In December 1914 all of the expectations of Jackie Fisher in the combat power of the Battlecruiser appeared to have come to pass. When Admiral Fisher pushed development of this "New Testament" warship, he forecast that it would supplant the battleship as the major capital ship of the world’s navies. Speed equals armor, was his motto. Other admirals saw the missions of the battlecruiser as being to chase down raiding cruisers and pushing in scout screens to establish contact with an opposing battle fleet. The Battle of Helgioland Bight in the fall of 1914, saw British battlecruisers crush a German cruiser screen and in December 1914 Invincible and Inflexible easily destroyed the crack German armored cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at the Battle of the Falklands. Fisher wanted more of these miracle ships but there was no room in the budget. In a slight of hand he changed the orders for the sixth Queen Elizabeth Class battleship and the sixth Royal Sovereign Class battleship into orders for two more battlecruisers. These two, Repulse and Renown were to be armed with 15-Inch guns. The Battle of Jutland was still 17 months in the future.
When the two joined the Grand Fleet after Jutland, they were immediately sent back to the yards for the inclusion of more armor. The catastrophic loss of three British battlecruisers at Jutland had severely tarnished the reputation of this type of warship. They served out the balance of World War One and for the next twenty years were significant assets of the Royal Navy. These large handsome ships received a number of refits in this period and Renown was selected for a complete rebuild in 1936. She emerged in 1939 completely different from Repulse with the new British tower bridge/superstructure in place of the classic tripod.
With their high speed, they were always in demand during World War Two. Repulse met her fate with Prince of Wales in December 1941 when she was sunk in the China Sea, northeast of Singapore by Japanese shore based torpedo bombers. However, she did last longer than the far newer and more heavily armored Prince of Wales. Renown went on to serve throughout the war and by the end of it, was one of the most beloved capital ships in the Royal Navy.
The Repulse Class of Battlecruisers is the subject of the 12th volume in the Polish series Okrety Swiata/Warships of the World. This title, written by Maciej S. Sobanski, is the last one in the series to be soft bound. Starting with #13 on the World War Two Scharnhorst Class, the volumes are hard bound. (Click to see a review of Okrety Swiata/Warships of the World #14, The Myoko Class) This volume is 56 pages in length, exclusive of separate plans and the covers. The physical quality of the publication is excellent with thick semi-glossy paper, well reproduced photographs, clear color plates and well drawn plans and profiles.
The text is entirely in Polish but the volume is lavishly illustrated. Included are 51 photographs, 2 tables, five color plates and four four-page fold out plans. Many of the photographs are beautifully reproduced full-page photos. The sources for all photographs are acknowledged. The volume is subdivided into chapters covering the genesis of the battlecruiser; genesis of the Repulse and Renown; technical characteristics of the class; history of the Repulse; and history of the Renown. Obviously the lack of the ability to read Polish will deprive the reader of the textual content of the title. However there is much more to this book than text.
The photographs show the development of the class. Included are photographs earlier classes of British battlecruisers that contributed to the design of the Repulse Class. Photographs of the two sisters, range from 1916 until December 1941 for Repulse, showing her stark light gray and black final camouflage scheme and until 1945 for Renown.
Five color plates are included and are found on the inside front cover and inside & outside rear cover. These show the profile and plan of Renown in 1918 (inside front cover), starboard profiles of Repulse in 1939 and 1941 with light gray and black camouflage (inside rear cover) and port and starboard profiles of Renown in 1942 with her multi-color Admiralty Disruptive camouflage. The color plates are well done but do not designate the colors used.
Two back-printed four-page fold out plans are included, attached to the inside cover. (Starting with Okrety Swiata/Warships of the World #13, The Scharnhorst Class, the included plans are separate inclusions in a pocket at the rear of the volume.) The Repulse Class Volume #12 includes a 1:400 scale plan and profile of Renown in 1918 as the front of the first plan and a 1:400 scale plan and profile of Repulse in 1941 on the reverse. The second sheet has a 1:400 plan and profile of Renown in 1942 on the front and a series of larger scale detail drawings on the reverse. The drawings include 1:200 scale drawings of the top, front and side of the L42 Mk I fifteen-inch gun turret, B turrets for Repulse and Renown in 1940 and front, top and side views of the Fairey MK I Swordfish seaplane and Supermarine Mk I Walrus seaplane. In 1:100 scale the drawings show side, front and top views of a Vickers L45 Mk V/IV 102mm (4-Inch) gun and Vickers L40 Mk VIII/M VI pom-pom. In 1:50 scale there are top, side and front drawings of the Vickers L62 Mk III/Mk I 12.7mm quad AA machine gun and Oerlikon L65 Mk IV/Mk III 20mm AA cannon.