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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much everything you could ask for, 17 Jan 2003
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia (Hardcover)
A glance at the table of contents shows that there were a lot of cruisers in World War II! Ships are listed for 18 countries, of which Great Britain had the greatest number of distinct classes - 20 in all, although the USA certainly had more ships. The cruisers described in this book varied enormously in size, from the Japanese Yubaris (under 3000 tons) to the massive American Alaska class - battlecruisers in all but name at 30,000 tons, and hardly inferior to the undergunned German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. And then there were the Royal Navy's cruisers: typically medium sized, stoutly constructed to go anywhere and survive any seas, often old-fashioned in appearance but respected by friends and enemies.
This is a fine thick book that gives masses of details, together with diagrams and photographs. Quite apart from its intrinsic merit, it is ideal for flattening out curled-up papers or cardboard! As well as a bibliography and index, it has a short (4 page) introduction that gives a quick history of the cruiser type in the First and Second World Wars, and even shows the numbers of WWII cruisers lost in various ways - 10 Japanese and 20 British ships, for example, were sunk by aircraft attack.
One of the most interesting themes that emerges is the naval architects' frenzied quest for the ideal compromise between speed, striking power, protection and range. For a while, this was further complicated by the requirements of the Washington treaty with its (often infringed) 10,000 ton limit. The German Hipper class weighed in at 14,500 tons; the Italian Zaras at 11,700; and the Japanese Tone and Chikuma at 11,200. Sometimes there was a price to pay - the Hippers' machinery was prone to break down, and several of the larger Japanese cruisers were lacking in hull strength and stability. The Zaras, ironically enough, had nearly twice as much armour as the preceding Trento class; ironically because, when they were put to the test, it was by the 15-inch guns of Admiral Cunningham's battleships at Matapan, and they might just as well have been wrapped in tissue paper.
Although the coverage of most classes described is thorough and detailed, one or two mysteries remain. For instance, what were the circumstances surrounding "the loss of Tomozuru on 12 March 1934"? Tomozuru itself is not listed in this book, no doubt because it was lost before the outbreak of the Second World War.
British patriots and admirers of the Royal Navy will be delighted to read of the achievements of British cruisers, of which the Battles of the River Plate, First and Second Sirte, the Barents Sea and North Cape were only the tip of the iceberg. As Alastair Maclean noted in his best-selling debut novel "HMS Ulysses", the battleships might be bigger and stronger, but the cruisers did most of the actual patrolling and fighting - and dying.
For naval enthusiasts - especially those interested in the Second World War - this book is not to be missed. More especially since Amazon is offering it for less than a third of the price shown on the dust cover of my copy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cruisers of World War Two, 1 Mar 2010
B. Michael Shimmin (Isle of Man) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia (Hardcover)
This book is what it says on the cover, an encyclopedia. If you are wanting details of these fine fighting ships then this is an excellent book, but it neccessarily follows that it is to be used to obtain information and not as a gripping read. Buy it on that basis and I do not think you will be dissappointed.
I have read about these ships extensively and this book seems to me to be extensively researched and accurately written with extensive and very good photographs.
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Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia
Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia by M.J. Whitley (Hardcover - 1 Jan 2000)
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