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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Indeed, all you need to know!!, 12 July 2013
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This review is from: HMS Rodney: Slayer of the Bismarck and D-Day Saviour (Warships of the Royal Navy) (Paperback)
An enthusiastic and colourful biography of one of the Navy's two "ugly ducklings". The author relies heavily on accounts from crew members which add to the feeling of proximity to the subject. The author's enthusiasm leads him to overstate his case a bit, notably the notion that Rodney's 16 inch guns were in a league apart from any other battleships. In contrast we are told that the 14 inchers on the more modern battleships were puny. Hence Rodney slew the Bismarck while King Geore V may have also scored a few hits. This is disregarding the fact that Prince of Wales got the most telling (14 inch) hit during the battle of the Denmark strait (in which the Hood was sunk), as it was this hit that caused a major fuel leak that forced Lutyens to turn for home. By the time Rodney arrived, Bismarck was "dead in the water" and couldn't manoeuvre. Anyway, none of this distracts from a pleasant and entertaining book which is full of quirky anecdotes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a Must Read book, 16 July 2012
This review is from: HMS Rodney: Slayer of the Bismarck and D-Day Saviour (Warships of the Royal Navy) (Paperback)
I was reading Anthony Beevor's `The Second World War' when my attention was drawn to this paperback edition of Ballantyne's 2008 book on HMS Rodney. I had previously read, and been deeply impressed by `Killing the Bismarck', so I anticipated another good read.

In a quiet moment I started to browse the first few pages but continued reading to the end.

It is rare for a historical research-type book to be a page-turner but Ballantyne has achieved this. The reason is that, while he paints the big picture and provides the expected detail of his subject within it - and he is a meticulously researcher - he also tackles it from the bottom up, so to speak. The sheer volume of personal reminiscences he is able to quote aids this. The broad sweep of history is, in the end, defined by the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. This first person approach brings the whole book to life and, as one begins to become familiar with the recurring names, moves it into a quite different genre of military history book, more akin to an autobiography of a ship written by its crew.

The book is about all six ships of the name and has some very interesting material about the earlier ones. The description of a public hanging from the yardarm in Grand Harbour, Malta captures the theatricality that it was clearly meant to convey. The Navy hung many men at the yardarm but not normally with a watching audience of thousands.

The meat lies in the stories of the great battleship, of course - and what stories they are; many of them are well known of course - the Invergordon mutiny, sinking Bismarck and Operation Pedestal to relieve Malta. The account of Rodney's three weeks anchored off the D-day beaches providing gunfire support to the Allied landing forces in Normandy (while under constant attack from every quarter) makes for riveting reading. It is interspersed with anecdotes by crewmembers being shown the battlefield, under fire, their hosts being friendly Allied soldiers. One junior officer on a sightseeing tour ashore takes a look at the Bayeux tapestry - a rather more previous amphibious landing.

There are other themes that run through the book that are less eye catching but of considerable historical interest

* The Press frequently wrongly ascribed Rodney's deeds to her sister ship Nelson (plus ca change?).
* The constant battle to keep the old lady going (even in straight line) was a problem!
* The almost matter of fact acceptance of own aircraft being hit by friendly fire in the intense heat of battle.
* The pragmatism that constant war induces so that the mundane detail of daily life often receives more diary space than the threat posed by the enemy.

This is most definitely a must read book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It was a scrapper from day one..........., 25 July 2014
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Yes it was a scrapper alright it was a total bodge and we built two of them we must have been crazy to build them they should have named H.M.S Rodney... Frankenstein and the Nelson H.M.S. Quasimodo. But The Rodney just like it's twin Nelson did exactly what was intended of them and they both it did it very well - if very slowly and Rodney scrapped the Bismarck and finished it.

My old workmate Edward Baggeley was on The Rodney he said he knew of a guy who was castrated when it fired a 16 inch half-broadside because the ceramic? toilet pan he was sat on at the time exploded into thousands of viciously sharp pieces.Sixteen inch guns were just too much for the technology of the time all sorts of bits and pieces ... even the rivets and bolts holding the ship together - the ship literally started disintegrating every time it fired. The Rodney and The Nelson couldn't fire a full 16 inch broadside because the recoil from it's 16 inch guns would do so much severe damage to the ship so they did things by halves - but that half broadside was more than enough to settle the opposition!

I didn't know the Rodney had oxygen fuelled torpedoes just like the superb Japanese Long Lance which was the best torpedo in the world until at least 1945 and perhaps much later The Japanese navy had given up trying to produce an oxygen fuelled torpedo till in a pre-war visit to the Rodney indicated to the Japanese that the Royal Navy already had them. This revelation re-started a serious concerted effort by Japanese technicians and scientists aiming at perfecting the Long Lance torpedo this inspired weapon proved to be very effective and for the Japanese Navy it was a regular battle-winner. The Rodney used its special torpedoes against the Bismarck and some reports indicate the Bismack was struck by at least one.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most complete work., 30 Jan 2013
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Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HMS Rodney: Slayer of the Bismarck and D-Day Saviour (Warships of the Royal Navy) (Paperback)
As the illustration on the book's cover reveals, this is a book about the mighty battleship HMS Rodney but, in getting to the subject itself, author Iain Ballantyne provides the reader with 42 fascinating pages of previous Royal Navy vessels of the same name. The first HMS Rodney, for example, was a cutter, the second a 16 gun brig-sloop. With the next being a 74 gun 3rd rate ship of the line and the one after that sporting 92 guns, a picture is painted whereby each successive ship to bear this illustrious name was destined to be larger than its predecessor.

The penultimate Rodney was a Battleship of 10,300 tons launched in 1884 and sold in 1909. Whilst a Battlecruiser of 33,600 tons was ordered in 1916 - as a sister ship to the famous HMS Hood, she was cancelled long before completion. The last HMS Rodney, the subject of this book, was a Battleship of 33,900 tons launched in 1925 and scrapped in 1948 after a career as equally as illustrious as the Admiral after which she was named.

The thing I like most about this book is the attention to detail. HMS Rodney was the last British warship launched with an ornate figurehead - a bust of Admiral Rodney of course. Elsewhere, we learn that, not only was a Royal Marine hanged in 1837 from the yardarm of a previous HMS Rodney, but we also learn much about the implications of his death because he was an Irishman. Whilst that particular incident may be of small consequence to those with an interest in the battleship itself, I mention it in order to underline the fine attention to detail contained within.

This is a book which will reveal something to almost everyone who thought they knew all there was to know about this once great ship. This was one of the capital ships which finally sank the Bismarck, this is the ship which was commanded by Cunningham and later by Tovey - long before they became admirals themselves.

It is a work of supreme research and fascinating insight and I congratulate the author on an excellent achievement.

NM
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HMS Rodney, 3 April 2013
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This review is from: HMS Rodney: Slayer of the Bismarck and D-Day Saviour (Warships of the Royal Navy) (Paperback)
The life and times of an important ship.A well writon history, helps you to understand how and why events in the second world war were as so. A good read
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Biography of the Legend HMS Rodney., 12 Jun 2014
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A marvelous book that is the most complete biography of a mighty ship that is fast becoming forgotten by the once great nation that HMS Rodney.

This ship, along with her sister HMS Nelson, both had an interesting start to life. Their initial designs were for a longer ship but due to the Washington Treaty of 1922 that imposed all kinds of limitations on the Royal Navy, the design was shortened to save weight and keep all three of the triple turrets. This then forced the turrets to be placed together on what seemed a longer than usual bow, the superstructure was then placed further back where the usual "X" or "Y" turret would be located, and secondary high angle / low angle guns were placed around the superstructure.

This design had the unfortunate consequence in a reduction of speed as the proper amount of boilers could not be fitted to the shortened design and Rodney remained underpowered all of her operational life. The turrets and engines rooms being so close together worked out well from the point of view of armour, all of these critical areas were essentially sealed in an armoured box giving better protection and also a weight saving.

The Nelson class ships were the first and only British ships to mount massive 16" guns, and both ships carried a total of 9 in three triple gun turrets!! In fact, when she first fired her guns, their blast was so explosive they caused structural damage to the ship, so this resulted in the guns being fired in alternation to minimise damage.

In Scotland during the 30's her crew took part in the famous pay dispute that led to Mutiny, but it was World War 2 were Rodney came into her own. She and Nelson became the most in demand ships in the fleet due to their huge hitting power, and saw pretty much continuous service. She took part in the defence of Britain during the fear of invasion, convoy duties guarding merchant shipping such as with Operation Torch, she hunted for German Pocket Battleships which when found, ran from the battle when they saw it was the 16" Rodney. She took part in the Italian landings and provided bombardment duties during the D-Day landings. But, it is for for one action that Rodney will and should be remembered, the avenging of HMS Hood by the destruction of the German Battleship Bismarck. Rodney is also distinguished by being the only British Battleship ever to fire on home soil.

Rodney ended her days at anchor in Scapper Flow, later to be scrapped in 1948 despite all the protests that Churchill voiced to turn her into a museum ship.

The book goes into exceptional detail of the ship, life on board and all the major events concerned with her life. Many tragic and funny stories are told, the lives of the crew are explored and we get graphic details of Rodenys most famous action against the Bismarck. There are eye witness accounts, pictures and just about all the information you will need on the magnificent ship, nothing is left out.

Highly recommended read, please do download or purchase and pay homage to his might old lady of the waves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 1 Jun 2014
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This review is from: HMS Rodney: Slayer of the Bismarck and D-Day Saviour (Warships of the Royal Navy) (Paperback)
Book was in excellent condition when it arrived and thus far a good read. Lots of points I hadn't realised about the Rodney and well worth a rerad.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, 13 May 2014
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Found this book well written and engaging from the first page, with the use of memories from serving members and crewmen of this great ship gives a real insight as the what life was like aboard her during peacetime and in battle, could not bring myself to put it down once I had started I read for at least three hours a day. Definitely a five+ star rating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars what a story, she should have been preserved at Portsmouth with Victory and Warrior!!, 1 April 2014
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Terrific book I read it from start to finish with awe and respect for the men and the ship herself. I wish I had had the chance to serve in her with them!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well reviewed, 18 Dec 2013
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This review is from: HMS Rodney: Slayer of the Bismarck and D-Day Saviour (Warships of the Royal Navy) (Paperback)
A well reviewed book, which I am really enjoying. It has good detail and accuracy. It covers the history of the events well.
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