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Super-Battleships of World War II: Montana-Class, Lion-Class, H-Class, A-150 and Sovetsky Soyuz-Class

18 Apr 23

By MARK STILLE, illustrated by PAUL WRIGHT

(Osprey Publishing – £11.99)

ISBN 978 1 4728 4672 3

48 pages

Osprey are well-known for their short, excellently illustrated, concise histories of particular aspects of military history, whether, for example, a notable battle, type of aircraft or class of ship. Super-Battleships of World War II marks another commendable addition to Osprey’s publishing record. The author, Mark Stille, a former US Navy officer and prolific author, sets out to “trace the design, development, and eventual fates of the uncompleted super-battleships that the leading naval powers intended to build during the period immediately before and during World War II”. Together with Paul Wright’s excellent illustrations, Stille ably achieves his aim. At 48 pages, this book is a concise read, but provides valuable insights and analysis into both the broad principles of battleship design and development, and the respective super-battleship programmes pursued by the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union.

Following a brief introduction, Stille provides an overview of ‘Battleship Design Practices’, focusing on protection, propulsion and firepower, before proceeding to examine the US Montana-class (a planned follow-on to the Iowa-class), the UK’s Lion-class (which built upon the King George V-class), the German H-class intended to provide a qualitative edge over the Royal Navy, the Japanese A-150 (potentially a ‘Super Yamato’), and the Soviet Union’s Sovetsky Soyuz-class. For each class of battleship, Stille discussed the origins of the programme, the planned protection, propulsion and armament, and the fate of the class. The specifications of each class are also included.

Multiple photos, illustrations and tables accompany the text. As part of the ‘Analysis and Conclusion’, a counter-factual history of a notional clash between a US Navy Montana-class and Japanese A-150 off Honshu in March 1946 is included. In the analysis of the Sovetsky Soyuz-class, it is notable how the ships were part of “grandiose naval plans”, intended to result in a “sea-going and ‘oceanic’ navy to act as a deterrent during uncertain times and as a symbol of Soviet greatness”. Such plans were beyond the capability of the Soviet economy and industry to deliver and strike a parallel with the Russian Navy’s own grandiose plans for naval construction of the late 2000s, serving Putin’s ambitions. Super-Battleships of World War II is well-written, illustrated and presented, and provides a fascinating insight into the culmination of battleship design. It will appeal to all those with an interest in battleships, 20th century naval history, and the navies of the UK, US, Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union. All in all, this book provides an enjoyable and engaging read. Recommended.