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German Battleships 1939-45 (New Vanguard) [Paperback]

Our Price $ 15.26  
Retail Value $ 17.95  
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Item Number 347498  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   48
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 7" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2003
Publisher   Osprey Publishing
ISBN  1841764981  
EAN  9781841764986  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In this, the first of a five volume series covering the capital ships of the German Navy of World War II, Gordon Williamson examines the design, development and operational use of the battleships used by the Kriegsmarine. The ‘Schlesien' and ‘Schleswig-Hostein' were used mostly as training ships until the end of the war when they took part in bombardment of Soviet troop movements in East Prussia. The ‘Scharnhorst' had a successful career until her sinking at the battle of the North Cape, and the ‘Gneisenau' with her ignominious end as a block-ship. Bismarck's short but glorious career and Tirpitz's lonely vigil in Norway's distant Fjords until sunk by RAF bombers using the massive 'Tallboy' bombs are also covered.
Gordon Williamson was born in 1951 and currently works for the Scottish Land Register. He spent seven years with the military Police TA and has published a number of books and articles on the decorations of the Third Reich and their winners. He is author of a number of World War II titles for Osprey.

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Gordon Williamson was born in 1951.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Germany > General   [24579  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Military > Naval   [958  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General   [2794  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > Naval   [352  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [101287  similar products]

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'German Battleships 1939-45' by Gordon Williamson, has for discussion one of the most eternally fascinating topics in military history: THE GERMAN BATTLESHIPS OF WORLD WAR 2!!!! Somehow, this awesome topic is given a very generic and, in many ways, careless treatment throughout this text.

WANT MORE ---- [the double-sided cutaways are this book's best feature]

The stats within this text are so poorly edited -- I say edited because I don't believe any author could list the Bismarck's draught at 0.2 meters [top of page 29 under 'SPECIFICATIONS'] -- that I can't seriously believe anything I have read within this rather pricey, mini paperback.


The chapter about the 'PRE-DREADNOUGHT' Battleships that the Versailles Treaty imposed on the Germans is incredibly titled; "THE DREADNOUGHTS"! The ships here include the Schleswig-Holstein and her sisters. All the German ships (which were DREADNOUGHTS) scuttled following the Armistice were much more capable and modern than these pre-DREADNOUGHTS which remained (and that the author is passing off as DREADNOUGHTS).

The effect of these types of errors that are simple and fundamental will have any serious student of military history questioning every statement within this book; thus, the value of this text is rather diminished. One reason for this is simple -- "Osprey Publishing" says the following on the top of their website's home page:

"Osprey Publishing is the world's leading publisher of illustrated military history and military aviation books."

They certainly churn out the material, but the level of research and editing is very lacking for a 48-page paperback that sells for $14.95!!!
German Battleships  Jan 10, 2007
Good book for specs and general information, lacks details of significant
battles and engagements
Cost Too Much, Achieved Too Little  Sep 27, 2004
In Osprey's New Vanguard #71, Gordon Williamson outlines the career of the six German battleships in the Second World War, ranging from the two elderly pre-dreadnoughts, to the powerful "Scharnhorst" and "Bismarck" classes. Like the other volumes in Williamson's series on the German WW2 Kriegsmarine warships, the technical data and career summaries are rather brief, but probably useful for someone in need of an overview of the various warship classes.

As in the other volumes in this series, Williamson provides brief background on the construction of each member of these classes and a summary of its operational history. The coverage of the two pre-dreadnoughts is particularly brief, given their minimal role in the Second World War. The color plates include: the Schleswig-Holstein class; Scharnhorst in action; a plan view of the Scharnhorst; a cutaway of the Bismarck; Gneisenau post-refit; Bismarck in action; and Tirpitz. The photographs in the volume are decent but unlike his other volumes, the author has not provided a bibliography.

Williamson's coverage of the careers of the four main German battleships is conventional. The Germans probably got their best results from any warship class from the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which together sank one British aircraft carrier, two destroyers and 19 merchantmen of 115,000 tons; for an investment of over $115 million, Germany eliminated about $32 million worth of Allied shipping. The Bismarck, although she sank the British battlecruiser Hood, had an operational life of only nine exciting days. The Tirpitz made a career out of hiding in various Norwegian holes and accomplished nothing but the illusion of tying down part of the British fleet (illusory because the British fleet was extremely active, defeating the U-Boats, escorting invasion convoys, etc). All told, Germany invested $267 million in its four battleships - a not inconsiderable sum in its day - and sank a total of 178,000 tons of Allied vessels worth perhaps $56 million. Thus, in terms of cost-effectiveness, the four German battleships were a huge waste of Germany's resources that did not justify their creation.

Williamson does mention that the "Scharnhorst" class was "fundamentally flawed" because it was "under-gunned," had an unreliable power plant and had poor sea-keeping qualities. He also claims that the "Bismarck" class was obsolete when it was launched and that battleships themselves were anachronisms, due to their vulnerability to aircraft. These "technical" criticisms are unfair. Both the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau proved their quality as warships in their Atlantic sortie of early 1941. The 11-inch guns of this class were only "under-gunned" if one was thinking of engaging British battleships, for which the Scharnhorst class was not intended. I think the only obvious technical problem with these classes was the clumsy secondary armament arrangement, with the 150mm and 105mm guns on both classes. US battleships used 127mm guns in twin mounts for both the secondary surface and AA roles, and this saved weight and simplified fire control.

The real problem with the German battleships, aside from their innate cost-ineffectiveness, was the inadequate German naval doctrine. The Germans simply thought of these magnificent warships as great beasts of prey that would swoop out into the Atlantic and - hopefully- sink Allied convoys. Years ago, Soviet naval analysis seemed to hit the nail on the head - the Germans lost the Battle of the Atlantic because they failed to use combined arms tactics. Magnificent ships like the Bismarck fought and died virtually alone. It is really amazing how little effort the Germans made to coordinate U-Boats, long-range aircraft (Fw-200s) and surface raiders. Would the Bismarck have seemed like such an anachronism if the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin had been completed? Certainly a German battle squadron with a couple battleships and a carrier would have been a nightmare for the British to hunt down. Although Hitler had some influence upon the timing of major fleet operations and warship construction, it was the Naval High Command and Admiral Raeder who mismanaged the carrier construction effort and the coordination of U-Boats and surface raiders. It was inadequate doctrine and poor operational planning that doomed the German battleships, not technical difficulties.

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