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Battleships of the World — Struggle for Naval Supremacy 1820-1945

By John Fidler


Comments: Hardcover, 145 pages, all black-and-white photos

ISBN: 978-1-14738-7146-8

Price: $32.95

Publisher: Pen & Sword Limited

From the publisher:
The battleships of the world’s navies in the 1820s were descended directly in line from the Revenge of 1577: they were wooden-built, sail-powered and mounted guns on the broadside, firing solid shot.

In the next half century, steel, steam and shells had wrought a transformation and by 1906, Dreadnought had ushered in a revolution in naval architecture. The naval race between Britain and Germany that followed, led to the clash of the navies at Jutland in 1916. Though this was indecisive, the German navy never again challenged the Grand Fleet of Britain during the war, and eventually the crews refused to put to sea again.

Disarmament on a massive scale followed, but the battleship was still regarded as the arbiter of sea-power in the years between the wars. However, the advocates of air power were looking to the future, and when in 1940 biplane Swordfish torpedo bombers of the Fleet Air Arm sank three Italian battleships at their moorings in Taranto, the Japanese sensed their opportunity. Their attack on the American Pacific fleet base at Pearl Harbor sank or damaged eight battleships — but the American carriers were at sea, and escaped destruction.

Given the distances involved, the Pacific war was necessarily a carrier war, and in the major actions of the Coral Sea, Midway, Leyte Gulf and the Philippine Sea, all the fighting was done by aircraft, with battleships reduced to a supporting role.

Soon after the war ended, most were sent for scrap, and a naval tradition had come to an end.

FSM says: This nice book is less modeling reference and more a survey of warship development from the end of the age of sail through World War II. Fidler tracks development by classes of gun armed ships from the monitors to the pre-dreadnoughts and dreadnoughts of WWI. The Washington Treaty and disarmament followed before the battleships last true hurrah in WWII. Photos and illustrations show major ships along the way.


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