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British Battleships 1914-18 (1): The Early Dreadnoughts (New Vanguard) [Kindle Edition]

Angus Konstam , Paul Wright
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 changed the face of naval warfare. This revolutionary new battleship was in a league of her own, capable of taking on any two "pre-dreadnought" battleships in a straight fight. A naval arms race followed between Britain and Germany, as both countries hurriedly built a fleet of these powerful new warships. This race led inexorably to the outbreak of a world war. During World War I these dreadnoughts formed the backbone of the British Grand Fleet. In May 1916, these battleships put to sea to intercept their counterparts in the German High Seas fleet. The result was the battle of Jutland, a bruising high-stakes encounter where the design and construction of Britain's revolutionary new battleships was put to the test. The first half-dozen dreadnoughts were all improvements of the basic Dreadnought design, all carrying ten 12-inch guns. It was only in 1911, with the launch of HMS Neptune that the layout of this powerful armament was altered as a result of practical experience. Two more versions of the Neptune entered service later that same year. These nine improved dreadnoughts formed the core of the British High Seas Fleet. They would soon, however, be outclassed by a new breed of "super dreadnoughts", the subject of the second volume in this two-part story. While these new battleships carried larger 13.5-inch guns, they proved less successful as all-round battleships than their more lightly-armed predecessors. Naval architects were slowly learning that with modern battleships, design involved a compromise between firepower, protection and speed. One last 12-inch gun dreadnought entered service in 1914, when a seven turret battleship being built for the Turks was commandeered by the Royal Navy, and re-named HMS Agincourt. This New Vanguard title, the first of two covering these famous warships will uncover the full story of the British battleships of World War I. The book will look at their revolutionary design, the 12-inch guns that provided them with their firepower, and the way these guns were fired in anger.

Editorial Reviews


"In this book, Angus Konstam takes a look at what led up to the building program before the war as well as a description of each of the various classes of ship. Full specs on each class are provided as well as their wartime use and any modifications done. There is also a section on the weapons used and a most interesting one on gunnery of the time. This is superbly illustrated with a selection of period photos of these ships as well as the equally excellent art work or illustrator Paul Wright, who has ably illustrated several naval books. This includes a series of full color profiles. It is everything that makes the New Vanguard series one of my favorite from Osprey and a book I can easily recommend to you."
- Scott Van Aken, (June 2013)

"Sections review "fighting potential", wartime modifications and WWI operations.  And illuminating illustrations, camouflage comments, extended captions, tables, bibliography, and index season this superb summary. Enthusiasts will find Osprey's compact compendium an excellent introduction to a spellbinding subject.  I thoroughly enjoyed it." - David L. Veres,

About the Author

Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands, and is the author of over 50 books, 30 of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed and widely published author has written several books on piracy, including The History of Pirates, and Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator of Weapons at the Tower of London and as the Chief Curator of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. The author lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2848 KB
  • Print Length: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (May 21, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4B2SR6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,950 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I really do like this series of books and have gained much information from earlier works on a variety of subjects both naval and military. I have also previously reviewed 7 works by Angus Konstam - six of which received a 4 Star rating and one a 5 Star! This, however, is a considerable disappointment and one to which I struggled to apply genuine objectivity. In short, the work provides nothing more than a brief-but-reasonable overview of the subject and that is all. Even the opening words on the back cover (so often the decider between shall I buy or not!) are very familiar and read; "The launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 changed the face of naval warfare." They are words which, I am quite certain, many other readers will also have seen before!

Whereas the large print title reads "British Battleships 1914-18 (1)," the sub-title which follows in much smaller print is what actually defines the subject matter of the work and that reads "The Early Dreadnoughts." This was the genre of warship which changed the entire naval fleets of the world - just as the introduction of the jet engine later changed all air forces, and is a lengthy subject in its own right! Those early dreadnoughts were complex ships and the first replacements were born from the experiences of their immediate predecessors. In short, they came about after lessons were learned. Add to this the wider subjects of (as taken from the Contents page); Design and Development, Specifications, Fighting potential, Wartime modifications and Wartime service and there is sufficient material to fill any number of huge books.

Instead, however, we have a work which contains 44 pages of text and images plus one page each for Contents, Bibliography and Index.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Once over lightly June 29, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The thing to say about Osprey books up front is that we buy them for the pretty pictures, and any value in the surrounding text is a bonus. The series is rather uneven. They seem to be aggressively expanding their line into new subjects and new series the past few years, and this seems to be stretching the quality even thinner.

This book is an overview of the 12" Dreadnought-type battleships built by/for the Royal Navy: Dreadnought and the five classes/10 ships after her (Dreadnought, Bellerophon, Superb, Temeraire, Collingwood, St. Vincent, Vanguard, Neptune, Colossus, Hercules, Agincourt). It opens with some history of the battleships before Dreadnought, then goes lightly into the design considerations of Dreadnought and the following classes and provides their specifications. It then provides a short discussion on fire control in the period and other technical details. It ends with a summary of the wartime modifications of the ships and their operational history. That this is a little thin is understandable, all of these ships served for less than 20 years, but a great deal more could have been covered in these pages.

The book suffers, as do many Osprey titles, from the appearance that whoever laid out the book, made the tables, and wrote the captions never spoke with the author, which must really irritate them. For example, the caption for the Dreadnought cutaway calls it Jackie Fisher's "brainchild," when the author makes it clear that she was more the creation of DNC Sir Philip Watts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great descriptive narrative December 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mr. Konstam's books on naval ships usually not only show careful research along but also an understanding of the pluses and minuses for each specific class. This book is no exception. Knowing which destroyer could do what is important to those of us who like the "nuts and bolts" aspect of naval action. This volume, along with volume 2, will be invaluable quick reference sources for the times we'll be reading other's books and want to know missing specifics on the ships involved. IMHO, good bang for the bucks.
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More About the Author

With over 50 history books in print, Angus is a widely recognised and much-published historian. While he specialises in military and naval history he has also written numerous more general history books, designed to make the subject more accessible to a wider audience. Uniquely he has been able to draw on his expertise as a senior museum curator who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on his academic training as a historian and as a maritime archaeologist.

His latest book is a full-length biography: Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate, which is published by Wiley & Sons. of New York (June 2006)

Angus is also just finished writing a history of the Allied landings at Salerno in September 1943 for the British publisher Pen & Sword, and he is currently working on a new project, with the working title of Supership: The Quest for the Renaissance Battleship.

Angus lives in Edinburgh, in Scotland.

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