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4.2 out of 5 stars
Ships of the American Revolutionary Navy (New Vanguard)
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Another slender volume from Osprey. . . . The focus here is the ships of the American Revolutionary War.

For a brand new country with an uncertain financial footing, a Navy is an expensive proposition. Nonetheless, the Congress decided that it was important to have a naval presence as a part of the war for independence. The end result was decidedly mixed. Some proposed ships were never built; others were but did not function well; still others made contributions in the revolutionary struggle.

This book proceeds as follows: It begins with the design and development of a navy. Sections examine shipbuilding in America, purchased ships from other countries, the desire to build 13 frigates, and a listing of ships authorized in 1776 and 1777.

Then, an operational history, showing the evolving navy in action. A key factor, of course, is when the French entered the war. Suddenly, the colonies had a major navy fighting on their side, transforming the Congress' strategy with respect to a navy.

What about the ships? I listing of ships authorized and built in the US (not counting ships manufactured elsewhere and purchased by the US) run from sloops-of-war (e.g., Ranger) to frigates (e.g., Randolph, Hancock, Warren, and Boston, among others) to a ship-of-the-line (America, which never saw service in the American navy--and was poorly manufactured anyway).

If you want a brief introduction to the Revolutionary American Navy, this is a good resource. . . .
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on April 11, 2014
For those like me who only knew the Bon Homme Richard, this book was an eye opener. The navy was born in combination with our nation, states sent ships, privateers, and pirates. The Richard was a french reject of atype known as an east indiaman, but all the other ships Hancock were new or at least younger, A good easy read!
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on November 3, 2015
Good book
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on May 25, 2015
A nice short book direct and to the point.
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on January 26, 2015
Osprey practically holds the patent on nicely illustrated nuts-and-bolts military history, and this 48-page work (their standard size) is well up to standard. The American colonies went into the Revolution with a well-established shipbuilding industry but they still had to scramble to try to take on the Royal Navy. At first, they had to depend heavily on armed merchantmen functioning as privateers, and some of the colonies themselves had small navies, mostly to control smuggling, but before long brigs and small frigates were coming off the way -- some of them already under construction on British naval contracts but now turned to colonial purposes. Other ships were purchased from France and Spain.
I knew about the BONHOMME RICHARD, of course, a two-decker, and the sloop-of-war RANGER, but I was surprised to discover fourteen frigates -- though several of them were burned while still under construction to avoid their capture. Full details, technical and operational, are given for all of them, with succinct biographies of their captains. Armaments and necessary strategy are both dealt with thoroughly. The reproduced painting and drawings, plus Tony Bryan's first-rate technical illustrations, are entirely what one expects from this publisher. This is a must-have for anyone interested in the American Revolutionary navy.
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on November 28, 2009
Although there have been a number of books that have dealt with the American Revolution at sea, particularly in regard to John Paul Jones and his Bonhomme Richard, references on the ships of the Continental Navy as a whole have been few and far between. Mark Lardas, who brings his experience as a naval architect, provides a very useful guide to these early American warships in Osprey's New Vanguard title on the subject. Overall, the book is graphically appealing, well-researched and provides a lot of information in a concise format. For readers looking for a good description of each and every major warship in the Continental Navy, along with a brief synopsis of their wartime service, this is it.

The author begins with a discussion of warship building in the American colonies, which were already building frigate-size vessels for the Royal Navy even before the Revolution. Herein the author provides several useful observations about American shipbuilding: American-built vessels were optimized for speed and were generally larger than similar European-built ships, but colonial vessels were often only built to last a decade or so. Once the Revolution broke out, Congress authorized the conversion of merchant vessels into warships but these ships were not sturdy enough to mount many guns or take substantial damage. In December 1775 Congress ambitiously authorized the construction of 13 frigates in American yards, although it took many years for most of these vessels to be completed. The author also notes the difficulty the infant U.S. Navy had in acquiring adequate cannons for these warships and the necessity to go to sea with mixed armament.

In the next 13-page section, the author discusses the operational history of the ships and the difficulty that the colonies had in putting together effective ships and crews. Although the navy performed well in the early years given its limitations, the colonies simply did not have the resources to conduct a sustained naval war against the greatest fleet on the planet. The author concludes, "the Continental Navy did not go away - it evaporated" and by the end of 1781 the fleet had only two frigates left. The final section provides a synopsis and data for each American warship, including the USS America - the only ship-of-the-line completed by the colonies but not finished until after the war. The volume has seven nice color plates by Tony Bryan: a profile of USS Hancock; the gun deck of USS Warren; the death of the USS Randolph; a 2-page cutaway of the Bonhomme Richard; flags and weapons; Ranger vs HMS Drake; USS Confederacy. The author also provides a glossary and a bibliography. For its size, this volume is an excellent reference.
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on April 1, 2014
The reviewer of 11/28/09 gives about as good an evaluation as one could expect, and there is little point in my parroting his remarks -- I'll simply endorse them, period. Especially given the size of the book, this is a truly wonderful introduction to the Revolutionary Navy of the infant U.S. A general survey and history is complemented by short descriptions of the ships constructed: a couple sloops, some sixteen frigates, and the ship-of-the-line America. Well illustrated and easy to follow, this is a marvelous little book.
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on November 10, 2014
great book
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