German High Seas Fleet 1914-1918: The Kaiser’s Challenge to the Royal Navy
By ANGUS KONSTAM
(Osprey Publishing – £15.99)
ISBN 978 1 472856470
Osprey have built a reputation for short, well-illustrated books that cover a single, often quite narrow subject in some detail. When the subject of this book has been covered by many multi-volume works, at first sight it is difficult to see what Osprey and Angus Konstam could offer. However, it succeeds brilliantly; in the space of 80 A5 pages with many maps and full page illustrations, it covers the origins of the High Seas Fleet, Tirpitz’s ‘Risk Theory’, German strategic and tactical doctrine, communications, logistics and a brief account of the war in the North Sea which inevitably concentrates on the Battle of Jutland, but not to the exclusion of other actions; it even includes the usually forgotten post-Jutland August 1916 sortie. For the most part, there is little contentious in what is a well-researched book, although weaknesses in German fire control are skated over. There are some errors, “Britain’s pre-war capital ships” [sic] did not lack torpedo bulkheads, they were incorporated from the 1906 Bellerophon-class onwards, and while the author states that the German Bayern were arguably the best capital ships of the war, it is a difficult contention to support when they were outclassed (speed, gun range and weight of broadside) by the Revenge class which were themselves an economy version of the Queen Elizabeth-class. Nit-picks apart, this an excellent and very readable introduction to the HochSeeFlotte.