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Warship 2023

14 Jul 23


(Osprey Publishing – £45.00)

ISBN 978 1 4728 5713 2

224 pages

First published in 1977, Warship 2023 is the latest edition of this now long-established publication, edited since 2004 by John Jordan. Each annual book contains articles by guest contributors, containing the latest research on the history and development of the world’s warships, equipment and infrastructure. Whilst the articles appear to be almost random regarding their content, they have in common that they are all well-written by established and renowned authors. John Jordan is himself the author of two books on the Soviet Navy, although, in addition to his editorship, his principal contributions to this edition are the expert translation of the article by a French contributor on the battleship Masséna and the provision of some exemplary line drawings.

This edition contains 11 feature articles, possibly with a discernible theme of battleship design. This includes a fascinating account of the loss of HMS Audacious to a mine in October 1914 (John Roberts, a former editor of Warship); a detailed account of the genesis and specifications of France’s first post war, indigenous aircraft carriers, the Clemenceau and the Foch (Jean Moulin and John Jordan); the story of the battleship design sold to the Russians, by the Italians, in 1936 (Stephen McLaughlin); and the IJN’s first 8 inch gun protected cruisers, designed by Sir Philip Watts and built in Britain and in the USA (Kathrin Milanovich). There are also articles on the derivation of Italian battleship designs in the 1930s, driven by a desire to achieve parity with the French (Michele Cosentino); the development of the Electronic Warfare systems used by the RN in the postwar period (Peter Marland); an account of four of the eight ships converted to act as German Flak ships for harbour defence during WWII (Aidan Dodson and Dirk Nottelmann); the astonishing story of the subsequent deployment of the twelve guns removed from the Russian battleship General Alekseev, by the French, in the 1930s (Sergei Vinogradov); a detailed account of the undistinguished career of the French battleship Masséna,commissioned in May 1898 (Philippe Caresse); and an article on the development of the Yokosuka Navy Yard in Japan, between 1868 and 1912, which led to the establishment of an indigenous ship-building tradition (Hans Lengerer). Finally, there is an exposition of the US Navy’s new Distributed Maritime Operations concept and the challenges associated with its implementation (Conrad Waters).

The book finishes with three further sections: Warship Notes, containing four short articles; an extensive Book Review section; and a Warship Gallery section containing evocative images of ships of the Imperial German Navy, 1890-1918.

The extent of the scholarship of the contributors to Warship 2023 is readily evident from the detail in the articles and the extensive endnotes. The book is also fully illustrated with clear line drawings, tables and black & white photographs. If I might make one small criticism, a slightly larger type script would be welcomed by tired eyes! This year’s publication and its contents are worthy additions to the now extensive range of thoroughly researched articles available from this particular stable.