on 2 December 2012
I have to say I do not buy photo histories that often but this one worked for me.
Large format well illustrated, a good selection of photos of all the Capital ships (the light cruiser force is not covered in this book) , the physical production of the book is good, the photos clearly reproduced, captions are useful and appropriate. line drawings are good and text is well up to the job.
What I did find was that quite a few of the photos which appear were produced as postcards in wartime Germany but this does not in any way detract as they were very well composed.
The late Siegfried Beyer actually served in the Reichsmarine and was still writing about major warships- especially Russian and German ones- into his 80's. Frankly when I bought his 'Battleships and battlecruisers, 1905- 1970' nearly 40 years ago I was incensed by his blatent bias since it was implied that German designers could do no wrong. However, more than three decades later we find in this book by Breyer and his friend Miroslaw Skwoit a fascinating account covering both the virtues and deficiencies of the reichsmarine's ships. Their many virtues are well known, but the fact that they were largely designed upon dated WW1 principles is less so- in particular, both the Bismark and Scharnhorst designs featured multiple armoured decks set low in the hulls. During their last gunnery battles this deficiency doomed both of those ships to be rapidly turned into burning wrecks after all command and control had been lost. The text is intended to play only a 'supporting role' in this book, but it is well worth reading.
It is revealed how political interference- often directed by Hitler himself- spoiled designs and, more particularly, resulted in the disastrous deployment of the Reichsmarine's ships. For example, The famous 'Channel' dash was a brilliantly executed affair, but it consigned Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to strategic impotence for the rest of their war. One quibble- some of the plans presented have been reduced from a much larger size and a magnifying glass is required to study them closely. There are, however fine double page drawings of Gneisenau and Tirpitz and Breyers own drawings are, as always, admirable for their detail and accuracy.
All that and not a mention of the photo's! There really are hundreds of them, including many reproduced on a very large scale (sometimes a little too large for the quality of the originals). Overall, they are magnificent and show the ships from building to ultimate fate. One of the most poignant appears on pages 300- 301, showing Gneisenau in a sadly wrecked state: it's hard to believe how the fine and beautiful ship shown new on pages 252- 253 could have come to such an end just a few years later. In this collection apart from a lack of interior views (rarely photographed in those days) it is all here, including on- deck close ups, the crews at work and dramatic action shots. I did not realize that so many fine pictures existed.
Many of the photo's come from Seigfried Breyers own collection, put together over a lifetime of interest in this subject. £38 is quite a lot of money, but worth spending on this book, since it is actually rather more than what it says on the cover- 'The ultimare photograph album'.
This book contains an outstanding collection of historic photographs on the theme of German capital ships of WW2. As an example of what you can expect to find, there are 91 images of the Tirpitz alone spread over the 55 pages. Whilst there is also sufficient text to explain the background and history of each vessel, it is a combination of this high standard of selected photographs coupled with an equally excellent quality of reproduction which makes this book stand apart from the rest.
Described as "The Ultimate Photograph Album," I commenced by glancing through the entire work prior to settling down to study specifics. As I did so, I immediately learned how close Germany came to having an aircraft carrier. I was already aware that only four countries operated carriers at the beginning of WW2 - i.e. Royal Navy, US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy in addition to which the French also had the Béarn - although she did spend most of the war interned at Martinique.
What I did not previously know, however, was that Germany also came very close to completing the Graf Zeppelin and this book provides an excellent account of this particular ship. Whereas, the attack on Pearl Harbour, closely followed by the loss of HMS' Prince of Wales and Repulse, demonstrated to the entire world the effectiveness of air power against big ships - both in harbour and at sea, this book provides a further example of Hitler's military incompetence by revealing how he withdrew the funds required for completing the ship - which never was finished.
Elsewhere, there are accounts of other German ships - all of which are, as I say, fully supported by great photographs. More importantly, for those ships which I do know well I did not find any of the information lacking in any way.
Altogether, therefore, regard this as an outstanding work which is unlikely to disappoint anyone at all. With so many ships being photographed from just about every conceivable angle, it should also prove useful to serious ship modellers.
on 5 November 2014
Absolutely a masterpiece. Could not put it down when first delivered and had a complete browse of the whole book. There are so many images I have not seen before and as well as of use to students of the German Navy it is a must for model makers. Was able to obtain at well under the full retail price so well satisfied. Excellent companion to the authors vol on German Naval Guns.
on 17 June 2013
This book covers the main seven battleships / heavy cruisers and is without doubt the best book I have read that focuses on these most famous vessels. It is for the most part a picture album which covers each ship from laying down their hulls to their final moments of the war. The history of each ship is covered with each action covered in brief detail, but it is the magnificent collection of photos which make the book such a worth while purchase. It would be especially valuable to battleship model makers as there are good photos of each ships various camouflage markings as the war progressed as well as their structural updates. It you are in any way interested in these vessels then this book is a must purchase.
on 7 February 2014
i purchased this as an xmas gift for my son who not only has great interest in the battle ships of the second world war but also builds models of them he was so pleased with the detailed history plans and photos of each ship
on 28 December 2012
For those who have memories of,or an interest in, the war at sea in World War 2 this book is a must. Churchill rightly defined the Battle of the Atlantic as the critical campaign of the war. While the greater part of the German effort in this extended conflict involved submarines - U-boats - Germany had also built a state of the art surface Navy in the years immediately before is and as it started, the elements of which were second to none, and much superior most of their British counterparts. The threat posed by the seven capital ships which are the subject of this book, particularly the BISMARCK and the TIRPITZ, was of the first order to vulnerable shipping in the Atlantic, Norwegian and White seas, whether in convoy or not. While they remained afloat, they had to be contained or destroyed, hence the focus on that task of very substantial forces of the Royal Navy until this had been accomplished.
This book, with its brief but clear descriptions of the ships involved and their origins, accompanied by a wealth of photographs shows, illustrates vividly the nature of the threat involved.
on 31 December 2012
As a former navysailor Its not that strange that warships of any aera fasinates me.
The thing with this book is that i show the large german warships from any angel, exterior, closeups of the ships armament. But wat is most interesting are photos of some of the ships interrior. Almost all picturers of ex. Bismark are all but the same.
Tis book will I highly recomend for people who are devoted to the impressiv anat the same tim deadly beauties. Its massiv, an I have no book with so many and so rare pictures. So its to say if you are wondering buying a warshipbook Irecomend you to start with the letter A, as we say in Norway. Or an universal way of saying it .You must learn to crawl before you can walk. Ok,just kidding. But the book i not acctualy inexpensive. But are you a collector as I am, buy it. Ok it is inexpensive. The book will cost you the same as a good bottle of singel malt. Well, I hope you understod som of my norwegian-english
on 8 March 2014
My review probably echoes several others , because of that I will keep it brief.
The book is exactly what it says on the cover, a "Photo Album" . Good illustrations, well reproduced . Some rare,. others well known .
Full marks for that side of the publication.
However, I would agree with several others opinions that the book is a little thin on the technical aspects of these vessels, the text only adequate in the general depth of information.
I would also question it as regards "value for money" at some of its higher listed prices.
on 10 November 2012
The text of `German Capital Ships' concentrates the history rather than the technical aspects of these ships, but it is the photographs, culled from many different archives, which make this book outstanding.