Nelson to Vanguard, Warship Design and Development 1923-1945, David K Brown

Nelson to Vanguard, Warship Design and Development 1923-1945, David K Brown

This is the third in a series of books on the design of British naval ships written by David Brown, himself a post-war member of the Navy's design team and eventually Deputy Chief Naval Architect. The book covers two very different periods - the post First World War period of limited budgets and limits imposed by naval treaties, followed by the period of re-armament and wartime construction, when time and resources were the main limit. The ship's service careers aren't really the main topic of this book, but they are mentioned in two contexts: for most classes a brief examination of their effectiveness is included; second when some aspect of their service career relates to their design (the loss of the Ark Royal as a case study of damage control for example).

The first eight chapters study different types of warship, from the largest battleships to the tiny motor boats. In some cases this means that topics recur in several chapters (welding vs riveting being one example), but far less than one might expect - destroyers posed a very different design challenge to battleships or carriers. The author's expert knowledge of the topic and inside knowledge of the departments involved means that he was able to get at (and understand) all of the relevant documentary evidence, and as a result his description and analysis of the design process rings true in a way that isn't always the case.

The final few chapters look at specific topics - modernisations, damage, production and repair and a conclusion attempting to define what made a good design. This is followed by a series of very useful appendices. I found the chapter on wartime damage to be of particular interest - I hadn’t realised how much damage was done when ships buckled under pressure.

This is a splendid book, written by someone who worked in this area (and who actually served in some of the ships under discussion earlier in his career). It should be an essential part of the library of anyone interested in naval warfare.

Chapters
1 - Battleships
2 - Fleet Carriers
3 - Smaller and Cheaper Carriers
4 - Cruisers
5 - Destroyers
6 - Submarines
7 - Escorts
8 - Miscellaneous Vessels
9 - Modernisations, Updates and Scrapping
10 - Wartime Damage
11 - Production and Repair
12 - What is a Good Design?

Appendices
1 - The Goodall Diaries
2 - Instructions for the Director of Naval Construction
3 - DNC Office Procedures
4 - The Washington Treaty 1922 - Main Provisions
5 - The London Treaty 1930
6 - The London Treaty 1936
7 - Underwater Explosions
8 - Anti-Destroyer Guns
9 - Docks
10 - Shore Bombardment
11 - Admiral Sir Reginald G H Henderson
12 - The Strength of Ships
13 - Damage to RN Armoured Hanger Carriers
14 - Wartime Cruiser Building
15 - D Quality Steel
16 - Anti-Aircraft Warfare between the Wars
17 - USN Destroyer Machinery
18 - Submarine Stability etc
19 - Seakeeping
20 - The Fleet Train

Author: David K Brown
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 224
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2012 edition of 2000 original


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