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Battleship Duke of York

...from Seaforth Publications

Title: Battleship Duke of York
Author: Ian Buxton & Ian Johnston
Publisher: Seaforth Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-5267-7729-4

'An Anatomy from Building to Breaking' is a large format 284-page book from Seaforth Publishing. The bulk of the book, and perhaps the great attraction, are the large number of plans, drawings and photos which fill this book.
Some background to start the book off, and the John Brown & Co shipyard on the Clyde where the Duke of York was built. There are a host of details in here, including a copy of their contract to build the ship, and plenty of detailed drawings showing the gun barbettes and more. There is also fantastic detail on the costs of materials and layout involved with building the ship. The labour costs, along with the multiple trades they included go along with the thousands of men involved in ship building in those days, a ship which was largely of riveted construction. There are also details of the armaments fitted to the vessel, from the 14in main armament to the secondary and AA weapons. Then there are 3 significant sections to the book, the largest being the first. The shipbuilders employed their own in-house photographers which was relatively unusual for the time, and luckily the thousands of photos they took have been preserved in Scottish archives. Added to the almost daily record of progress thanks to regular reports, the photos show the multiply stages involved with building a battleship. Amongst the details we see there are the big planing machines that smoothed the circular mountings for the turrets, so they could turn reliably with the turrets installed, along with the best pictures I can ever remember seeing of the two aircraft hangers and the handling rails for the 2 Walrus aircraft she would carry. The next section has copies of many of the original plans, which are also preserved in the National Archives, and among these is a 4-page fold-out profile view. Yet more detail is evident in the final section, which has another great series of photos showing the Duke of York as she was finally dismantled and scrapped. Even that took over 300,000 man-hours to complete.
There isn't any wider discussion on the King George V Class, nor any attempt to cover the service history of the ship, which did have the distinction of sinking the Scharnhorst. It is an incredibly detailed photographic record of this famous ship. Sadly, despite our use of them, there are no preserved Battleships in the UK, as there are elsewhere. If there is any way in having a record of what they involved, I think this book really hits the mark in providing a very detailed account of such a ship that any one of us can now have to reference on our bookshelves. Highly recommended for any naval history enthusiast and modeller alike.
Thanks to Seaforth Publishing & Pen & Sword books for our review copy. I've seen the hardback book, though it is also available in e-book formats as well.


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