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Who Killed Kitchener? The Life and Death of Britain's Most Famous War Minister

Who Killed Kitchener? The Life and Death of Britain's Most Famous War Minister

Battleship Duke of York - An Anatomy from Building to Breaking

Ian Buxton & Ian Johnston

Unlike the United States, which has preserved a number of battleships as museums or memorials, not a single British dreadnought survives in the country that invented them. This book is an ambitious attempt to achieve the next best thing - a level of documentation in plans, photographs and words that portrays every aspect of the ship, albeit in two dimensions. The core of the book is the reproduction in full colour of a complete set of as-fitted plans of the ship, including many details and close-ups. A a uniquely comprehensive portrait of a great ship in all its complexity, and a book that no warship enthusiast will want to miss.
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Unlike the United States, which has preserved a number of battleships as museums or memorials, not a single British dreadnought survives in the country that invented them. This book is an ambitious attempt to achieve the next best thing - a level of documentation in plans, photographs and words that portrays every aspect of the ship, albeit in two dimensions. Although the ship was chosen primarily because of the wealth of source material, Duke of York enjoyed a distinguished wartime career that included sinking the German battleship Scharnhorst in 1943 and serving as the flagship of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945, so is a fitting subject for such in-depth treatment. The core of the book is the reproduction in full colour of a complete set of as-fitted plans of the ship, including many details and close-ups. These are complemented by an unusually thorough set drawn after the ship's major refit in March 1945, showing all the modifications undertaken to prepare the ship for service alongside the US Navy in the Pacific. Photographic coverage begins with the stunning views taken by the builder's professional cameraman during every stage of construction, and concludes with an illustrated chronology of the breaking up. This last is included not just for completeness but because photos of the ship at various stages of demolition demonstrate many aspects of the interior structure, compartments and their fittings that are otherwise invisible. While the emphasis may be primarily visual, the accompanying narrative and captions display the expertise and in-depth knowledge of the authors, making the text as enlightening as the illustration. The result is a uniquely comprehensive portrait of a great ship in all its complexity, and a book that no warship enthusiast will want to miss.

ISBN: 9781526777294
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Ian Buxton & Ian Johnston
First Publishment Date: 18 August 2021
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Author(s) Ian Buxton & Ian Johnston
Customer Reviews
  1. A delight to read – something new on every page and high quality photos to pour over.
    Battleship Duke of York – An anatomy from building to breaking by Ian Buxton and Ian Johnston The Duke of York was built at the famous Clydebank shipyard of John Brown. Fortunately for naval historians, John Brown had a properly staffed photographic department that took photos at every stage of a ship’s construction. For the Duke of York some 600 negatives survive, held by the National Records of Scotland, and this book has a marvellous collection of over 100 black and white prints. The authors have already collaborated on a book called Battleship Builders and Ian Johnston, as a young naval architect, was allowed to explore the ship as she was being broken up resulting in some more extraordinary photos. The build of the Duke of York commenced in April 1937. The photos, with full explanatory captions, show the step by step construction of the ship accompanied by notes from the regular progress meetings and decisions on build. Interestingly, the Controller of the Navy responsible for her build was Vice Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser who was later to have her as his flagship at the Battle of North Cape and the sinking of the Scharnhorst. The structure of the 10,000 strong John Brown workforce with over 20 trades is explained – a different era of labour relations with foremen able to hire and fire. As a riveted ship, the riveters were paid by piece work, i.e. the number of rivets they secured. There is a photo showing how the numbers were logged to ensure no duplication of records! Despite being one of the Admiralty’s more favoured yards, much of the machinery at John Brown’s was the same as that used to build Hood in 1916-20 with little investment in infrastructure between the wars. This lack of investment is illustrated by the fact that only 5 tonne cranes were on the slip, heavier loads had to be lifted by sheer legs. Photos of workers balanced on plank staging whilst negotiating a 23 tonne shaft bracket or 29 tonnes of rudder show that H&SAW Act hadn’t materialised – not a hard hat or high vis jacket in sight and ladders descending into barbettes with no securing! The book has a complete collection of line drawings in colour and very clear colour drawings of the armament. One photo clearly shows the vulnerability of the outer prop shafts which led to the loss of the Prince of Wales. Duke of York was launched on 28 February 1941 and there is a good description of the launch preparations – she weighed nearly 19,000 tonnes at launch or almost half her total weight. Fitting out was accelerated following the loss of the Hood; there is a wonderful photo of the iconic 200 tonne cantilever crane lowering a 14” gun onto its trunnions – again with nonchalant ease. She sailed early September 1941 for Rosyth for docking including stiffening the rudder after issues with other ships of the class. Duke of York paid off in November 1951 with the decision to scrap all ships of the class being taken in 1957. This is a stunning record of building a ship under wartime conditions and a testimony to John Brown’s workforce. Her sad demise, as she was cut down from the upperworks until the lower hull was beached for demolition, is shown in full detail. A book that is a delight to read – something new on every page and high quality photos to pour over.

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