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British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War Hardcover – 30 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Seaforth Publishing; First printing. edition (30 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848320493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848320499
  • Product Dimensions: 24.5 x 2.6 x 28.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 521,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

NORMAN FRIEDMAN is arguably America s most prominent naval analyst, and the author of more than twenty books covering a range of naval subjects, from warship histories to contemporary defence issues. His latest book, Firepower, covering battleship gunnery and fire control, was an instant success and quickly reprinted.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Taylor on 3 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is Norman Friedman's long awaited "pre-quel " to his well acclaimed " British Destroyers and Frigates -the Second World War and After "

It's been well worth the wait - the book is truly one of the greats.

Starting in the 1870's with the genesis of the torpedo boat, the book goes through to the last of the classic British destroyers, the "I" class of the 1935-36 program. Details and photos of the Second World War modifications to the pre-1937 British ships, and the ex-American flush deckers are also included. Not only are the Destroyers themselves covered but also the gun-boat, catcher, and light cruiser types associated with anti torpedo boat tactics and destroyer history.

The book is the long overdue filling of a vacuum. With the exception of the V and W classes, and David Lyons book on the turtlebacks, no serious specific work has been done which adequately covers the pre 1925 destroyers since R.D. Manning's " British Destroyers " of almost fifty years ago. (A veil will be drawn over Edgar March's book of 1966, except to say it has good photographs ! ).

What do you get for your money ?

(a) The best account yet of the convoluted history of anti-torpedo boat strategy and the evolution of the destroyer from a coast offence/defence ship to a fleet vessel.A far more complex story than I personally had realised, showing unexpected light on many other facets of the pre 1920's naval scene.

(b) A magnificent collection of photos, many of which, coming from US sources (probably ex ONI/USNISC ), are new to most of us. Printing quality is superb, and the choice excellent. A few are guttered over two pages but done reasonable well so little of the photo has actually been lost in the crease.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Bradshaw on 26 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Norman Friedman is rightly revered as one of the foremost naval writers of not just this era but of any era therefore expectations are always high when picking up one of his books. This one does not disappoint (not that any of his others have ever disappointed either!) and along with the companion volume on destroyers and frigates of the second world war and after is set to be the standard reference work on the subject. The destroyer evolved from the torpedo boat and torpedo boat catchers and evolved into the principal surface warship of the worlds navies, eclipsing the big gun capital ship. From humble beginnings the destroyer grew in size and capability from ships with a very narrowly defined purpose to the advanced ships which became the backbone of the fleet. This book covers the early part of this journey, whilst a book on British destroyers in reality it is a good guide to the development of the destroyer generally given the Royal Navy's role in developing the type in the era covered by the book. The self propelled torpedo was a truly revolutionary weapon which de-coupled destructive power from ship size. Men of war needed heavy guns and carried heavy armour to withstand bombardment from such guns, driving ships sizes upwards with obvious implications for cost. The torpedo transformed ship design as no longer was it necessary for effective fire power to be predicated on large guns needing equally large hulls, as such it set the trend which has continued through to the warships of today albeit by use of missiles and radar detection/evasion rather than by use of torpedoes. As ever, Friedman looks at context of why the ships were developed, the history and evolution of their design and considers the strategic/tactical issues affecting them.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Bradley on 13 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At this rate Norman Friedman will have written a book on every warship to grace the Royal navy before:as they used to say: the ink dries on these pages. What we have here is a well researched volume that will not look out of place on any warship enthusiast, historian or model makers bookshelf. In essance he traces the history of warships built for the anti-torpedo boat role from the 1880's untilthe start of the Second World War. We are lead from frail, early, river launch, like torpedo boats to vessels that contined to grow in size and power. Torpedo boats that sacrificed their torpedo tubes for a heavier armament are covered and this leads us onto a good section that starts with torpedo cruisers and continues in great detail with their half sisters: the torpedo gunboats. That said, we now pass onto the early 26 knot prototypes and 27 knotters, 30 knotters, Rivers and so on. In common with many of his other, similar books, Mr Friedman always introduces us to various foreign contemporaries, especially when built by British builders, and these are often well illustrated. Further chapters follow this pattern until the start of the Second World War. There are some surprises. For example: there are several pages tracing the development of the scout cruiser/flotilla leader concept of the mid 1900's.
Books of this kind however will never fully satisfy "armchair admirals" like myself and any criticisums are purely personnal in nature. I would have liked the 1930's Tribals included and the ex US destroyers excluded. The latter would have been fine when being used to compare with the V/W Classes, but there seems to be a lot of space devoted to these ships that were never meant to be fleet destroyers in the accepted sense.
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