johnsmachines

machines which I have made, am making, or intend to make, and some other stuff. If you find this site interesting, please leave a comment.

Tag: Book review

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.

p1032905.jpg

P1032906.JPG

P1032909.JPG

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

Seaforth Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boer War. A Book Review. Excellent!

THE ANGLO-BOER WAR IN 100 OBJECTS

 

After reading this book, cover to cover, in 2 days, I felt that I had a real grasp of the reality of the 1899-1902 war which so shaped South Africa’s history. I now realise that my previous knowledge of the war was very sketchy.

 

The 100 iconic objects which are held in the War Museum of the Boer Republics, and 200 other objects, maps, and many photographs, are beautifully presented in this high quality book of 260 pages.  The story of each object is told in short essay style by gifted, expert writers.

 

The many subjects include battles, weapons, military personalities, politicians, places, civilians, equipment, prisoners of war, concentration camps, costs of the war, and longer term outcomes.

 

The book does not glorify the Anglo-Boer War.  If anything, it is an anti-war treatise.  It certainly has had a major impact on this reviewer.

 

Thoroughly recommended.

p1032895.jpg

P1032896.JPG

P1032897.JPG

P1032898.JPG

German Battleship Helgoland – book review.

Seaforth Publishing, in association withThe National Maritime Museum Greenwich, is publishing a series of books of plans and history of famous warships, in this case the Helgoland.

GERMAN BATTLESHIP HELGOLAND

Detailed in the original builders’ plans

By Aidan Dodson

 

Wow!

I opened this large format, hardcover book of ship plans at midnight, expecting a quick flip through, and was able put it down 3 hours later.   But I will be returning.

The first 20 pages outline the development of German dreadnaughts and their wartime careers and fates, and a fascinating history it is.  The ship structure, armament, machinery (including engines), protection, pumping systems and damage control, and fire control are described in a degree of detail which was satisfying and not overwhelming to this non expert but interested reader-reviewer.

Then, all but 20 of its 144 pages are reproductions of the original builders’ plans of the WW1 German battleship Helgoland.   The plans are detailed, and beautiful and fascinating.  With original annotations in German, translated and explained in the margins.    The 940 x 290mm centre fold of the longitudinal section is just stunning!

Modelers, historians, ship aficionados, and anyone with a vague interest in battleships will love this book.  I certainly do, and eagerly await further volumes in the series.

IMG_8103.JPG

Front jacket

IMG_8106.jpg

Centerfold.  

IMG_8109.JPG

The German navy used triple expansion reciprocating engines rather than pay royalties to Parsons to use turbine engines.

Large Scale Warship Models (a book review)

LARGE SCALE WARSHIP MODELS

From Kits to Scratch Building  by Kerry Jang

IMG_7994.JPG

 

This 110 page, hard cover book is aimed squarely at the model ship builder.  The title is slightly misleading because the book is more about methods of modelling, rather than models, per se.

The author, an expert and award winning modeller, describes the methods he uses to make superb, large scale ship models.  The methods include up to date techniques including 3d part printing, rubber mold making,  and use of modern adhesives, paints, materials etc.  There is a very interesting section on the why’s and wherefores of large scale ship modelling, including intriguing references to Zen and Nirvana.

The book is lavishly illustrated with many photographs of works in progress and techniques.  The text is clear and concise.

Although I am entranced by ship models in museums, my own interest in modelling is with stationary steam engines.  I found much of the advice and techniques in the book to be of interest and relevant to my own modelling efforts, particularly the sections on assembly, painting and finishing.

A handsome, useful book, which I am pleased to add to my library.

johnsmachines.com

img_8001.jpg

IMG_7996

“parts that don’t fit”. Now that will be useful.

img_7998.jpg

A handy painting technique which had never occurred to me.

img_7999.jpg

img_7995.jpg

A lavish, quality production. £25.

 

MASADA

IMG_7878.JPG

Cover.  Looking down on the modern remains of the Roman camp from the Masada plateau.

MASADA by Phil Carradice

Mass Suicide in the First Jewish-Roman War, c. AD73

This is another title from Pen & Sword in the “History of Terror” series.  128 pages, soft cover.

Masada, in case you are unaware, was a mountain top fortress in Judea, where Jewish men, women and children fought off veteran Roman legions for 2 years.  The traditional story is that facing defeat, the 960 defenders committed mass suicide.

There is only one source for the story, and that was Josephus Flavius, a contemporary Jewish general who was captured by, then joined the Romans.  His information, veracity, motives and biases are therefore suspect; however, some aspects of the story have been validated by modern archeological evidence.

The account of the siege, the defences, the huge ramp which was constructed by the Romans, and the details of the ultimate Roman victory, is compelling, riveting reading. The dissection of the available evidence is thorough, and various alternative possible scenarios are weighed.

Modern use of the Masada story by the nation of Israel is also discussed.

Australia’s worst military defeat (Gallipoli) is our national Remembrance Day. It is telling that Masada, also a defeat, has become the source of national pride for Israel.

An excellent read.

Dr  John Viggers.

IMG_7879

Rear cover photo. Modern remains of the Roman ramp.

img_7880.jpg

 

img_7881.jpg

And just for some perspective of the site, watch this superb video

A New Hobby for Metalworkers (a book review)

You guys could consider a new hobby, to balance your personalities, and develop the artistic side of your brains.  (can’t remember which side of the brain that is, but here is my suggestion…)

P1010258.JPG

Hard cover, 120pp, from Pen and Sword Publishers.

UZBEKISTAN.  AN EXPERIENCE OF CULTURAL TREASURES TO COLOUR

This book was surprising.

I was expecting wonderful pictures of Islamic art from Bukhara, Tashkent, Samarkand and other central Asian cities of the Silk Road.  And indeed, every second page is a full page colour picture of the amazing tile work, mosaics, ornaments, paintings and fabrics from Uzbekistan.

Every other page is a fine line drawing of the corresponding colour page.  What was most surprising to me, is that this is actually a COLOURING BOOK.   The drawing pages are there to be coloured in.

SWMBO tells me this is a common adult hobby, used for relaxation and stress relief, and making beautiful artistic pictures.  Well I don’t see myself swapping steam engine making for colouring-in exercises, but horses for courses.

Whatever, this is a beautiful, large format book, and will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys the superb, stylistic, Islamic decorative arts.  If stress relieving colouring-in is your thing, well, so much the better.

Dr  John Viggers.

P1010265.JPG

The right hand page is for colouring-in, probably after scanning to art paper.  (might make interesting patterns to CNC engrave too.)

P1010264.JPG

 

ps.   No luck finding spare gears for the big lathe, but lots of suggestions from my readers.  Thanks bloggers.  I will let you know what happens.

 

How the world’s greatest navy was defeated by beginners. A book review.

p1010177.jpg

ROME SEIZES THE TRIDENT by Marc G. DeSantis

This oddly titled book is a most interesting retelling of the three Punic wars, with an emphasis on the contest for naval supremacy.

Carthage was the naval superpower of the Mediterranean, and Rome had almost no seafaring history or capability.  Yet Rome won the naval contest.  This book explains how.  It also explains how the destruction of Carthage was the single most important event in the forging of the Roman empire, yet also planted the seeds for Rome’s eventual fall.

The author includes fascinating information about the design and construction of  galleys, and the financial and manpower implications of the massive undertaking of building a navy from scratch.

I particularly enjoyed chapter 4 which explained the technology,  capabilities and limitations of galleys, and the implications and risks of various strategies such as ramming.  Rome’s use of the corvus, which permitted the use of its famed infantry in sea battles, provided a technological edge for a few years but was ultimately discontinued, probably due to a resulting reduction in seaworthiness of the galleys caused by the heavy corvus.

p1010179.jpg

The book includes a few maps (too few in my opinion, and not all locations in the text are on the maps) , and diagrams of the likely appearance of the corvus.  It is well written, and appealed to this general reader. It should particularly appeal to students of ancient history, military history, naval history, and ship construction.

Hardback, 253 pages, including notes and references, bibliography, index.  Pen & Sword.

Highly recommended.    Dr  John Viggers.

P1010180.JPG

p1010178.jpg

Early Railways…A Guide for the Modeller (a book review)

When I saw this title from Pen and Sword, I thought “wonderful”.  Anticipating information about the Pen-y-darren railway, for which Richard Trevithick designed the world’s first useable steam locomotive.  I will be staying at Pen-y-darren near Merthyr Tidfil, Wales,  in a few weeks.  I know that little of the coal mine railway remains, but I just want to soak up the ambience of the area.

But to my disappointment, there is no mention of Trevithick or Pen-y-darren in the book.  An astounding oversight IMO.

Otherwise, the book is excellent, although I do feel unqualified to comment about model railways.

P1010060.JPG

P1010061.JPG

It is hard cover, 120 pages, richly illustrated with photos, diagrams, and plans of railway locomotives, carriages, tracks, signals, uniforms, tunnels, stations etc etc from 1830-1880.

The chapters are:   Introduction (which should not be skipped) 1. Mike Sharman – pioneer modeller of early railways, 2. Infrastructure, 3. Locomotives 4. Carriages  5. Waggons  6. Layouts and models  Appendix of sources of supply for modellers, and a brief index.

This book is a quality production.  Carefully and articulately written, and beautifully illustrated.

I have had no previous particular interest in model railways, but after reading this book, I do wonder what I have been missing.

Here are a few pages chosen at random.

P1010064

P1010157

The illustrations are profuse, well chosen, high quality and interesting.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in railways 1830-80, and especially modellers.

Dr John Viggers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battleship Builders (another book review)

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

IMG_7745.JPG

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!

img_7746.jpg

IMG_7747.JPG

img_7748.jpg

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

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: