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Book Review
British DD vs German DD
British Destroyer vs German Destroyer Narvik 1940
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Model Shipwrights

Destroyers were the mixed martial arts fighters of naval warfare. The opening destroyer main event of World War Two was a clash of German destroyers and British destroyers off Norway. This book details the ships and sailors of the opponents, and recounts the confused battle that occurred.

British Destroyer vs German Destroyer Narvik 1940 is a new book from Osprey Publishing LTD. It is the 88th title of their Duel series. Authored by David Greentree and David Campbell, and illustrated by Paul Wright and Alan Gilliland, it is 80 pages long. It is available in softcover, PDF, and ePUB. The softcover is catalogued as ISBN 9781472828583, and by Osprey as DUE 88.

Osprey describes this book thusly:
    The opening months of World War II saw Britain's Royal Navy facing a resurgent German navy, the Kriegsmarine. Following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway in early April 1940, British and German destroyers would clash in a series of battles for control of the Norwegian coast. The operational environment was especially challenging, with destroyer crews having to contend with variable weather, narrow coastal tracts and possibility of fog and ship breakdowns.

    In two engagements at Narvik, the Royal Navy entered the harbour and attacked the loitering German destroyers who had dropped off mountain troops to support the German invasion. The raids were devastating, halving at a stroke the number at Hitler's disposal. Employing specially commissioned artwork and drawing upon a range of sources, this absorbing study traces the evolving technology and tactics employed by the British and German destroyer forces, and assesses the impact of the Narvik clashes on both sides' subsequent development and deployment of destroyers in a range of roles across the world's oceans.

British Destroyer vs German Destroyer is told through nine chapters in 80 pages:
    Design and Development
    The Strategic Situation
    Technical Specifications
    The Combatants
Selected Bibliography

Authors Greentree and Campbell prepare the story with an overview of Germany's need for iron ore that came down the Norwegian coast and Britain and Germany's concurrent plans to invade Norway. Design and Development begins by examining British and German destroyer concepts and designs between the world wars. Tonnage, weapons and weapon-laying equipment, propulsion, and seaworthiness are examined. Technical Specifications continues the comparisons and contrasts between the enemies.

The Combatants presents the recruiting and training of the sailors that manned the ships. I found this chapter quite interesting and surprising. Four biographical vignettes of British and German destroyer officers are presented: Bernard Warburton-Lee; Peter Gretton; Friedrich Bonte; Karl Smidt.

The main event, The Strategic Situation and Combat occupy 36 pages of this book. First-hand accounts are included. The authors do a remarkable job of describing a complex multi-stage dual engagement known as the First, and Second Battles of Narvik. The battles include U-Boats, a battleship, and carrier aircraft attacks. Those actions took place in confined waters of fjords, hampered by snow and fog. The chaos of the intense melee can be glimpsed here:
    Aboard Hotspur, Layman could see Hunter, on fire and missing the forward torpedo tubes, lose steam just as Hotspurís steering and communications were knocked out (Plevy 2008: 123). A shell landed on the bridge from which Layman had recently departed to give verbal orders to the engine room from the engine-room hatch near the ĎXí gun deck. Then Hotspurís bow cleaved into Hunterís hull and forward momentum spun them slowly around. Layman passed orders to the tiller in the stern and disentangled his ship from the sinking Hunter while under heavy fire from German destroyers (Plevy 2008: 123). At 0600hrs, the order to abandon ship was given on Hunter. Depth charges went off on board. All the lifeboats were smashed and there was no room on the Carley floats. Sailors went over the side and clung to whatever was available in an effort to stay afloat.

Analysis and Aftermath wrap up the consequences of the battles and presents lessons learned, objectively and subjectively.

This Duel title was hard to set down as I read it.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
An amazing gallery of photographs, artwork and graphics support the text. The photos are mainly black-and-white although there is a single pre-war color photo of a German destroyer and motor launch. The photos span the gamut of profiles to operational images, and even shots of the combats. Each photograph and illustration is narrated with useful captions.

Illustrators Paul Wright and Alan Gilliland have created original color artwork and detailed maps. They diagram the actions and supplement the textual descriptions of the personnel and ships, and create for the reader what photographers missed. This artwork is inspirational and instructional for modelers.


1. HMS Hero in profile and planform

2. HMS Bedouin in profile and planform

3. KM Z 11 Bernd von Arnim in profile and planform

4. KM Z 22 Anton Schmitt in profile and planform

5. British Destroyer Armament:
    a. QF 4.7in Mk IX gun
    b. 0.5in Vickers MG Mk III quadruple mount
    c. Mk IX 21in torpedo

6. German Destroyer Armament:
    a. 12.7cm SK C/34 gun
    b. 3.7cm SK C/30 anti-aircraft gun
    c. 53.3cm G7a T1 torpedo

7. Call-out box: Torpedo Effectiveness At Narvik: map depicting Royal Navy destroyers sortieing into Narvik Harbor.

8. Combat centerfold: view from Hunter's 'Y' turret moments before Hotspur collides with her.

9. Combat centerfold: Georg Thiele engaging the British with her four remaining main guns and last torpedo.


Furthermore, a pair of tables sums up hundreds of words in easy to digest data.

A. British destroyers at Narvik: basic specifications: table presenting class, displacement, range, armament, ships present at Narvik.

B. German destroyers at Narvik: basic specifications: table presenting class, displacement, range, armament, ships present at Narvik.

C. Map, British and German naval forces off the Norwegian Coast, 8-9 April, 1940: keyed to eight events with detailed explanation of ships in combat, and seven naval units.

D. Map, The first battle of Narvik, 10 April 1940: keyed to nine events, with detailed explanation of ships in combat.

E. The second battle of Narvik, 13 April 1940: keyed to seven events, with detailed explanation of ships in combat.

I think modelers will be inspired and educated by Osprey's British Destroyer vs German Destroyer Narvik 1940. The text is detailed and informative. It easily describes technical characteristics of the ships and qualities of the crews, plus the intricate confusion of a close-range naval action.

I do not have anything of consequence to complain about this book. I think it will be a valuable addition to modelers and enthusiasts of the Norway campaign, the Royal Navy and Kriegsmarine, destroyers, and naval battles. Recommended.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Model Shipwrights.
Highs: Great gallery of photographs, artwork and graphics to support the text. Detailed and informative text.
Lows: Nothing of consequence.
Verdict: I think it will be a valuable addition to modelers and enthusiasts of the Norway campaign, the Royal Navy and Kriegsmarine, destroyers, and naval battles.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: DUE 88
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 04, 2019

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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.


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