nicely presented with decent quality paper (a pet peeve of mine on some prints) so it makes a pleasant light read and the author shows considerable mastery of his obvious interests. I found it both fascinating and readable any would recommend it to anyone with an interest in some of the more common disasters that could affect seafarers in those far off times.
  14. Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World is written by Owen Rees, an editor for the digital magazine My History Digest. He is also the author of the book Great Battles of the Classical Greek World. Published in 2018, this book focuses on Greek naval history during the period 394-494 BC. The book starts with a basic introduction to the vessels and military tactics utilized by the warring countries of the Mediterranean Sea and Persia during this era. The sections, representing the major areas of conflict, are then broken down into individual battles. The reader is provided with historical background for the battle, followed by a description of the battle itself and its consequences. Maps are included to illustrate the troop locations and movements. There are also maps of Greece and the Aegean Sea and Sicily. The book would have benefited from the addition of maps of the entire eastern Mediterranean and Middle East/Asia Minor as well as the inclusion of modern names for the locations some of the ancient cities and civilizations. The author is passionate about ancient Greek military history, both on land and sea and almost 40 pages of references and suggested readings are provided. Unfortunately, he also assumes the reader is knowledgeable of the history of ancient Greece and Asia Minor and the relationships among the various cities on the Greek peninsula. Without that knowledge, it is difficult to follow the background descriptions preceding the battles. In summary, Great Naval Battles is an academic book which describes the Greek naval battles of the fifth century BC, including the circumstances which led to battle, the troops and ships involved and the consequences of the actions. It is available from Pen and Sword Books www.pen-and-sword.co.uk in both print and Kindle formats.
  15. BRITISH NAVAL WEAPONS OF WORLD WAR TWO, The John Lambert Collection Vol. 1: Destroyer Weapons Edited by Norman Friedman Seaforth Publishing, 2019 25 cm by 29.5 cm format 240 pages Suggested retail GBP 40.00 Verdict: Building any British destroyer models soon? Get this! John Lambert, who passed away in 2016, was one of those men with a singular passion that only a small number of people will ever appreciate, but that small group will really appreciate his work. Lambert's passion was creating draughts (English spelling retained as a nod to this volume's English roots) of British naval vessels and weaponry, and he drew a LOT of them. British Naval Weapons Vol.1: Destroyer Weapons (BNW1) is the first volume in a series of books that will eventually be released by Seaforth, and if the first volume is any indication, modelers will want to keep a sharp-eyed lookout for subsequent editions. The first 63 pages of this BNW1 are a narrative that covers the development of British destroyer weapons from World War 1 through the end of World War 2, along with a survey of the changing realities of naval warfare that dictated that development. As the role of the destroyer evolved, so did the types of weapons they carried and the manner in which they were arranged aboard ship. This is described by editor Norman Friedman in an engaging style and accompanied by many black and white period photos. The heart of BNW1 though, without doubt, is the immense number of highly detailed draughts done by Mr. Lambert. The first twelve of these are of ships and include shipbuilder's drawings of common weapons. Naturally, a drawing of every British destroyer that ever served, including the ever-changing armament of each, is beyond the scope of practically any book. The twelve pages of ships' draughts are intended to be representative of the group as a whole and give an overview of how destroyer armaments changed during the time period covered. The drawings range from HMS Whitehall 1924 to HMS Caesar 1944. The remainder of BNW1 consists entirely of drawings of the weapons carried by British destroyers, beginning with main guns, e.g. the 4 in QF Mk IV of 1916, and on down to AA weapons, torpedoes, mines, depth charges, and other equipment including paravanes, range finders, and fire controls. It's all there -- and in extraordinary detail. The subject of the 2-pdr quad Mk VII M came up in a recent post here at MSW, and to demonstrate just how much information is packed into this book, there are six plates of drawings for this weapon and mount combination alone. There are over 30 individual drawings of the Mk VII M, including front, rear, left side, and right side elevations; plan view; oblique views; details of wiring; and detail views of just about every subsystem -- sights, training and elevation gearing, ammunition trays, you name it -- that formed part of the weapon. There seems to be no stone left unturned. And that's just one system. For anyone wishing to super-detail any British destroyer of this era, this book looks to be a real must-have. Highly recommended! CDC
  16. The Ketch-rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752 Volume I, The Hull by Greg Herbert and David Antscherl Distributed by: SeaWatch Books, LLC, Florence, Oregon 8 1/2” x 11”, hardcover, 238 pages, bibliography, index ISBN 978-1-7320162-1-7 No doubt, when modelers realized that SeaWatch Books’ latest offering, The Ketch-rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752, would be authored by Greg Herbert and David Antscherl, the level of anticipation ramped up considerably. The last time these two gentlemen teamed up, the net result was the benchmark Swan series The Fully Framed Model. This latest work outlines the construction of a class of vessel not modeled very often. Built with light scantlings, and armed with 8 three pounders and 10 swivels, Speedwell’s primary task was to track down privateers and smugglers. Her career was long, but uneventful, and she would end her service in the Royal Navy as a fire ship renamed Spitfire. This first book provides an illustrated guide for building the hull, and offers the modeler detailed information for constructing the model three different ways. These methods are plank on frame (POF), plank on bulkhead (POB), and solid hull using the lift method (LIFT). The authors deal with the different, and, in many cases, similar complexities for constructing the hulls by providing tabs on each page that are applicable to each method. The five sheets of plans that accompany this book were drawn by Mr. Antscherl, and the attention to detail is most noteworthy. An excellent example is the bevel lines incorporated into the bulkhead drawings, and the recommended locations for the pedestal mounting nuts. This last item is not addressed very often by authors. The first chapter discusses the various references used to create the plans included with this book. Three draughts from the Royal Museums Greenwich, and a contemporary model of the Speedwell were the primary sources. It is interesting to note that they did not always agree with each other. Antscherl feels that this is attributable to the fact that the three draughts reflect first the original design, then the alterations made at Chatham, and finally as the vessel was built. The fact that Speedwell was revised during construction resulted in a number of unique features. For those wanting to build the framed up version, the most notable might be the large number of cast toptimbers located around the gunports. Normally, this situation was avoided as much as possible when designing a ship. This helped cut labor and material costs. David Antscherl starts out Chapter Two by making an interesting statement: “This chapter will be of interest only to those who wish to develop their own working drawings of other vessels from Royal Museums Greenwich or other contemporary plans. Otherwise, turn to Chapter Three.” This no doubt reflects the practical attitude that was taken when this book was written. Nevertheless, the information provided in this chapter is well worth understanding. There are also two appendices in this chapter. Appendix 2.1 discusses the anomalies that occurred between the three draughts and the RMG model. Antscherl explains these differences, and provides reasons why he chose one reference over the other. Appendix 2.2 features three folios taken from the Navy Board’s Progress and Dimensions Book. These were kept as part of the mid-eighteenth century expenditure records. This short segment makes for some fascinating reading. With Chapter Three, Greg Herbert begins the journey that will take the reader through three different types of hull construction. He points out up front that the reader should possess a basic knowledge of ship modeling, terminology, and eighteenth century ship construction. Herbert implies that this book does not contain in-depth descriptions and techniques on how to build a framed model. For that he recommends The Fully Framed Model, HMN Swan Class Sloops, 1767-1780. After discussing the construction of the keel and stem assemblies, which would be common to all three hull types, Herbert addresses the plank on bulkhead version. It’s interesting to note that the central spine is a component that is common to both the plank on bulkhead and lift versions. Nevertheless they are not identical, so selecting the appropriate pattern from the plans is important. The author provides some nice tips for cutting the rabbet, shaping the central spine, installing filler blocks, and using captive nuts for mounting the model during construction as well as when it is completed. With the majority of the models on the market today being of the plank on bulkhead variety, this segment of the book makes a great tutorial for the early stages of building these kits. The plans for the lift hull model provide patterns for five 1/2” thick layers for each side of the hull. Essentially, the modeler is building two half-hulls that are eventually joined to the central spine. This approach alleviates the need for wider, more expensive stock, and allows the hull to be more easily hollowed out if you wish to detail the interior. The upper most lift can be divided into two 1/4” layers, which eliminates the need for cutting slots that will accommodate the partial bulkheads. The reader is also reminded that due to the tumblehome amidships, the lower face of each lift may actually be wider at this location on the hull. One nice touch is the fact that all the lift patterns feature drill center marks for locating pegs. They prevent slippage during the gluing up and clamping process. When assembled and shaped, the patterns will provide the hull shape to the inside of the outer planking. After the partial bulkheads are in place, the hull follows the same pattern as the plank on bulkhead version. This includes installation of filler blocks between the partial bulkheads, marking out the gunports and sweep ports, and attaching the side counter timbers. At this point, Herbert turns his attention to the plank on frame hull. The next seven chapters are devoted solely to its construction. Herbert’s methodical approach while constructing all the components is most noteworthy. One of the more interesting aspects of this book is the effort put forth by the authors to properly interpret the draughts and Royal Museums Greenwich model of Speedwell. An excellent example was determining whether the quarter badge lights were real or dummies. Only after very close examination of the RMG model, and considerable deliberation, did the authors feel that their decision was the correct one. Nevertheless, the builder is supplied with alternate framing plans for that area of the model if they wish to proceed in the other direction. The final 12 chapters are, for the most part, applicable to all three hull types. Herbert’s workmanship is outstanding, and he offers numerous hints and tips. Hull planking is discussed in considerable detail in volume 1, which is a big plus for those not well versed in this important aspect of model ship construction. Herbert simplifies the process by breaking down the procedure into component steps, which include butt-joint patterns, lining off the hull, main wale construction, treenailing, and spiling. A properly laid out and proportioned garboard strake receives special attention. Volume 1 concludes with two appendices. Appendix A discusses chocked joints, and Appendix B outlines the fabrication and use of molding cutters. This latest SeaWatch offering features 8 pages of color photos, and, as previously mentioned, a packet of plans consisting of five sheets. At a scale of 1:48 they will produce a model with an overall hull length of 21 1/2”. This review has touched on only a few of the many aspects this work has to offer. “The Ketch-rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752” would be a noteworthy addition to any ship modeler’s library. This book is highly recommended. BobF
  17. GERMAN DESTROYERS Robert Brown Seaforth Publishing, 2019 64 pages, 21 cm x 29.5 cm format MSRP: $24.95 (GBP14.99) Verdict: Wow! (Apologies in advance for the perhaps odd-looking cropping of the photos that accompany this review -- it is really hard for this old guy to take photos using a digital camera with one hand while holding a stiff paperback open with the other hand!) Call me ignorant, but I had not previously heard of the ShipCraft series published by Seaforth. But after reviewing the most recent addition to this series, German Destroyers by author Robert Brown, suffice it to say that I will be alert for further titles. There is a lot of information packed into 64 glossy pages here, along with plenty of illustrations. Forty destroyers were built for the Kriegsmarine beginning in 1934 (of which 25 were lost), and they were essentially all built to the same design, naturally with some modifications to newer units. The book starts off with a discussion of the design elements incorporated into both the class as a whole and to individual vessels or groups of vessels within the class. This section includes a discussion of the inherent weaknesses of the basic design, these being the result of a lack of German shipyard experience due to limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles coupled with a lack of time for testing and improving the type -- a mere five years between the time the building program began in 1934 and commencement of hostilities in 1939. This portion of the book is accompanied by many B&W period photos. The next portion of the book was something quite unexpected: a survey of the various kits available for the subject, in everything from 1/1250 scale on up to 1/250. The described kits included both newer offerings from well-known manufacturers such as Revell, Trumpeter, and Dragon, along with 'classic' kits such as those from Eaglewall, Heller, and Matchbox. I was pleasantly surprised to see that two card kits (those from Wilhelmshavener and JSC) were included in this section. Along with the basic kits, this section also reviews the various aftermarket upgrades that are available. The next section is a gallery of some really well done models. It made me want to whip out my credit card and buy some kits and PE detail sets -- but I know my limits (both to my skills and to my line of credit). The gallery is followed by three pages of paint schemes, shown in black and white but including a key for the various shades of paint. Don't worry -- English translations are provided for the German color names. The last section of the book is a lengthy treatment of the appearance of the type. This includes both a discussion of general appearance and a section on variations and modifications made to the different classes within the type. Attention is even given to such variations and modifications made to individual vessels, so that the modeler is really very well prepared to attempt a portrayal of just about any of the 40 ships. This section is accompanied by four pages of crisp drawings consisting of side profiles and deck arrangements. Finally, a list of additional references is given, along with a list of the 27 other titles in the ShipCraft lineup. Might have to get me some of those other works! I can't say enough nice things about this book. The writing, photography, line drawings, and printing are all first-rate, making the book worth every penny of its US$24.95 price tag in this reviewer's opinion. CDC
  18. First German edition in 1988 First English edition in 1990 With as subject the history, origin and end of the galleons in Spain England the Netherlands, Portugal France, Scandinavia .. Construction Rules and armament Strategy for attack and defense Life and routine on board The men on board (who did what) Rigging With beautiful photos, drawings and plans. Detailed description of the original "Stockholm Galleon model" Description of a built model of this galleon. Recommended
  19. The layout is in the well-known New Vanguard style. First edition was in 2004 The subject is : The history, origin and purpose of the Spanish galions Operation of the convoy system between the de Americas and Spain Construction rules and armament The attack and defense strategy Life and routine on board. Easy to read text (even for someone like me who never learned English at school) With beautiful photos and color prints Bought for 8.48 pounds. I am happy with my purchase
  20. DESTINATION DUNKIRK: The Story of Gort's Army Gregory Blaxland Pen & Sword Books, 2018 436 pages, 16 cm x 24 cm format Verdict: Not all great historians are great storytellers. Destination Dunkirk is a reprint of a book first published in 1973. It is essentially a history of the BEF in France, starting with pre-war planning for a response to a German invasion in the west right up to the evacuation at Dunkirk that ended in June 1940. There's a certain kind of person who will enjoy reading this book, and I am not that type of person. Allow me to explain. The evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk was a remarkable accomplishment. Like any monumental struggle on the battlefield, it consisted of thousands of heroic actions carried out by thousands of individuals. These represent a trove of potentially gripping stories for any historian to mine (although you may not have gathered that from the, IMO, horrible Christopher Nolan movie that hit the theaters in 2017). Good historians who are also great writers, such as Barbara Tuchman, Stephen Ambrose, Nathaniel Philbrick, or Stephen Bungay, manage to paint an engaging and thorough big picture while also weaving in some of the fascinating individuals and actions that played their parts in the larger narrative. This, however, is not Gregory Blaxland's style. Mr. Blaxland, who passed away in 1986, was a meticulous researcher, and this is obvious in his descriptions of events. The problem with this volume is that it is entirely too meticulous about the wrong kinds of details. Blaxland spends page after page telling the reader that the nth Division moved here or there, with the X regiment on the left and the Y regiment on the right where it linked up with such-and-such division along the left bank of the (insert name here) River, where it took fire from the German XYZ Division, losing x number of (Bren gun) carriers and y number of casualties. In the meantime, the reader learns precious little about the men in those units. Who were they? Why did they fight? What was their experience in France like? The author himself provides clues about why the experience of the everyman in the Battle of France is largely ignored within the pages of his book. In his introduction, Blaxland describes The History of the Second World War, the official history of the British armed forces in that conflict, published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, as "the framework round which I have built," and I'm guessing that there are precious few accounts of individual British enlisted men in the Official History. In the sources section, the reader also discovers that Blaxland availed himself of little additional material other than the official war diaries, notes, and minutes published by various units and officers (much of which first became public in the late 1960s) -- and not very much of it, either. So it should not be too surprising that Destination Dunkirk reads very much like an official history since it is, in effect, a repackaging of various official histories. The people who do tend to garner ink in this volume are the various officers within the combatant armies. This fact is evident not only within the narrative but is also seen in the selection of illustrations. There are 53 black-and-white photographs, which is actually a pretty good number, but of those 53 photos, 37 are of officers. Only one (!) shows any units actually engaged in combat operations Sadly, for me at least, Blaxland tosses out so many names and numbers and dates, and in such a matter-of-fact delivery, that it becomes impossible to keep track of all the dramatis personae. And since so little is divulged of their back stories, it is rather hard to form much of an attachment to them either. It's a style that is fine for anyone who might be primarily interested in who did what and when, but it's not exactly compelling storytelling. There's no hook, and very little in the way of page-turning suspense. Through dogged perseverance, I made it to page 104. Your mileage may vary.
  21. Ironclads And Iron Protected Vessels Of The Confederate States Navy 1861 -1865 A wonderful very concise with details in drawings and plans loaded with information about all the Confederate Navy's ships, at date of publication presents the most up to date history of all those vessels of the Confederate States Navy, proposed, planned, started, not finished, and completed that had iron plating protection in one form or another. The author, John Wallis, is a ship modeler, former naval wargamer, amateur naval historian, who after a thirty-eight year career in The Post office and Royal Mail now lives in retirement in Kent England. He is a member of the International Naval research Organisation and the internet based Civil War Talk Forum as well as several Facebook Groups dedicated warships of the nineteenth century. Price is $19.95 PDF (suggested) and I personally recommend this book. https://www.wargamevault.com/product/268250/Ironclads-And-Iron-Protected-Vessels-Of-The-Confederate-States-Navy-1861-1865?src=hottest
  22. THE WORLD OF THE BATTLESHIP Bruce Taylor (Editor) Seaforth Books, 2018 440 pages, 24.5 cm x 26.5 cm Suggested Retail: GBP44.00 Verdict: It's a good read, as long as you aren't expecting it to be something it is not. I have to say that this large, coffee-table book was not exactly what I expected after first seeing its title. That's not to say that it's a bad book, just something unexpected. First, this is a book about battleships, but it is not a book about battleships in general. Rather, the authors have chosen to focus on specific battleships to create their narrative. The World of the Battleship consists of 21 chapters, each written by a different historian and dedicated to a discussion of a single battleship. Each warship is from a different country. In order to get 21 such ships, as you can imagine, the definition of the word "battleship" gets stretched a little bit. For this work, it is essentially an armored capital ship with 8" main guns or greater. The ships were chosen based on their historical significance for each country, and some are those the reader might predict, but others are initially surprising. Britain is represented by HMS Hood, which is a no-brainer, but Germany is not represented by DKM Bismarck. Instead, the book discusses DKM Scharnhorst on the basis of her more significant contributions to the German war effort. In a similar manner, Japan is not represented by IJN Yamato but IJN Nagato, the first Japanese battleship to significantly depart from British design principles. So, if you are interested in the ways in which individual warships impacted their respective nations' national identity, industrial development, international relations, and ability to wage war, this book might be for you. If you are looking for a book to use as a modeling reference, you might not be as satisfied. The book is profusely illustrated with B&W photographs, but there are no line drawings, color plates, cutaways, or other visual references. If you are looking for a book that gives a broad treatment of what we more usually think of as battleships, i..e. dreadnoughts and super-dreadnoughts, with plenty of examples of each of the different classes, you probably will want to pass on this as well. The ships covered in The World of the Battleship are: Chen Yuen 1882 (China) Garibaldi 1895 (Argentina) Iena 1898 (France) Eidsvold 1900 (Norway) Slava 1903 (Russia) Peder Skram 1908 (Denmark) Minas Geraes 1908 (Brazil) De Zeven Provincien 1909 (The Netherlands) Georgios Averof 1910 (Greece) Yavuz Sultan Selim 1911 (Turkey) Viribus Unitis 1911 (Austria-Hungary) Australia 1911 (Australia) Almirante Latorre 1913 (Chile) Alfonso XIII 1913 (Spain) Sverige 1915 (Sweden) Hood 1918 (Great Britain) Nagato 1919 (Japan) Vainamoinen 1930 (Finland) Scharnhorst 1936 (Germany) Littorio 1937 (Italy) Missouri 1944 (United States)
  23. SUBMARINES OF WORLD WAR TWO: Design, Development, and Operations Erminio Bagnasco Seaforth Books, 2018 288 pages, 24.5 cm x 26.5 cm Suggested Retail: GBP40.00 When I was in middle school, way back in the day, some of my favorite books to check out from the library were books about military hardware -- planes, ships, etc. -- that were broad surveys of different types and included lots of pictures. I still enjoy such books today. Submarines of World War Two fits that description nicely, although it is (happily) more detailed in its descriptions than a middle-school book. Originally published in 1973, this book is literally a survey of just about every class and variant of submarine deployed by every WWII combatant, from major powers like Germany right on down to the smaller fleets of lesser combatants such as Latvia. Neutral countries are covered, too. First written in Italian, the English edition is very readable and gives very few hints of being a translated work. The book begins with a 32-page introduction that covers the origins of submarines, their subsequent development, and their coming of age as significant weapons of war during WWI. This portion of the book is well-written and worth reading in its own right, so don't skip the introduction in this work! The main portion of the book is divided into two sections, the first and necessarily larger section covering the major combatants, and the second devoted to lesser and neutral powers. Within each section, countries are presented in alphabetical order, and the various classes of boats are presented in the order in which they were first built. Each country is introduced with a short overview that cover various aspects of its development of submarines and use of them during the war. The description of each class of submarine begins with a wealth of statistical data, including number of boats in the class, names, dates and locations of builds, dimensions, complement, and performance data. The design and development of each class is discussed and its significant contributions are covered. The final disposition of every boat in the class is listed, and, if lost, the means by which it was lost is given. In some cases, as for instance with Germany's Type VII boats, these lists can be very lengthy -- a grim reminder of the appalling human cost of WWII submarine warfare. Submarines of World War Two is printed on glossy stock and profusely illustrated with line drawings (in the form of cross-sections and outboard and inboard profiles) and black-and-white photographs. It rewards the casual page-turner as well as the serious student of naval history. I think that I can safely say that the casual fan of WWII naval operations is broadly familiar with Kriegsmarine submarine efforts during the Battle of the Atlantic, and possibly to a lesser extent with U.S. operations in the Pacific. This book was, for me at least, a real treat in that it describes the not inconsiderable submarine operations of the other combatants, who don't generally get nearly as much ink in big-picture descriptions of the larger conflict. For this focused treatment alone, Submarines of World War Two is a worthy addition to the libraries of submarine fans everywhere.
  24. Just finished this book. I found it very informative, not only about the battle itself but the strategic, religious and political circumstances surrounding it, and the "mythology" it generated. If I have any criticism, it's that in attempting to demolish the "Christians good - Turks Bad" that normally accompanies traditional accounts of the battle, he goes a bit too far the other way. He makes the point that for all the celebration that attends the battle, it was in no way decisive - the Holy League were not in a position to follow up the victory, and any effects of the battle were very temporary - Cyprus remained in Ottoman hands, and the ships of the Turkish fleet were fully replaced within a year (albeit with unseasoned timbers and inexperienced crews). And the mutual suspicion and antagonism between the members of the Holy League, particularly Spain and Venice caused it to disintegrate within the same period of time. One thing I found extremely interesting was the Holy League's galleasses. They were much heavier than the galleys and had to be towed into position (against a headwind) forward of the main line of galleys, in the centre of the line. They were too unmanoeuvrable to take part in any but the initial stage of the battle, where the Turkish galleys swept past them to engage the galleys of the Christian fleet. Their broadsides are only known to have sunk two Turkish galleys before they were left behind, but in splitting to bypass them, the Turkish centre lost much of its cohesion. Another fact of which I was unaware is that after an initial cannon volley, renaissance galley battles were very similar to classical and mediaeval ones. Normally only one cannon volley was discharged before the vessels met, and the rest was done by boarding. The Holy League knew (from their own experience from Christian fleets fighting each other), as the Turks did not, that firing at point-blank range was far more effective than firing earlier. After that initial salvo, galleys would attempt to "gang up" on galleys of the opposing fleet and sweep their decks clear of defenders in hand to hand combat. Once one enemy galley had been emptied of its crew, they would move on to another and repeat the performance. The Holy League didn't have it all its on way - the number of galleys taken by the Turks with all the crew killed was considerable. But though it was a "famous battle", it really didn't decide very much (except perhaps for the fact that the Turks began to build their own galleasses.) The deconstruction of the myth surrounding the battle is also very interesting and informative, though I must take issue with his contention that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was substantially based on the conflict between Catholic Christianity and Islam. Thoroughly researched though the rest of his book may be, I really don't think he took the trouble to read Tolkien's. Nonetheless, very well worth a read. Steven
  25. I received for Christmas (and just finished reading), “Erebus” by Michael Palin (yes THAT Michael Palin!). A fascinating account of the history of that enigmatic ship. While the author is not the first person you would think of when it comes to naval historians, he nonetheless manages to weave a brilliant nautical narrative. He covers, in some detail, as much of the human stories surrounding the various voyages of the Erebus, culled from various journals and letters written by the various participants. Starting with some details of her initial construction and her early deployment in the Mediterranean, to her conversion for polar service, and her two polar operations. The first being the successful voyage to the Antarctic, led by Sir James Clark Ross, and her final fateful journey. A recommended read for anyone interested in polar exploration, Sir John Franklin, and maritime history. Andy

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