Book Review
HMS Vanguard 1946 – 1960
The Last British Battleship HMS Vanguard 1946 – 1960
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


At the end of the Second World War the capital ships or battleships had lost their place as the dominant ship class, this crown now having been awarded to the aircraft carrier and its supporting vessels. The battleship now began to sail into a setting sun. The Last British Battleship HMS Vanguard 1946 – 1960 was the last of the class that served with the Royal Navy and this offering from Seaforth Publishing looks at its time afloat with the Royal Navy.


This offering from Seaforth Publishing covering HMS Vanguard and is written by R A Burt; RAY BURT has researched the design, construction and service histories of British battleships for many years, and has also assembled one of the most outstanding collections that exists of photographs of the ships. He is also an accomplished draughtsman and illustrator, and many of his superb drawings appear in this book. The full title of this offering is ‘The Last British Battleship HMS Vanguard 1946 – 1960’ and is a hardback book of 128 pages. The contents of this offering are laid out as follows:

Forward and Acknowledgements
Design and Construction
Launch 30 November 1944
Vanguard as Completed Data
Hull and Special Features
Bridgework and Funnels
Radar Equipment
The Royal Tour of 1947
Appearance Changes
Battleship Design after Vanguard
Criticism of Vanguard and the Demise of the Battleship
Appendix A: Service History
Appendix B: Comparison with the French Jean Bart and the US Iowa

This book on HMS Vanguard can be broken into four sections in my view for the purposes of a review. The first section would cover the first three sections in the book starting with the introduction. The text in this offering covers the whys and were fors of its production and presents that information in an easy to follow format. Of particular interest to me in this area, are the very large and clear period photographs of the vessel, and I was especially impressed to find fold out sheet diagrams covering the vessel. My only concern is that being a hard back book be careful when folding them back up as you could end up damaging the pages. The line drawings presented are beautifully presented from the side, above, cross sectioned through and even specific floors. The more you examine them, the more detail you pick up, such as a side view showing the plumbing for the boilers, power plant, my only concern here is that I could not find a specific scale mentioned.

The next section I would look at as a whole, covers the Vanguard from the as completed data, through to the radar equipment. This portion of the book, is again expertly written and also includes the period photographs both black and white and colour that are exceptional. This section of the book lays out the elements of the ship as covered in the list of contents. Areas such as the main guns and smaller calibre weapons are covered again with very well done line drawings, cross cuts through the turrets and elements from various angles, and so preventing the viewer with an exceptional level of detail, which is by far the most impressive I can remember finding in a book of this size. The 1947 Royal tour is obviously a section in its own right due to the number of photographs that were taken, unusually presented here in pictorial form are the royal quarters. The Royal tour dates as regards the ship are covered in the text. All of the photographs here are presented as period black and white offerings and are a very nice selection.

What I consider to be the last section of the book has a very large selection of period black and white photographs following the vessel through to the end of her voyage. Even including the final break-up of the vessel. Some of the photographs showing the very last portions of the ship waiting to be removed are very poignant. The history of the vessels movements over its life are covered here, the text is very limited in this section. The comparison of HMS Vanguard to Frances Jean Bart and Americas Iowa indicates that the Vanguard was a very good match for these vessels, and while it had its faults every battleship has its faults, and this one can be regarded as one of the best, and certainly the best battleship that served with the Royal Navy.


This hard back offering from Seaforth Publishing is a particularly well presented book, covering a ship R A Burt has done a particularly effective job of selecting the images to present to the reader. The text is well written and informative, the line drawings rate especially highly with me, as I feel that they present a level of detail of different elements to a degree that I cannot recall having seen in a book of this size. A truly stunning offering.
Highs: The line drawings rated especially highly with me.
Lows: It is not a cheap book but it does offer an especially good look at this vessel.
Verdict: If you have an interest in the Capital ships of the past then this book would be an excellent addition to your library.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526752260
  Suggested Retail: £35.00
  PUBLISHED: Jul 13, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. 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.


Great review of an eagerly anticipated topic. This is the only styrene related gift I'm expecting this Christmas but I'm really looking forward to completing the excellent series on the RN's battleships from RA Burt As Darren noted, it was a sad end to the RN's association with line of battle ships as the Vanguard was broken up: to this day, I still wonder why the UK had not the foresight to preserve at least one of them! PS. Scuttlebutt has it that Very Fire will be releasing a 1/350 kit of Vanguard at some point...
NOV 24, 2019 - 11:45 AM