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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naval Weapons of WWI,
To anyone interested in the technical history and development of 20th and 21st century warships Norman Friedman will need no introduction. Along with Norman Polmar, Friedman is the most accomplished and authoritative warship author in the USA. Together their works are accepted world-wide as being reliable, accurate and without bias or prejudice.
This new work - an illustrated directory - by Friedman is the first comprehensive study on the naval weapons of the First World War. It covers guns, torpedoes, mines and ASW (anti-submarine weapons) of all major nations from the period, including Britain, Germany, Italy, the US, France, Russia, Japan, Austria, Spain and Sweden. Each weapon is described in detail, supported by photographs and/or line drawings or reproductions of original manufacturers draughts. In addition to drawings and photographs of the actual weaponms there are numerous photos of various types of warships. Naturally the section on gunnery is the largest as guns were, at the time, considered the prime naval weapon.
This book will undoubtedly become THE standard reference work on the subject and will prove invaluable to model makers. It also compliments other relatively recent works by Friedman covering the same period.
The quality of reproduction is excellent and the large format allows for drawings and photographs to be reproduced to a reasonable size, thereby allowing for maximum detail to be clearly shown.
It is refreshing to note that the dust jacket reproduction is from a painting by the renowned German marine artist Claus Bergen. It shows a German battlecruiser in action during what the RN refer to as the Battle of Jutland. Usually the dust jacket for a naval book on this period would have shown what are now over-used paintings by Wyllie or Wilkinson, etc. It's good to see something new in this respect!
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic book.,
This book, is more a reference book you dip into and read the bits that interest you. It covers naval weapons, mainly guns, from WWI. It does it in great detail for different callibres of guns for each Naval nation, accompanied by excellent drawings and photos. There are shorter sections on torpedoes, mines, mine-sweeping. My only gripe is that it does cover these other weapons in more detail.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in every way,
Every naval weapon of every WW1 navy you can think of - including neutrals - plus land artillery which went to sea on armed merchant ships. The book centres itself on WW1 but necessarily covers older weapons which were still in use. Depth charges, mines, torpedoes are all covered with notes on tactics and fire control. The consequences of the various nation's methods of gun barrel and breech construction are discussed in detail, and the variations in export equipments are explored.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity,
The genesis of this book lies with the late N J M (John) Campbell's notes for a companion volume to his book "Naval Weapons of WW2". While the author's preface states that this is his book, not Campbell's (whether this is simply a modest disclaimer or not isn't clear!), the latter's influence looms large over great swathes of the sections on the British, German and US navies which appear, from the focus of the material, to be taken largely from Campbell's notes. There is much new material: the section on US torpedoes, for example, is an absolute gem. It duplicates virtually nothing previously available (i.e. Jolie and Milford) and justifies the book's existence in its own right.
Other aspects are less successful. Friedman appears either not to have made much examination of Campbell's material or not to have understood it. Chunks appear out of sequence and under headings to which they're not especially relevant, especially relating to the evolution of British guns, making it diffult to understand (or easy to misunderstand) the course of events. Sometimes it makes sense if you already know the field, but how much a newcomer to the period would learn, and how much they might be led astray, is difficult to say. Sections on the lesser navies are taken largely from secondary sources, in some cases contemporary (for example, a Royal Navy intelligence assessment of dubious reliability features prominently in the minor navies sections) and in other cases fairly well known modern works. Someone who already has access to Rossler on German torpedoes, Shirakov on Russian guns, Milford on Japanese torpedoes, etc. etc. will already have the most or all of the material. The strength of this book is in collating, translating and making these sources readily available in one place to an audience that might not have the appetite or resources to track them down individually.
This is not, sadly, the definitive work on the subject that we all expected. It presents a substantial amount of new information, and makes available to the English-speaking audience an enormous amount of material that has previously not been easily accessible. It is broadly excellent overall, truly dire in a few places, and unreliable over large (but thankfully not especially important - in historical terms!) areas. To the neophyte, though, it will probably not be apparent which is which. Those with a serious interest in the subject will find that this book is essential reading, but does not replace any existing sources.
Overall, as in all Friedman's recent work, there is a marked tendency to rely on an easily accessible single source for each subject rather than breadth and depth of research (the single most astonishing feature of the book lies hidden away at the back - the bibliography tells its own sorry story - but I won't spoil the surprise). This is presumably a consequence of Friedman's ferocious publishing schedule. There would be nothing inherently wrong with this approach if contrasting and complementary work by others were available to give a fuller picture. However, Friedman's stature in this field, and the limited audience, means it's now unlikely we will ever get the in-depth, authoritative study that we might once have hoped for. Unless, of course, Friedman and the publisher undertake to correct the book's grosser deficiencies in a second edition (I'm not holding my breath).
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prepare for lockdown,
To say this is comprehensive is demeaning the word. It is obsessive; how anyone can get this much information from one hundred years ago is amazing. Not an easy read, the text is small and dense but for those with a penchant for the smallest detail it must be the standard reference. Something to dip into on a rainy day, or run a pub quiz on.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for info and pictures,
I have found this book to be laid out slightly confusingly it feels like less of a book and more a collection of essays. Still very useful for any student of Naval warfare.
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Naval Weapons of World War One by Norman Friedman