ANATOMY OF THE SHIP: THE BATTLESHIP USS IOWA

Reviewed by: Andy Field

The Anatomy of the Ship series have always struck me as being for a somewhat niche audience and that if you were in that niche, they were superb. Anyone familiar with the “old-style” series will remember all of those numerous, detailed, line drawings that accompanied the brief history of the ship that my artist wife so appreciated. I’m afraid that I never really felt the series was for me, though. Reviewing this excellent volume has made me a fan of the superb, 3D colour views of the ship and made me change my view. I would say that these excellent, computer drawn views make this, and all of the others of the new series, accessible to anyone who likes warships and not just to ship modellers.

Talking of ‘exceptional’, the Iowa class were exceptional battleships, with a service life of around 50 years. Iowa was commissioned in 1944 and had an active career in the Pacific, seeing further service in the Korean War before decommissioning in 1958. Reactivated in the 1980s as a part of President Regan’s plan for a 600 ship Navy she was decommissioned a third and final time in 1990 before becoming a museum ship at Los Angeles. Stefan Draminski acknowledges that this service history was one of the challenges he faced in putting his book together, as Iowa underwent several transformations.

Section 1 starts with a description of the development of US battleships, starting with the Washington Navy Treaty before moving on to sections dealing comprehensively with USS Iowa. Highly detailed sections cover her Hull Structure, Armour, Machinery, Main and Secondary armaments, her later fit of Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles and Phalanx CIWS (Close In Weapons System), Fire Control and Radar fits, Aircraft and Camouflage.  Everything is supported by 25 colour and black & white photographs and tabulated information. The section then winds up with key dates and a brief history of the ship.

Section 2 comprises the Primary Views of the ship. Here we get the excellent, 3D views of the ships from her shakedown in 1943, her service in WWII, her refits, her service off Korea and her final life in the US Navy from the 1980s until 1999 and her final role as a Museum Ship in California in 2012.

Section 3 then continues with more detailed drawings and 3D views of the ship and every conceivable fitting. Everything is covered, be it her armaments, the alterations to her superstructure and hull, her changing anti-aircraft guns, boats, even down to Flag Lockers. Everything is here.

I think this is a superb book and I have no hesitation in recommending it, and, indeed, any of the ‘new’ series, to readers of The Naval Review. Not just to anyone interested in modelling one of the US Navy’s fast battleships, but anyone who likes reading about warships, or just needs reminding what complex constructions they are.

If anyone looks at the book, wants to buy it, but baulks at the price, just put aside £1.00 a week, less than the price of a coffee and dream for the next 12 months.