Other reviews have given excellent descriptions of this magnum opus, so I will just compare it with the original 1993 edition that I was lucky enough to acquire at that time- can that really have been 19 years ago? There are probably other owners of the original book wondering whether or not they should buy this new one.
The new edition is in a somewhat larger format: It does not appear to be very much bigger, but in combination with 18 extra pages it actually makes a remarkable difference. There are some 70 or so additional photographs, many showing 'on deck' scenes and some replacing previous ones with similar but better shots. The overhead view of Warspite (surely the greatest of all British 20th century battleships) on page 98 in my opinion takes the prize amongst the new pictures. Moreover, it is remarkable how great the impact can be of simply increasing the size of an existing picture and slightly improving the reproduction. Take, for example, the shot of Hood at sea, pages 306- 7 in the old book, and presented as a full double page 'spread' on pages 314- 15 in the new one. The latter is quite spectacular- perhaps the finest in the book- yet I hardly noticed it in the old edition.
The text does not seem to have been much changed, and of course like others I cannot understand the continuing absence of Vanguard, our last battleship, but the format is more modern and attractive. The excellent drawings are all much the same as before, but sometimes appear in rather different locations.
All considered I'm very pleased I bought this new edition- it provides a fascinating comparison with the old one and transforms what was always a very fine book into a quite outstanding one- and at £29 from Amazon it is almost ridiculously good value.
on 6 April 2012
The 1993 first edition of this book by R. A. Burt has long eluded me, the result of the hundreds of dollars that a second hand copy demands. As a long time battleship (BB) and battlecruiser (BC) enthusiast, I always felt that my collection was incomplete without this particular book. When this new revised edition was available for pre-order, I had no hesitation ordering months before its publication. At the price it is a no brainer. In fact, I ordered copies from both the Amazon site and the Amazon UK site to make sure that I would get it at the earliest possible time (and I have no intention to return any of the copies). Now that the book has arrived, I am very pleased with my decision, as this book is an authoritative reference on British BBs and BCs for the period after World War One.
In my opinion, this is one of the two masterpieces on this subject, the other being Alan Raven and John Roberts' (R&R) British Battleships of World War 2: The Development and Technical History of the Royal Navy's Battleships and Battlecruisers from 1911 to 1946. Other works pale in comparison. The two books have many things in common, in particular their focus on the design of the ships and their changes over time. Thus, it does not surprise that the contents of the two books overlap quite a bit, and both contain a lot of excellent information, photos and line drawings. Nevertheless, I still believe any BB/BC enthusiast like me could not be wrong getting both Burt's book and R&R's book.
Both books cover Renown, Repulse and Hood in addition to the Queen Elizabeths, Royal Sovereigns, Rodney, Nelson, and King George Vs. Highlight of the key differences between Burt's and R&R's:
(1) The BB/BC classes pre-dating the Queen Elizabeth class BB are covered by Burt but not by R&R, i.e. the 13.5" gunned BB/BCs such as the Iron Dukes and Tiger. R&R starts with the QE class BBs.
(2) The light battlecruisers (Glorious, Courageous, and Furious) and their new lives as aircraft carriers are covered by Burt but not by R&R.
(3) R&R has a lot of details on the designs that were never built/completed, e.g. G3, N3, and the Lion Class BB. Only the G3 is briefly mentioned in Burt's book.
(4) Vanguard is covered by R&R but not by Burt, who ended his book with the King George V class BBs.
(5) Burt covered the ships class by class. R&R first by the time period and then class by class. Both ways have their goods and bads.
(6) Burt gave a rather short conclusion and spent paragraphs defending the British designs, with virtually no comparison with foreign counterparts. R&R provided a much more in-depth comparison of post-treaty British BB with foreign counterparts together with his conclusions, though some new information became available after the book had been written.
(7) While there are many excellent drawings in Burt's book, they span at most just the two adjacent pages with a gap in between. On the other hand, R&R has many even larger profile and deck plan drawings in fold-outs, of a similar high quality.
It also puzzles me a bit why sometimes there are minor discrepancies between the two books, even though this revised edition by Burt is more than 30 years later than that by R&R. Neverthless, most of the times they agree with each other. They both have details/opinions that are not found in the other and complement each other quite well.
All in all, this book contains lots of information. Get this book and you would not regret, as long as you are interested in BB/BC of this period. If you do not already have R&R's book, this book is an absolute must. It worths every dollar spent.
on 10 May 2012
This is not really a history book about British battleships. It is an encyclopedia on the subject with far more detail that anything else published. The Amount of information is staggering and it is a book that you will return to again and again to find that detail that you have been wondering about. Almost everything is here and to add more detail you would have to list all crew members through the years in order to push the scope of the book.
For me the most interesting things in the book is the detailed operational histories. The Level of analysis of the battle damage of various mines or torpedo hits is unbelievable. Sometimes you wonder if these ships were hit in engagement that you read about but "normal" history books do not tell you. Here you are informed of any hit, independent of how small it might be. I have for some unknown reason missed the fact that submersibles have been down to HMS Hood and to HMS Prince of Wales and tried to evaluate the damage done to them. I would have loved to see pictures of those expeditions.
For some reason there is a chapter on early aircraft carriers. It is logical that if they were built on battleship hulls to include them in the book but Mr Burt have included all of them even if they are not related to battleships. Not that I complain but it seams odd considering that he has omitted the worlds last battleship HMS Vanguard. Not to have Vanguard in such a book is as if you were writing about The Beatles but fail to mention their last record "Let It Be".
But apart from that minor detail this is a book you will be proud to have in your library and one you will return to again and again. I will definitely buy his "British Battleships of World War One" as soon as it is published.
The original version of this classic work was first published in 1993 and was so well received was soon out of print. This revised version contains no fewer than 70 new photographs - many of which have not been previously published.
As one who also conducts professional research into historic ships, my first impression of this work was an immediate admiration of the outstanding detail which is included. Having now studied much of the content, I have concluded this is most probably `the' most comprehensive work on the subject of the British battleship ever produced and I really must congratulate both author and publisher on a fine product.
The minor differences between two sister ships are what makes those ships different from each other. In addition, the changes made during a refit are often sufficient to produce an almost different vessel altogether. As an example of such differences, across pages 102-103 are two line drawings of HMS Valiant - from 1924 and 1940 respectively. Of course, 16 years is a long time in the life of any warship and these two images reveal two virtually different battleships altogether. Alongside, the author has also included line drawings of other significant features depicting changes and other minor details such as; 1925 small RF fitted, 1932/33 training catapult and aircraft added, 1943 long upper yard fitted and so forth.
Elsewhere we find line drawings of most, if not all the ships covered by this book, cross sections, anti-torpedo bulges, armour layout, various types of early radar aerial, a potted history of battleship camouflage and much more besides. In short, this book is generously supported by many more line drawings, hundreds of high quality photographs, details of every aspect of these ships - including those which were converted to aircraft carriers, and all the particulars and descriptions required.
This is an excellent work which anyone with an interest in the overall subject will wish to own - including those serious model makers whose only interest is accuracy of detail and, whilst I am not given to predictions, I somehow think this definitive work will also soon become out of print.
on 24 April 2012
I was delighted to find this book was being re-ssued, and ordered it about a year ago. It has not disappointed me. The book is a revised edition of the original, but I would guess, not having the first edition, the revisions deal mainly with the recent expeditions to the sites of the wrecks of HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales. The title is a bit misleading too as the book omits HMS Vanguard. Nevertheless this is a fine book for naval enthusiasts and modellers alike.
For naval enthusiasts, there are detailed descriptions in the text of ship-refits, equipment fitted, differences between ships in the same class, weapons and armour fitted, and ship histories. However, one minor quibble for me is some of the battle-damage reports, interesting in their own right, are incomplete. It seemed odd to me to include the bomb damage to HMS Prince of Wales on 31 August 1940, and omit the damage she suffered during the Battle of the Denmark Straits.
Modellers will find there are plenty of photographs to use as resources, and some fine line drawings too. Some are spread over two pages with the inevitable gap in the middle, but this should not put off potential buyers.
Overall, this book is worth buying, and an excellent complimentary text to Raven and Roberts British Battleships of World War 2, sadly out of print in English and, which costs and arm and a leg on the second-hand market. I liked Burt's book so much, I ordered the companion volume for World War 1. All I have to do now is wait.
on 13 March 2012
I'm very glad to see this reprinted, formerly it would have been like gold dust if you could find an original 1993 copy at this price. One of the definitive works on the subject, second only to the now-priceless Raven and Roberts magnum opus, British Battleships of World War II.
Ostensibly covering the time period 1919-39, there is also some very nice summary material on the development of British dreadnoughts from the turn of the 20th Century, with small scale line drawings and summaries of the development of the battleship through to the end of the First World War.
The main subject matter covers the Queen Elizabeth, Royal Sovereign, Nelson and King George V classes, although there are numerous references to most British dreadnought, battleship and battlecruiser classes from 1900-1945. As well as many excellent photographs, there are some very nice line drawings showing evolution of various ships in each class throughout their development. The text is very accessible, and written in a lucid and almost jovial style which communicates the author's great enthusiasm for the subject.
Burt presents the histories, construction and armour characteristics of the various classes, and provides detailed damage reports of each ship's wartime career which I found to be one of the most interesting aspects of the book.
A marvellous book written by the enthusiast for the enthusiast. I'd grab one while you can!
on 29 June 2015
In reviewing a major book like this that is designed to be a definitive history, the crucial question is: could a future author reasonably attempt to do the same job again? In this case, the only honest answer must be a resounding "no". With this book Mr Burt has set the bar so high that while future authors will be able to write specialist histories on particular aspects of the subject, it is very hard to imagine anyone bringing anything much new to another general history of British battleships in the inter-war and ww2 period.
I won't waste readers' time in attempting to describe the excellent contents of the book, which most potential readers will be familiar with, but will only say that a particularly treat is the way in which the author has delved into various trials carried out in the aftermarth of the first and second world wars, which have not been widely covered elsewhere.
That said, this book is not above criticism. Photos and drawings carried across two pages do not work very well and at times the arrangement of material could perhaps be improved; for example, would the individual ship histories be better placed in an appendix? In other places there is sometimes a lack of detail that the reader might have found useful; it would, for instance, have been interesting to have had some material relating to the postwar deliberations as to the fate of the KGVs. And there is an interesting summing up chapter at the end of the book that might easily have been expanded.
The major complaint, however, is that for want of extending the period covered by another year, Vanguard is not included as she should have been, thus concluding the battleship story with the type's final British development. The ship can hardly warrant a book to herself, yet it is hard to see how this ship can be now be integrated into Mr Burt's existing series of books.
Nonetheless, this is certainly a book to buy if you have any more than a superficial interest in major British warships or naval history in general. It is good vaue at the price and even considering its minor flaws, will not disappoint even the most critical reader.
on 24 February 2014
This is a masterpiece of research. Valuable information simply pop out of every single page.
This work is a must for naval historians, war researchers and, not the least, warship modellers.
Images and drawings alone make it money's worth. The photograps are treasures, most of them never seen before. Moreover, the photographs have been brilliantly re-worked making them invaluable sources of information and a great pleasure to look at.
on 24 May 2016
I have been scratchbuilding British capital ships at 1:192 (16th inch to 1 foot) for 40 years now. I purchased original editions of R A Burt's British Battleships of World War One (1986), British Battleships 1889-1904 (1988), and later his British Battleship 1919-1939 (1993) as aids to reading and understanding plans (both those drawn especially for modelmakers AND originals from the NMM), and for producing extremely fine detail. All three were excellent publications. I can only say that these updated versions, with extra/revised text plus a occasional new photos, and printed on better quality paper, excel the originals. If I were able to award above five stars, then indeed I would.
on 11 July 2015
I originally bought this book to help with building a Tamiya 1:350 scale model of the King George V, the book is in excellent condition and arrived the day after I placed the order (Placed the order Friday, it arrive the Saturday). Needbooks? Were exceptionally helpful and I will definitely be buying from them in future.
The book itself is excellent, containing many images that I've never seen before and a very comprehensive history of the British Battleship between the years specified. As a model enthusiast and Naval enthusiast this is a definite essential in any collection.