This is another beautiful Seaforth naval history. The level of detail is immaculate and the ship drawings are well-executed. A classic reference work that is unlikely to be equalled – Most Highly Recommended.
NAME: British Cruisers of the Victorian Era FILE: R2523 AUTHOR: Norman Friedman, ship plans A B Baker III PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth BINDING: hard back PAGES: 352 PRICE: £45.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: warship classes, warship types, cruisers, Victorian Era, sea lanes, convoy protection, commerce raiding, steam-powered, armoured, naval guns, torpedoes, naval architecture
IMAGE: B2523.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/k3zjkfx LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This is another beautiful Seaforth naval history. The level of detail is immaculate and the ship drawings are well-executed. A classic reference work that is unlikely to be equalled – Most Highly Recommended. The origins of names applied to types of warship is one of the most confusing aspects of naval history for the novice and even the seasoned professionals and enthusiasts. The term 'cruiser' is a classic example, covering warships similar in size to 'fleet destroyers', through to warships that are as powerful as some battleships. During the Napoleonic Wars, heavy frigates were sometimes referred to as 'cruisers' and 'commerce cruisers'. These ships were used for some of the standard tasks allocated to frigates, but were also used to roam freely across the oceans and take actions at the discretion of the captain, who could be weeks, or sometimes months, away from the last Admiralty instructions issued to him. These tasks were suited to the large frigate that included some guns equal to those carried by line-of-battle-ships. It enjoyed the advantage of a frigate's speed, to run from heavier warships, but equipped, at least for close quarters engagements, with some powerful Carronades, or smasher, slide mounted, short-barrel, guns firing balls of up to 64 pounds, as the warship closed for boarding. The newly formed US Navy began with the four President Class frigates, of which the USS Constitution remains in commission and is capable of operating under her own sails, that could be described as cruisers and which had a primary role of anti-piracy patrols to protect US merchant ships, particularly in the Mediterranean. At the start of the Victorian Era, the Royal Navy faced no direct fleet opposition, but was responsible for projecting power as the Empire expanded and as the volume of shipping on the long sea routes of Empire steadily grew. This was an ideal application for a cruiser because it was clearly a powerful warship, but could also be moved rapidly to a new location. It coincided with the introduction of steam power. The reliability of early steam engines, and the space required to bunker coal, meant that these first Victorian cruisers retained a full sailing rig and travelled much of the time under sail, looking very much like a pre-steam warship. They were also in the vanguard of the new designs of guns and gun mountings. The breach-loading cannon was starting to be introduced for progressively larger calibre weapons. It demanded a much better mounting than the traditional four-wheel truck that had served the RN since Elizabethan times. By the end of the Victorian Era, British cruisers were frequently armoured warships with guns mounted in barbettes and turrets, while torpedo tubes below the waterline gave considerable punch. The sailing rig had gone and the masts reduced, with larger funnels, and often with multiple funnels, as the steam engines increased in power with multiple boilers to power the fastest larger cruisers. The smaller cruisers were still not much larger than the largest destroyers that were becoming increasingly more numerous and powerful. This cruiser group was tasked with countering torpedo boats and destroyers, providing communications and scouting ships and being prized for their flexibility, in many ways the equal of the Napoleonic War frigate that was always in high demand. The largest cruisers were most commonly armoured and one armoured cruiser could claim to be the first RN aircraft carrier in 1903, when it was used for the start of the extensive trials with Cody man-carrying kites. These trials continued until 1908 as the RN began to move its attention to powered aircraft. The early trials were very successful and as confidence grew, the RN used a very wide range of boat and ship types to trial the kites in a very wide range of wind and sea state conditions, from whalers, open pulling boats with a single sail, operating kites in storm conditions, to torpedo boats, destroyers cruisers and battleships. The author already enjoys a strong reputation for his studies of warships and their history. There are many fine photographs, but the ship drawings by Baker complete the supportive illustrations. The book is competitively priced for the quality it achieves but the cover price may deter some readers who would greatly value it. This is a growing problem as the number of well-stocked lending libraries is reducing, but the book is also available in electronic formats which may prove the solution to making quality books available to the widest readership.