Thursday, October 11, 2012

Some Suggested Literature:Victorian Era Navies

I am a few days late in posting due to first my computer, then myself succumbing  to a virus. I have used my downtime to continue reading some excellent books on naval warfare. Here are some suggestions for the Victorian Era.

"Jane's All the World's Fighting Ships 1898", available in a 1969 reprint from Arco. This was the first edition, and featured very evocative drawings of the warships included. Armor is rated in five classes: "a-e". Guns are similarly grouped by muzzle energy in six groups.  These categories are most useful when playing the "Jane's Naval War Game".

"Jane's Fighting Ships 1905", also available in reprint, takes on the format with which most are familiar. Ships are usually shown in deck plan and silhouette, and most are shown in photographs.
Guns and armor are listed by conventional measurements, and in game terms.  Many of the ships from the "1898" volume are also included in this volume, and I find the early drawings, and the plans and photos compliment each other nicely. Of major interest is the inclusion of the revised edition of the "Naval War Game" beginning with the classic mandate "Nothing can be done contrary to what could or would be done in actual war". Six pages contains a vast amount of gaming material.

"Ships of the Victorian Navy" by Conrad Dixon,  was a very nice find on Amazon. This 112 page paperback contains forty-eight beautiful color plates produced by Fred Mitchell prior to his death in 1914. Each plate has a page of narrative, giving engineering data and a brief history of the ship. Among the vessels pictured are the Warrior, the Iron Duke, the Inflexible, the Hotspur and the Devastation. The book wonderfully illustrates how "the wooden ships turned to iron and the iron ships to steel", to quote Al Stewart. Highly recommended!

"Sea Battles in Miniature", by Paul Hague, is a treasure trove of information. Beginning with an introduction to naval gaming, including how to convert and scratch-build your own ships, the author then launches into four sets of rules, covering the Galley Era, Nelsonian Warfare, the Ironclad Age, and the Dreadnoughts. After each chapter of rules is a blow-by-blow account of a game set in the appropriate era. there are also notes on other periods and running a campaign. I am sure i will be mining ideas from this fine little book for the rest of my days. A thanks to David Crook for bringing it to my attention.

"Ironclads at War" by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani was the first book I found that covered the Ironclad Age outside of the American Civil War, although this too is covered. The naval actions of the German and Italian wars of unification, and the Great Pacific War of chile and Peru receive very solid coverage. There are some good maps for wargamers and nice rosters of fleets for several of the actions.

"Warships of the Civil War Navies" by Paul Silverstone is a great favorite of mine. It is like having a "Jane's 186-65 USN/CSN" . Two hundred illustration help bring to life the known facts and histories of almost every vessel involved in the War. Ships are broken out by class, by name, builder, dates built, acquired and commissioned, demensions, machinery, complement and armament. A brief service record and later history follows.A priceless value for the ACW Naval enthusiast!

A pair of books published by Barnes & Noble in 2000. "Battleships and Carriers" by Steve Crawford, and "Destroyers, Frigates, and Corvettes" by Robert Jackson. Each covers 300 ships, with a color profile, a brief history and a block of technical data. Ships date from the Armada period to today. There is one gut-wrenching juxtaposition in the "Battleship" volume. The "Bouvet" described is the French pre-dreadnouught sunk at Gallipoli. The ship pictured is the T47 class French destroyer built in 1951.

Finally, the book I'm reading now, "Fisher's Face"by Jan Morris. This is not a conventional biography, but a highly entertaining treatise by a life-long fan of the admiral.  The author's imaginative prose takes you back in time to meet this most extraordinary  gentleman. I am enjoying the book immensely .

MY NEXT ENTRY: Please return Sunday for a turn-by-turn report of the fight between Huascar and   HMS Shah and Amethyst, using Bob Cordery's Memoir of Battle at Sea, 1860-70.

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