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Book Review
Battlecruiser: British-German
British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser 1914–16
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser 1914-16
Author: Mark Stille
Artists: Paul Wright; Ian Palmer
Series & Nr.: Duel 56
Length: 80 pages
Formats: softcover; PDF; ePub
ISBN: 9781780960968


Introduction
British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser 1914-16 is the 56th title in Osprey Publishing’s Duel series. This informative book explores and explains the concepts, development, strengths and weaknesses, and combat of British and German battlecruisers in WWI.

introduction
Metallurgy of the industrial revolution launched the age of all steel ships plus guns more powerful than ever. The legendary Royal Navy revolutionized warships with HMS Dreadnought, a name that became the colloquial for battleships of heavy armor and huge guns. The advance in propulsion technology allowed ever increasing power to be harnessed, allowing ships to move at speeds hardly dreamt of a decade before. The high speeds inspired a new concept in warship design. “Speed is armor” was the mantra of First Sea Lord Admiral of the Fleet Sir John ‘Jacky’ Fisher. He conceived of fast Royal Navy ships with battleship guns streaking through the seas scouting for an enemy battle line, sweeping aside screening forces, and then joining their own battle line to administer a pounding to the enemy.

The prospective enemy of the day was the newly formed Kaiserliche Marine of young Imperial Germany. Germany saw the RN as their main rival and an arms race of dreadnaughts ensued. Britain emphasized big guns, speed and armor while the Germans emphasized armor, guns and speed. Eventually the huge RN and the outnumbered yet formidable KM had a go at each other in small actions around the world that culminated in the ultimate modern battle fleet clash, the May 1916 Battle of Jutland.

Content
British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser 1914-16 examines the era of the battlecruiser leading up to and including Jutland in thorough detail. Author Mark Stille presents this history through 80 pages in 11 chapters and sections:

    1. Introduction
    2. Chronology
    3. Design and Development
    4. The Strategic Situation
    5. Technical Specifications
    6. The Combatants
    7. Combat
    8. Statistics and Analysis
    9. Conclusion
    10. Bibliography
    11. Index

Battlecruisers sparked an arms race in the early 20th century. Several of the battleships in the Second World War were laid down as battlecruisers. Mr. Stille does a good job of explaining the genesis of that class of warships. I was very surprised by technical aspects of the ships and that a battlecruiser was not merely a fast battleship. It is very interesting why the different navies chose the combination of guns/armor/speed that they did. In fact, they did not even refer to the ships the same, the Germans eschewing the term battlecruiser (Schlachtkreuzer) for "large cruiser" (Grosser Kreuzer). Weight of armor by total displacement helps understand just how tough these ships were and helps compare them.

Gunnery and fire control is explained in two sections, one for British, one for German.

Obviously, the most fascinating part of this book is how these ships performed when they actually engaged each other in combat, leading to one of the most interesting combat quotes, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today"!

With so many explanations of so many aspects, I appreciated the cold statistics of how many shells were fired by each ship compared to hits on the enemy. The roles of Admirals Hipper and Scheer, Jellicoe and Beatty in the battlecruiser is also touched upon.

Speaking of the admirals, two are profiled: Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, and Konteradmiral Franz Hipper.

Battlecruisers survived after The Great War. Certain American and Japanese aircraft carriers were laid down as battlecruisers. The U.S. Navy even commissioned battlecruisers in WW2, the Alaska-class (although USN often refered to them as "Large Cruisers"). However, battlecruisers were not really prominent after WWI except with the Kriegsmarine and Marine nationale. The question is explored was the battlecruiser effective?

Photos, artwork, graphics
Supporting the text are many photographs, obviously black-and-white. It is not a surprise that some are not the sharpest although I was surprised at how many are clear and sharp. A few are of the ships in combat. Modelers can find a wealth of detail from these photos. There are even photos of shellfire damage.

Image highlights are the illustrations by artists Paul Wright and Ian Palmer:

1. British Main Armament: the dual 13.5in/45 gun turret with handling room and barbette.

2. German Main Armament: the dual 11in/50 gun turret with handling room and barbette.

a. HMS New Zealand of Indefatigable class: color profile and planform with descriptive sidebar.

b. HMS Princess Royal of Lion class: color profile and planform with descriptive sidebar.

c. SMS Seydlitz of Seydlitz class: color profile and planform with descriptive sidebar.

d. SMS Lutzow of Derfflinger class: color profile and planform with a textual description.

* Map: Dogger Bank, 24 January 1915

I. In-action two-page painting: SMS Seydlitz, Moltke, and Derfflinger firing, at speed in battle line, at Dogger Bank.

II. In-action two-page painting: Beatty leading battlecruisers HMS Lion, Princess Royal, and Queen Mary, bracketed by German shells, returning fire at Jutland.

* Map: Jutland: the battlecruiser phase from 1545hrs to 1640hrs, as the two battlecruiser forces steamed south.

* Map: Jutland: the action from 1640hrs to 1745hrs, during the 'run to the north', when the High Seas Fleet engaged the British battlecruisers.

Comparison of gunnery sights: Indefatigable vs Von der Tann in their private gunnery duel.

Tables:
    A. Technical characteristics of British battlecruiser guns: guns; weight of shell; muzzle velocity; elevation; range.

    B. Technical characteristics of German battlecruiser guns: guns; weight of shell; muzzle velocity; elevation; range.

    C.1. British battlecruiser classes by:
      Ships in class; displacement; dimensions; armament; protection (main belt; deck; turrets [face], [sides], [top]; conning tower; barbettes; total weight of armor); machinery; range; crew. Classes listed are Invincible-, Queen Mary-, and Tiger class

    C.2. German battlecruiser classes by:
      Ships in class; displacement; dimensions; armament; protection (main belt; deck; turrets [face], [sides], [top]; conning tower; barbettes; total weight of armor); machinery; range; crew. Classes listed are Von der Tann-, Moltke-, Seydlitz-, and Derfflinger class

    D. Battlecruiser gunnery at Jutland
    E. Damage suffered by British battlecruisers at Jutland
    F. Damage suffered by German battlecruisers at Jutland

Conclusion
Great War battlecruisers were a mystery to me. Mr. Stille pulls back the curtain on these ships of WWI. The book is easy to read and full of information. It is richly supported with splendid photographs and artwork. Tables codify the data.

I do not have any real criticism of this book. While it could probably be twice as long, it still presents the battlecruiser war in WWI well.

I enjoyed this book and can recommend it!
SUMMARY
Highs: Informative and interesting text. Quality graphics and photographic selection.
Lows: Nothing really.
Verdict: I do not have any real criticism of this book. While it could probably be twice as long, it still presents the battlecruiser war in WWI well.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781780960968
  Suggested Retail: $18.95 / £12.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 29, 2014
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.20%

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


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