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Battlecruiser Repulse: Detailed in the Original Builder's Plans

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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

 

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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.

1303740103_repulseprofileshowingsectionstations.jpg.2ffdc652064ae3d7969b0d4607e12b3c.jpg

 

Station plans at each indicated section are shown and given additional treatment.

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Naturally, deck plans are included, and deck details, structures, and furnishings  are discussed.

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This is true not just for the main deck but for every deck on the ship, such as the platform deck and hold1805392779_repulseplatformdeckplan.jpg.433bfaca836f690e7e33f5c58447747d.jpg

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?

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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.

 

 

 

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