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German Heavy Cruisers 1939-45 (New Vanguard) [Paperback]

By Gordon Williamson & Ian Palmer (Illustrator)
Our Price $ 15.26  
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Item Number 347494  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   48
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 7" Height: 9.75"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 23, 2003
Publisher   Osprey Publishing
ISBN  1841765023  
EAN  9781841765020  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The development of this excellent and successful class of warship only became possible after the Anglo-German naval agreement of 1935 eased restrictions on the types of ship Germany could build; even then only five of the class were permitted: the Admiral Hipper, the Blücher, the Prinz Eugen, the Seydlitz and the Lützow. These Cruisers were designed for Atlantic operations and had eight 8 inch guns, 12 10.5 cm heavy anti-aircraft guns and 17 smaller calibre anti aircraft guns as well as twelve torpedo tubes and their own compliment of up to six aircraft. This title covers the design, development and operational history of the Heavy Cruisers of the Admiral Hipper class.
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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More About Gordon Williamson & Ian Palmer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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.

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 > General   [9842  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > Naval   [958  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General   [2794  similar products]
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Good Color Plates, Slim Narrative  Sep 11, 2004
Osprey New Vanguard #81 is another installment in Gordon Williamson's summaries of each major ship class in Germany's Second World War navy. In this volume, Williamson addresses the "Hipper" class heavy cruisers: the Hipper, Blucher and Prinz Eugen, plus brief mention of their uncompleted sisters - Lutzow and Seydlitz. The main reason for buying these volumes is the excellent color plates, since the technical details and operational narratives omit important details that are resident in the longer, but more expensive volumes, by the Naval Institute Press.

Like the other volumes in this set, Williamson provides brief background on the German Navy in the interwar period, focusing on the construction of this class. He then provides brief technical detail and operational narratives for each of the three main vessels in this class, plus brief sections on their two unfinished units in the class. The color plates are: side and plan views each of Hipper, Blucher and Prinz Eugen; a cross-section of Prinz Eugen (the main selling point for the volume); late-war camouflage schemes; plus two action scenes - one each of the Hipper and Prinz Eugen engaging in coastal bombardment against the Russians in 1944-1945.

As usual, Williamson avoids any discussion of the doctrinal rationale for these ships or any evaluation of their relative contribution to the Germany Navy's war effort. The cruisers were apparently built as general-purpose warships, rather than commerce-raiders, given that there were very few attempts to use them individually like the pocket battleships. Most of the operational use of these ships involved pairing them up with larger ships of the "Bismarck," "Scharnhorst" or "Deutschland" classes for major sorties; essentially, they were used to round-out task forces. Blucher was lost only seven months after commissioning, leaving only Hipper and Prinz Eugen available. Later in the war, the surviving Hipper and Prinz Eugen spent most of their time providing naval gunfire support against the advancing Russians - surely a poor use for such an expensive asset. Readers should also note how these ships spent much of the war out of commission or involved in non-operational purposes, such as cadet training in the Baltic. Once again, Williamson omits any mention of cost and in this case, it was a serious omission. The "Hipper" class cruisers each cost about $34 million, which was more than twice the cost of the pocket battleships and about four times the cost of most British heavy cruisers. These were expensive ships that spent most of the war idle and deprived Germany of steel and crewmen that would have been better invested in U-Boats. In terms of contribution, Hipper's attack on convoy SL 64 off the Azores in February 1941 - which sank seven merchantmen of 32,000 tons - was the only major success that these cruisers enjoyed during the war.

In terms of technical detail, Williams gives virtually no mention of the perennial engine problems that these ships suffered from their high-pressure steam plants or the fact that their operational range was rather limited. When these ships were commissioned in 1939-1940, the "Hipper" class cruisers were the biggest heavy cruisers in the world, with a displacement of 14-16,000 tons when most Allied heavy cruisers were in the 8-10,000 ton range. The "Hipper" class also had thicker and better placed armor protection than most British cruisers. Given these temporary advantages, these ships might have made their best contribution in 1940-1941, but a single successful convoy attack was all they managed. Like most of Germany's surface fleet, the resources poured into these prestige units provided very little in return.

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