US Navy Gunboats 1885-1945

...New Vanguard 293, from Osprey Publishing

Title: US Navy Gunboats 1885-1945
Author: Brian Lane Herder
Publisher: Osprey Books
ISBN: 978-1-4728-4470-5

New Vanguard 293 from Osprey and a book that I for one have learnt a lot from. I suspect that for many of us, the old phrase of 'Gunboat Diplomacy' might make you immediately think of the Royal Navy and the days of the British Empire, but no, a period from the history of the US Navy when they made good use of these smaller ships for landing shore parties and river patrols, in the Caribbean, the Philippines and China.
The story of these gunboats start with looking at the variety among these vessels, with tables listing the names and basic data of the assorted classes, which range in size from around 200 tons (there were some captured Spanish gunboats much smaller than that with were pressed into service by the USN) up to over 6,000 tons so a lot of variety in all sorts of ways, especially the mix of armament. This section is sub-divided into 9 elements, before moving on to the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Banana Wars of 1899-1916, the Asiatic Station 1899-1937, protecting Chinese-American trade in particular, and finally Asia & the Pacific 1937-1942. Plenty of archive images and some really excellent colour artwork from Adam Tooby.
There is a Conclusion to round things of, as WW2 brought an end to the Gunboat as such, as the huge wartime growth of the USN Blue-Water Navy had taken over. While not mentioned, interesting to consider that there are many new ships being built with the same idea, as there is more focus again on Littoral missions, ship designed to work closer to the shore, and into major waterways. An interesting read, and I learned a lot from this useful introduction to the world of the US Navy Gunboat.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for our review copy.