15 February 2016
It deals with the last five battleships (of 15) of World War One vintage with which the US started World War Two.
Us Standard-Type Battleships 1941-43(2) – Tennessee, Colorado And Unbuilt Classes
Mark Stille, Osprey New Vanguard 229, £9.99
This book follows on from the author’s previous book with the same title but with the volume identifier (1). It deals with the last five battleships (of 15) of World War One vintage with which the US started World War Two. Termed the “Big Five”, it covers the classes in the title and those vessels which were cancelled when the Naval Treaties were signed in the early 1920s.
Like other books in this series, the book deals with the role, design developments and weapons development for these classes and the trends which they illustrated before the naval treaties curtailed and limited naval construction. It describes the fire control systems and covers the integration of radar into that system. The effectiveness of US fire control is illustrated in terms of the Battle of Surigao Strait in 1944. Four of the six US battleships present in that action were from the ships detailed in this book. However, the gunnery action itself was an anti-climax and foregone conclusion as, by the time the surface gunnery action took place, the Japanese force had been reduced by radar-guided torpedo attacks from USN destroyers to one battleship, one heavy cruiser and one destroyer and lasted only 14 minutes. The book continues with a detailed analysis of each class covering design and construction, protection, propulsion, armament and in-service modifications together with brief summaries of the wartime service of each ship in the class.
Well armed and protected, these ships were not fast enough to accompany carrier battle groups and therefore generally supported amphibious forces. Their key role here was to provide naval gunfire support. This new role of providing covering fire to troops landing on heavily defended islands was crucial to final victory, but space does not permit more than passing reference in the service histories. There are a number of instances of duelling against shore batteries, but most shore batteries were not big enough to cause serious damage to these ships. A greater danger was the kamikaze aircraft, but the extensive anti aircraft weapons, coupled with robust construction, proved effective in limiting damage, although not casualties, from this menace.
The book completes with a short analysis and conclusions section and a comparison with comparable Japanese vessels. It concludes that these ships were undoubtedly superior to their direct equivalents, particularly once radar had been integrated into the fire control system. Altogether, the ships proved adaptable and successful in their emergent primary role of gunfire support and protection for amphibious operations.
Well supported by artwork, black and white photographs and coloured cutaway and side views, it would be useful for the modeller or those who want to paint the dazzle camouflage schemes used by the US Navy later in the war.
In summary, this is an interesting read for the general reader, the modeller and the expert alike. Well presented and with some great artwork, it is well recommended.
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