Review by Steve Backer
Warship has been published for a quarter of a century. It is one of the signature series of Conway Maritime Press. Each years issue features a selection of articles by distinguished authors ranging a gamut of topics on warships from the mid 19th Century to the present day. Warship 2000-2001 is the 24th issue of this celebrated publication.
First Class Cruisers (Part One) by David Topliss (with Chris Ware) examines the birth of the large cruiser for the Royal Navy designed to hunt down and destroy enemy commerce raiders. The Orlando was the first such cruiser and was built under the 1884 Naval Defence Act. The two ship Blake Class followed in 1888. The Edgar Class was in the 1889 program. A clear break with this series of cruisers came in 1893 with the building of Powerful and Terrible. They were heavily influenced to meet the perceived threat of the Russian cruiser Rurik, which was designed for commerce raiding. A typical example of what happens when a warship is designed to counter a specific warship, rather than operational requirements, the class was oversized and under gunned. The Royal Navy grossly exaggerated the abilities of Rurik and created two 14,000 ton cruisers, which mounted nothing heavier than a six inch gun.. Surely one of the worst designs of the Royal Navy in the period, the class came under immediate attack by the press to such an extent that the Admiralty had to make rebuttals. Compared to the preceding Edgar, the Powerful required a 64% larger crew, was 61% more expensive and yet only had one more six inch gun on the broadside, hardly a good trade. (9 pages, 4 photos)
German Type II Submarines at War by Pierre Hervieux examines the combat history of the German coastal U-Boats of World War II. The four variants of the Type II Coastal Submarine (A-D) were very active in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea, with some Type IID boats operating in the Atlantic. This article recounts year by year, starting in 1939 the combat tours and exploits of these 50 small submarines. (16 pages, 15 photos)
Armored Cruiser Versus Armored Cruiser, by Battle of Ulsan August 14, 1904. There have only been two naval actions in which armored cruiser fought armored cruiser, as the chief combatants. The most well known is the Battle of Coronel in which von Spee’s Asiatic Squadron overwhelmed Craddock’s Cruiser squadron. This fascinating article by Peter Brook examines the earlier action involving this type, the clash between the Imperial Russian Cruiser Squadron of Rear Admiral Iessen and the Imperial Japanese Cruiser Squadron of Vice Admiral Kamimura. During the Russo-Japanese War the bulk of the Russian fleet in the Pacific was bottled up in Port Arthur, on the Manchurian coast, West of Korea. However, the Russians also had a cruiser squadron at Vladivostok, East of Korea. In an attempt to create a diversion for the break-out of the First Pacific Squadron, the three oldest armored cruisers in the Russian navy sortied from Vladivostok, only to be met by four Japanese cruisers. The Russians were outnumbered and outgunned so Admiral Iessen fought a very skillful delaying action, aided by the caution of Admiral Kamimura. Eventually the last ship in the Russian column, oldest and slowest Russian cruiser, the Ruirk, fell behind. In a remarkable preview of the Battle of Dogger Bank (1915), the four Japanese cruisers concentrated on the crippled Rurik, allowing the much more important Rossiya & Gromoboi to slip away. (14 pages, 19 photos, 4 drawings, 2 maps)
The Retvizan: An American Battleship For The Tsar, written by Stephen McLaughlin, describes the construction and life of the Philadelphia built, Russian battleship, Retvizan. By 1898 Russia’s yards were building to capacity and the navy contracted for foreign construction. Retvizan, arguably the best of the battleships of the Russian First Pacific Squadron at Port Arthur, represented a fusion of contemporary Russian and American ship-building practice. The Cramp Yard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania snagged an order for a battleship. At first Cramp proposed to build a Russian version of USS Iowa, while the Russians insisted on the ship being patterned after Peresvet. Luckily, neither pattern was followed, and influenced by the Russian design for Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii, Cramps developed a new and superior design. Not only was Retvizan an American built battleship designed in consideration of Russian practices but adding American practices, but also she influenced American design. The subsequent USS Maine Class designed by Cramp was heavily influenced by Retvizan. The similarities are obvious and this class of American battleships can be said to be first cousins to the Russian battleship. (19 pages, 9 photos, 5 drawings)
Nile and Trafalgar; The Last British Ironclads is about the confused building priorities and design decisions of the Royal Navy during the 1880s. Keith McBride describes the political and technological environment. This class was one attempt by the Royal Navy to juggle the demands of armament, speed and armor to answer the revival of the French Navy. (6 pages, 4 photos)
The Navy of Victoria, Australia by Colin Jones examines the Navy of the largest of the Australian States. Before the Act of Union of 1901, Australia was comprised of six independent states. Victoria, started building warships in 1855 with the sloop, Victoria. This article examines ship designs of this independent state during the 46 years that she had her own navy. (10 pages, 10 photos)
War Against the Wounded concerns the World War One German naval campaign as it affected Royal Navy Hospital Ships. Written by Peter Kelly the article describes the background as well as specific actions that went into the targeting of British and Commonwealth hospital ships by the Kaiser’s Navy. Each loss is examined, including the sinking of HMHS Britannic, the slightly larger sister of RMS Titanic & Olympic. (14 pages, 8 photos)
Swedish Steam Torpedo Boats is an in-depth treatment by Daniel Harris of these small boats of the Swedish Navy. The coverage spans the Swedish torpedo launch, Spring of 1874 to 1904 design of the torpedo boat, Magne. The article is chock full of two page official plans and profiles of the various classes of boats and reminds one of the type of coverage found for British warships in Edgar March’s classic, British Destroyers. The author presents terrific coverage on this rather obscure topic. (28 pages, 7 photos, 8 two page plan & profiles, 2 one page plan and profiles)
Sir William White was Director of Naval Construction for the Royal Navy from 1885 to 1901. His designs led the Royal Navy out of the wilderness of confused design theory found in the fleet of experiments and samples from the 1870s and early 1880s, into the homogeneous, powerful designs of the Royal Navy at the dawn of the Dreadnought era. Noted author and naval designer, David K. Brown tells of the life and designs of one of the greatest warship designers of all time. (7 pages, 5, photos, 2 drawings)
The Contre-Torpilleurs Of The Le Fantasque Class presents the background and design of this most famous class of French Destroyers of World War Two. John Jordan describes what went into this design for the Marine Nationale, the lessons learned of previous classes, innovations, operational problems, equipment and flaws of this class of "Super-Destroyers". The piece is an objective analysis of the quantitative merit of the class and does not delve into their service histories. (14 pages, 9 photos, one 2 page plan & profile, one 2 page profile)
Soviet and Russian Air-Independent Submarines by series editor and renowned writer, Anthony Preston, looks at Imperial Russian and later Soviet submarine designs that utilized air-independent propulsion (AIP). Before the advent of nuclear submarines, undersea craft were primarily surface ships that could remain submerged for limited periods of time with greatly diminished operational abilities. While submerged submarines had to rely of battery propulsion, which limited them to crawling along at 5 to 6 knots. Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) introduces closed cycle diesel or internal combustion (in the case of the 1912 Imperial Russian design) engines for use while submerged with the oxygen necessary for combustion coming from stored cylinders of liquid oxygen. This truly innovative concept would allow for far greater underwater performance from the conventional battery powered propulsion. (2 pages, 4 drawings)
The ‘Weapon’ and Gallant Class Destroyers by George Moore reviews the background into these important designs, incorporating the lessons learned from the Battle of the Atlantic and initially laid down in the waning months of World War Two. The article covers the design considerations and choices made to produce the most important classes of ASW warships of the Royal Navy in the late 1940s and 1950s. (14 pages, 3 photos, 4 profiles)
Standard Departments of the Warship Series. In addition to articles on a variety of naval topics, the Warship series has standard sections that appear in each volume. Navies in Review 2000-2001 covers significant events of the navies of the world by country. Significant coverage is found on the French Charles de Gaulle CVN and the futuristic British Daring Class (Type 45) Destroyers. (12 pages, 12 photos) Naval Books of the Year reviews the most important 15 books published on naval topics during the year. These reviews written by Peter Brook, David K. Brown, Daniel Mersey, and Martin Robson are partial page, multiple paragraph highlights of the topics covered. (6 pages) Warship Notes are short articles on more esoteric items of warship history. These articles include, "Repercussions of the Kursk Sinking" by Anthony Preston, "Nordenfelt One-Inch "Anti-Torpedo Boat" Machine Guns" with selected details from the Naval Annual, 1886, the first volume of Lord Brassey’s long running series, edited by Daniel Mersey. "A ’Theme Port’ For Toulon" by Daniel Mersey examines the plan to create a naval theme park at Toulon, consisting of four forts and the French Carrier, Clemenceau. "Brassey’s Naval Annual: A 100 Year Perspective" The first of a retrospective series by Daniel Mersey, the author looks at and extracts material from the Naval Annual, 1901. (Note: If you have not seen any of the classic Brassey Annuals, this article gives a taste of the delights of this truly ground-breaking publication. Introduced in 1886 the Naval Annual, later Brassey’s Naval Annual was the prototype naval annual. Only 13 years later in 1898 did the upstart Jane’s Fighting Ships make its appearance. In the long run, Brasseys lost out to Janes and by 1950 had transformed into Brassey’s Defence Review. Janes proved stronger in graphic presentation and organization but Brassys, for more than half a century, was without peer in the quality and depth of its text articles.) "Whitehead Torpedo Drawings" by Denis Cahill delves into two unusual torpedo drawings from a Whitehead factory at Fiume. "Wargaming: Applied History" by Paul French discusses how the use of a naval wargame can expand on the understanding of naval history. "Haze Gray & Underway" by Andrew Toppan examines the Haze Gray & Underway website (www.hazegray.org) Provides a short description of the components of this influential electronic resource. "Bath Iron Works, Maine" by Andrew Toppan looks at Maine built, Arleigh Burke Destroyers. "The World’s First Successful Submarine Attack" by Martin Robson reports on plans to raise the CSS Hunley (subsequently accomplished). Warship Gallery is a collection of 10 full page photographs of interesting naval photographs. Seven of the ten concern the assault on Casablanca in November 1942 and its aftermath.