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British_Commonwealth Cruiser vs Italian Cruiser

...Duel 123 from Osprey

Title: British/Commonwealth Cruiser vs Italian Cruiser
Author: Angus Konstam
Publisher: Osprey
ISBN: 978-1-4728-4968-7

The Mediterranean 1940-43, number 123 in the Duel series from Osprey. An 80-page soft-cover book in the usual style for this series, with artwork by Ian Palmer.
The Introduction sets out the context of the confrontation between the Royal and other Commonwealth Navies and the Italian Regia Marina. That is followed by a Chronology which lists the key dates between June 1940 and October 1943. Then it gets into the meat of the subject, with the Design & Development of the various cruiser classes for both the allies and the Italians. These include both Heavy and Light cruisers, developed in line with both the Washington Treaty of 1922 and the subsequent London Treaty of 1930. Heavy cruisers mounting 8in guns, and Light cruisers with 6in weapons. The Royal Navy also had purpose built vessels as AA (Anti-Aircraft) vessels. This section not only includes specification tables for each class of vessel but some fine colour artwork of many of them as well. The Strategic Situation is dealt with next, setting out the battlefield of the Mediterranean, with the British focussed on the shipping route from Alexandria in the East to Gibraltar in the West, with Malta an important Naval base in the middle. For the Italians, geographically in the centre, but with supply routes going North/South between Italy and Libya, plus the route to Albania. Some more neat artwork provides nice clear maps to illustrate the text. The next section covers the Technical Specifications, dealing with protection, gunnery control and the main guns themselves with more lovely artwork illustrating both British and Italian light cruiser gun turrets. Next comes The Combatants, considering the experience and training of the crews of both sides, and their respective Admirals. This also includes tables listing the cruisers used by both sides during the period covered by the book. Combat comes next, with both sides using cruisers for a variety of roles, including convoy attack and convoy escort among other work. That leaves just an Analysis of the topic to round everything off.
I suspect many of us will have some knowledge of the Naval war in the Mediterranean, especially the story of Malta, but I found this look at the specific detail surrounding the operations of cruisers by both sides to be really interesting. The idea of cruisers is usually to be used in support of the larger fleet units, but here we see them being used much more flexibly. Another good naval book from author Angus Konstam, and some lovely artwork from Ian Palmer.
Thanks to Osprey for the review copy.


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