US Fast Battleships 1936-47

While successful designs, especially when used in an Anti-Aircraft support role in Carrier Task Groups, they had a relatively short life span and they were all decommissioned by 1947.

The book begins by discussing the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which set limits for both existing and new naval construction, and the implications of the treaty amongst the signatories.  To stay within the constraints of the treaty, the ships could not exceed a displacement of 35,000 tons and the main armament could not exceed 16 inches.  Their designed speed of 27 knots was established based on faulty intelligence regarding Japanese fast battleships; the Japanese battleships were much faster.  The ships also had to be able to fit through the Panama Canal.

The design and construction of these battleships are discussed in detail, including the various reasons why the ships were designed as they were.  Fire control, radar and the floatplanes are also given some attention.  While the section devoted to the Battleships themselves is relatively short, it is informative and covers the major aspects of these ships.

Fast Battleship Operations are covered in detail, including the transformation of airpower as a major weapon against ships during the early phases of the war.  The evolving role and the activities of each battleship are covered along with their participation in each of the campaigns.  The campaigns include Guadalcanal, the Eastern Solomons, Battle of Santa Cruz, the Central Pacific, Battle of the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. Many interesting details are presented including the new role of the battleships as anti-aircraft platforms for the carrier task groups.

There are many black and white photos throughout the book of both interior and exterior features including the turbines and a great shot of the boilers as they are being loaded into the ship’s interior.  There are many color profiles, most of the North Carolina; North Carolina top and side as she appeared in early 1942 just before the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, South Dakota top and side as she appeared at the end of the war 1945, North Carolina side profile in her Measure 2 graded system 1941 and another side profile in her Measure 32 medium pattern 1944, North Carolina side profile in her Measure 22 graded scheme 1945 and another of her in Measure 13 Haze Gray scheme 1947.  There is a nice two-page cutaway profile of the North Carolina in March 1943 (right after her SK-2 air-search radar was installed) with many key areas and components of the ship labeled. There is another great cut-away profile of the 16-inch turret including the powder and shell handling rooms with all the key components labeled.

Artwork in the book includes a painting of the North Carolina (off the tail of the USS Enterprise) as she is firing off her huge array of anti-aircraft guns all at once, and another of the USS Washington firing a third salvo at the Japanese fast battleship Kirishima during a night battle near Guadalcanal. While the paintings are nice, the colors are a bit too vivid therefore making them look cartoonish.  There are small diagrams showing the formations used when the battleships were employed as AA support for the carriers.  There is a large table in the back of the book that lists key dates and characteristics for each of the ships in each class.  There is also a handy table that shows which ships participated in which campaigns.

Review sample provided by reviewer.

Scott Espin – Model Builder International – 

The Osprey Publishing Name, Logo, and Photos are copyright of Osprey Publishing.



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