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Book Review
British Destroyers 1939-45
British Destroyers 1939-45 Pre-war classes
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Model Shipwrights

British Destroyers 1939-45 Pre-war classes is a new title from Osprey Publishing LTD. It reviews the 15 classes of "greyhounds of the sea" with which England entered WW2.

The book is authored by Angus Konstam and illustrated by Tony Bryan. Typical of Osprey's New Vanguard series it is 48 pages of content and in softcover. It is also available in PDF and ePUB formats. Osprey catalogues it as NVG 246 and the softcover is ISBN 9781472816368.

As Osprey introduces the book:
    The Royal Navy entered World War II with a large but eclectic fleet of destroyers. Some of these were veterans of World War I, fit only for escort duties. Most though, had been built during the inter-war period, and were regarded as both reliable and versatile. Danger though lurked across the seas as new destroyers being built in Germany, Italy and Japan were larger and better armoured. So, until the new, larger Tribal-class destroyers could enter service, these vessels would have to hold the line. Used mainly to hunt submarines, protect convoys from aerial attack, and take out other destroyers, these ships served across the globe during the war. This fully illustrated study is the first in a two-part series on the real workhorses of the wartime Royal Navy, focusing on how these ageing ships took on the formidable navies of the Axis powers.

With the continuing introduction of new model kits of destroyers of many combatants in several scales, this books should be popular with fans of destroyers in general, and Royal Navy destroyers in particular.

British Destroyers 1939-45 Pre-war classes is 48 pages in length. Their story is told through six chapters or sections:

    * Flotilla size and destroyer longevity

    * Function
    * Role
    * Common modifications
    * Weaponry
    * Sensors
    * Habitability
    * Appearance

    * Admiralty R-class destroyers
    * Admiralty S-class destroyers
    * Shakespeare- and Scott-class destroyer leaders
    * V- & W-class destroyers
    * V- & W-class (WAIR) conversions
    * V- & W-class destroyers (long-range escorts)
    * V- & W-class destroyers (unconverted)
    * A-class destroyer prototypes
    * A- & B-class destroyer leaders
    * A- & B-class destroyers
    * C- & D-class destroyers
    * E- & F-class destroyers
    * E- & F-class leaders
    * G-, H- & I-class destroyers
    * G-, H- & I-class destroyer leaders




Author Konstam presents an overview of the RN destroyer ("DD" in USN) in the first 16 pages. Those interested in the abilities and performance of early radar, sonar and weapons. It also discusses how wartime necessities increased the ships' compliments and how the RN adapted the ships for the greater number of sailors. In Appearance the author details the paints and camouflage patterns RN DDs used.

The bulk of the books (27 pages) examines each class, presenting:
    Ship name
    Pennant number
    Launch date
    Commission date

Each vessel's technical specifications are included:
    Capacity (fuel and resulting range)
    Armament (1939)

Explored further for each class is Wartime Modifications - very useful to modelers as not every ship was modified the same.

British Destroyers 1939-45 Pre-war classes is not an account of the service record of each ship. With over 100 ships in service at the beginning of the war, Destroyers In Action is understandably a cursory sampling of those early destroyers in combat. An account of destroyers off Dunkirk includes a first-hand account of destroyers verses Stukas and destroyers verses panzers, and finally destroyers verses U-boats. Just how up-close and personal destroyers got to the Dunkirk fighting is demonstrated in that the captain of HMS Keith was killed by a German sniper!

Art and Photographs
Osprey enhances the text with dozens of images. Royal Navy photographers exposed many excellent photographs and they are used in this book. Most are clear and reveal much detail of interest to modelers and artists. One fascinating image is of crewmen of a Russia convoy using axes to whack off ice completely encapsulating an anti-aircraft gun. While most of the images are small - less than 4 square inches - they present an amazing amount of detail, i.e., a 1945 shot of HMS Escapade clearly shows streaking that looks like an inexperienced modeler's first weathering attempt.

Dozens of tables and insets present the technical and clerical information previously mentioned.

One of the more popular aspects of Osprey books are is the artwork and this books does not forsake that. Behold 11 color plates created by artist Tony Bryan:
    A. Cutaway HMS Greyhound 1940, keyed to 30 components plus vital stats.

    B1. Profile: HMS Vega (1942) 'L41', coastal convey outfitting.
    B2. Profile: HMS Scimitar (1941) 'H21', convoy duty.

    C1. Vignette: HMS Bulldog (1944) 'H91', the ship that dominated U-110 and captured its Enigma machine.
    C2. Profile: HMS Hurricane (1940) 'H06', patrolling the Western Approaches.

    D. Action scene: Defender Under Air Attack Off Libya, 1941: Mediterranean naval clash veteran DD meets her end off Tobruk.

    E1. Profile: HMS Failknor (1942) 'H62', during Artic Convoy PQ-18.
    E2. Profile: HMS Echo (1942) 'H23', Arctic area.

    F. Action scene: H-Class Destroyers at the First Battle of Narvik, 1940: Commodore Warbourton-Lee's five DDs of 2nd Destroyer Flotilla attacks 10 German DDs with torpedoes.

    G1. Profile: HMS Griffin (1940) 'H31', in Norwegian waters.
    G2. Vignette: HMS Icurus (1942) 'I03', in Arctic service.

Those detailed renderings greatly enhance the book's textual and black-and-white content.

British Destroyers 1939-45 Pre-war classes is a fine primer for the subject. It is not meant as a comprehensive study of those early plucky ships. Within the constraints of 48 pages it contains detailed text. Eleven color illustrations greatly enhance the book's textual and black-and-white content.

If there is a downside to this book I do not recognize it. With the continuing introduction of new models of destroyers of many combatants in several scales, this books should be popular with fans of destroyers in general, and Royal Navy destroyers in particular. Recommended.

Please remember to mention to vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on Model Shipwrights .
Highs: Eleven color illustrations greatly enhance the book's textual and black-and-white content. Detailed text.
Lows: If there are any, I missed them.
Verdict: With the continuing introduction of new models of destroyers of many combatants in several scales, this books should be popular with fans of destroyers in general, and Royal Navy destroyers in particular.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472816368
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 23, 2017
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.


This looks to be a good reference; I've always found the wild array of British WWII era destroyers to be a bit bewildering...
MAY 23, 2017 - 03:08 AM

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