Book Review – Warship 2014

B1981

The Conway annual Warship is an eagerly awaited treat for enthusiasts and naval professionals. Its price limits the readership but is inevitable for a work of this quality and authority.. Each year, Warship Notes, to the back of the book, provides an interesting selection of short articles and a review of some of the outstanding naval books of the year.

This year, there are main contributions from eight acknowledged specialists in the fields.

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NAME: Warship 2014
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 120614
FILE: R1981
AUTHOR: editor John Jordan
PUBLISHER: Conway,
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 208
PRICE: £40.00
GENRE: Fiction
SUBJECT:
ISBN: 978-1-84486-236-8
IMAGE: B1981.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/m7ohonl
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The Conway annual Warship is an eagerly awaited treat for enthusiasts and naval professionals. Its price limits the readership but is inevitable for a work of this quality and authority.. Each year, Warship Notes, to the back of the book, provides an interesting selection of short articles and a review of some of the outstanding naval books of the year.

This year, there are main contributions from eight acknowledged specialists in the fields.

With the naming and floating of the new British super carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, there is a well-timed article covering CVA-01: Portrait of a Missing Link. CVA-01 should have been built as a replacement for HMS Ark Royal (IV). In the event the Wilson Regime cancelled CVA-01 and prematurely scrapped HMS Eagle and HMS Ark Royal which would have left Britain without a carrier and fixed wing fast jets and left the Falkland Islanders at the mercy of Argentine bandits. Fortunately a canny senior Naval Officer smuggled the Invincible Class carriers past Minister of Defence Healey by calling them through-deck cruisers. By adding the superlative Sea Harrier to the new through-deck carriers’ air groups, Britain had the means to strike back at the Argentine invaders and liberate the Falkland Islanders. More recently the liberal Prime Minister Cameron repeated the Wilson treachery by scrapping the Sea Harrier and the Invincible Class without confirming that the new Queen Elizabeth carriers will ever enter service.

In a separate article, the Japanese Light Carrier Ryujo has been reviewed.

An article on the French armoured cruisers and another on the Japanese armoured cruisers reviews a class of warship that has long since disappeared from service, nicely complimenting the article on the Russian Turret Frigates and an article on the German pre-dreadnought classes Braunschweig and Deutschland.

There is a fascinating article on the escape of the French battleship Jean Bart in 1940, one of the least known episodes of WWII. One of the most controversial episodes of the war was the British bombardment of the French warships harboured in North Africa. The counter argument has always cited the French scuttling of their warships in French ports when German troops moved into Vichy France, as evidence that the sinking of the North African warships was unnecessary. The Jean Bart demonstrates a further option followed by a number of French warships in 1940 that it was possible to escape the German invasion. In the case of the Jean Bart, she joined the North African Fleet but, once at sea she could have emulated other French warships and made for a British port to fight on for the Free French Forces and the eventual liberation of France. This persuaded Churchill that he could only rely on French warships that joined the Free French in Britain or were destroyed and beyond German reach.

Each year, Warship includes at least one technology article. This year, the Royal Navy’s post-war attempts to produce effective shipboard fire control systems is reviewed very effectively. This was a very interesting period for gunnery at sea. The aeroplane had emerged as the principle weapon system to defend and attack warships. It had led to even battleships increasing their anti-aircraft guns to such an extent that the naval big gun was almost obsolete. Mechanical computers, optical and manual aiming was giving way to electronic computers and radar. As history was to demonstrate, the gun survived. Even 16 inch guns were fired in anger by the last US battleships forty years after the ‘experts’ had predicted they were obsolete. The smaller calibre guns were to enjoy widespread use as Close In Weapons Systems, and the work conducted in the 1940s and 1950s laid a base for future gun control systems.

Perhaps the most interesting article reviews the Italian multi-role carrier Cavour. She demonstrates an alternative to the very large super-carrier, such as the Queen Elizabeth class, and the even larger US nuclear-powered carriers. Arguably, the British Invincible carriers were a little too small and the Cavour weighs in at 27,520 tonnes, less than half the size of the QE class but almost 50% heavier than the Invincibles. Cavour is able to operate as a carrier with Sea Harrier or other VSTOL and STOVL fast jets with a ski ramp at the fore end of the flight deck. She can carry a wide range of helicopters and tilt rotor aircraft which would allow concentration on anti-submarine operations or for amphibious task force deployments. Having a roll-on ramp in the stern, the Cavour could also be used to move land forces. This provides for great flexibility and also allows the Cavour to deploy on humanitarian missions in the wake of natural disasters. With the rise in the numbers of UAVs in use by navies around the world, the Cavour is more the size of a large UAV carrier, but possibly slightly larger than this type of warship will be. For a country with the scale of economic challenges faced by Italy, a warship of the size of Cavour is a very brave decision.

Warship 2014 has certainly maintained its established standards and it is to be hoped that sufficient new readers will stretch to the price to maintain the future for what has become an important information source . In the past, dedicated naval enthusiasts and naval professionals always made sure that they had a copy of the latest Warships in their libraries and public libraries purchased copies that enthused new readers and made the work available to a wide audience. With the round-down of many public libraries, this type of important book is under pressure and many similar publications have ceased to be published. On the other hand, inflation means that the cover price is shrinking in real terms, so perhaps it is more affordable than many commentators give credit.

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