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Tag: Battleship

Book Review. Battleship Bismarck. A Design and Operational History.

No hesitation about this one.  It is magnificent.  A big, expensive, superb book.  Very detailed.  Lots of photographs, maps, diagrams, plans, tables.  And written by people who really know their subject.  All naval architects.  Very readable, but probably not in one session.  In fact, I have read it, selecting sections almost at random, then finding it very difficult to put down.

Here is my official review.


BATTLESHIP BISMARCK-  A Design and Operational History

By William Garzke, Robert Dulin and William Jurens.


This superb book, IMO, is destined to become THE authoritative account of conception, design, building, brief naval history and destruction of one of the most famous ships ever.  Written by expert naval architects, the 610 pages of double column text are illustrated by many original photographs, maps, and diagrams.


I suppose that some people will read it cover to cover, but I found myself being drawn initially into the design and building of the massive battleship.  In a later reading session, I read the incredibly moving accounts of the German survivors.  And in another session, the sinking of the Hood.   Then, not necessarily sequentially, the chapters leading to the discovery of Bismarck, the disabling of the rudders, and the final, fatal confrontation with the vengeful Royal Navy.


Recently we have been treated to magnificent Seaforth publications of books of plans of warships Helgoland, the Repulse and others.  I confess that I was slightly disappointed that similar detailed plans of the Bismarck were not included in this publication, but I understand that there are limits.  Perhaps a separate book?


Congratulations to the authors and publishers of this magnificent work, which I am delighted to add to my library.

Some pics of the book.




At £55 it IS expensive.  But in this case you get what you pay for.

Seaforth Publishing.







The Most Powerful Steam Engine in the WORLD (?).

Excluding nuclear powered steam turbines and some others.  But 12,000hp is not to be sneezed at.

At Sheffield’s  Kelham Island Museum  we (Jennifer Edwards, a blog reader of, and I), saw a steam engine which was big, but not as big as the triples at Kempton.  So how can it be “the most powerful etc”.

Well, it is a triple, but not a compound triple.  It is a simple triple.  Double acting.  so each cylinder puts out power like it is the HP cylinder of a triple expansion engine.  It must be a prodigious consumer of fuel and energy.

Why so much power requirement?  Well this engine was used to power a rolling mill, to curve the armour plating of battleships.  Plates up to 16″ (400mm) thick.  The steel was red hot while this was being done, and the plate was rolled back and forth until the desired curve was reached.  Several re-heatings of the plate was required until the desired curve was achieved, so it was important that as many passes as possible were done in the shortest time.  So this engine is capable of full power reversals, very quickly.  Unfortunately there was insufficient room in the museum to fit the rolling mill.


This large crucible sits at the Museum entrance.  (Jennifer for scale.)

And we saw that happening today.   It was very impressive, and apart from some clanking of the huge spur gears, very quiet.


Cylinder bores 40″,  stroke 48″, installed 1905, used until 1976.


50 ton flywheel


And pinion


Reversing gear


Current modern boiler is no match for the original 10 Lancashire boilers.


The demonstration lasted only 3 minutes, before the large gas fired boiler ran out of steam at 100psi.  And they had been heating the boiler since yesterday.  Under industrial use, 160psi was used.

Jennifer is trying to obtain some plans to model the engine.  Hmm…I might have discovered my next model too…

The Battleship Builders (another book review)

This one is just to demonstrate to reader Stan that some of my book reviews are positive.


Hard Cover,

UK £30.00 Seaforth Publishing,  available at Pen and Sword Military.


THE BATTLESHIP BUILDERS  Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships

By Ian Johnston and Ian Buxton

I am writing this review less than 24 hours after opening this book.  It is a gem!  I admit to so far reading only 5 of the 13 chapters, and those almost at random, in preference to a night’s sleep, and I am greatly anticipating devouring the remainder.

The subject is the making of battleships 1863-1945.  320 pages, triple columns, and a cornucopia of photographs, tables, plans, diagrams and maps. 

I like history, engineering awes me, and I appreciate thoroughness and detail.  This book has it all. 

Despite the mass of detail, the writing style is clear and articulate and easy to read.

At this time I have read the chapters on armament, armour, money, and the introduction and conclusions.  I will soon go back to the powering, the facilities, the building, etc.  I was wondering just how they did make, shape, and attach steel armour up to 12 inches thick to the sides of ships*.  And how did they make those huge guns?  It is all there, including detailed descriptions and photographs of the manufacturing processes, the factories, the work forces, the costs, the materials, the physical handling of the huge pieces, the testing.  And the corruption, and the cost to the national economy. 

A fascinating story.   Absolutely, thoroughly recommended.

*spoiler alert!  The armour plates were bolted from the inside, into threaded holes, using bolts 3-4 inches diameter.  The holes were made and threaded before the plates were hardened.  The plates had tongue and groove edges.

After writing this I read the remaining chapters, and I confirm that this is an awesome book.  Well written, plenty of pictures diagrams and tables, and thorough.   So there Stan!




If you have ANY interest in battleships and their construction, buy this one!