What do you look for in a volume about warships? You might say that there are different genres. Naval history for example, emphasizes text. Graphics and data tables are simply throw ins, as they provide eye candy for true purpose of the book, a chronological study of events and often have a general appeal. Then there are volume that delve into warship design, such as the Norman Friedman Illustrated Design series. This type of volume is very narrow in width but very deep in depth. They cover very possible facet from turnbuckle to rivet. This exhaustive approach appeals to the grognyard, the true enthusiast, but does not have mass appeal. Then there is the volume that concentrates on graphic coverage, concentrating on photographs and drawings. US Battleships 1941-1963 An Illustrated Technical Reference by Wayne Scarpaci is closest to the later category but incorporates elements from other types of naval writing. It is an anthology of every US battleship design, which saw service in World War Two and thereafter, plus a few that didnít.
The volume is soft back and 134 pages in length and published by the author Wayne Scarpaci. The most striking aspect of the title is the great amount of material crammed into those 134 pages. Mr. Scarpaci includes photographs, drawings, data tables, ship histories and color prints of every battleship of the era. It is illustrated with 52 original paintings, 86 line drawings and 257 photographs. It starts out with an overview of status of the battleship before the war and the divergence between fast battleships and slow battleships as the war progressed. The historical overview continues with the impact of the Washington Treaty on battleship design and then coverage of important events starting with the invasion of Poland through the early 1960s period. This encompasses the first 23 pages of the book.
Starting on page 24 is the class histories, beginning with the Florida class of 1907 and concluding with USS Hawaii CB-3 on page 112. Many may not know that Hawaii, the third of the "large cruisers" of the Alaska class was 82% complete when work was suspended and was around until 1959 went sold to the breakers. In addition to battleships actually constructed, the author also covers battleships planned but not finished or not laid down. These classes include the South Dakota class of 1919, the Lexington class battle cruisers of 1919, and the Montana class of 1940. Each class is covered in chronological sequence of their construction and includes history, statistics, line drawings, photographs and original paintings by the author. As an example, the Tennessee class has five pages devoted to Tennessee and California. One page is solely history and statistics, while the last four pages are mostly graphics with ten photographs, four line drawings (Tennessee Nov 1941, Feb 1942, Oct 1943; California Oct 1944) and three paintings (Tennessee March 1942, 1944; California Feb 1945). Because of space limitations, the shipsí histories are truncated but the reader is provided with more than just basic statistics.
After all of the class coverage, there are still 22 more pages of information in the form of various appendices. These include camouflage measures, deck colors, lower hull colors and hull lettering, turret lettering, damage summary, builders and scrappers shipyards, radars, armament & ammunition, armor protection, battleship aviation, glossary of acronyms and bibliography. With most references you will find construction yards for the ships covered, as you have with this volume also. However, this title goes beyond that, it lists every shipyard that broke up battleships and all of the battleships that were scrapped at each yard. Now, does it matter that much in the scheme of things that with this volume youíll know that USS Hawaii CB3 was scrapped at the Boston Metals Yard, Baltimore Maryland and that this yard also took out USS California BB-44 and USS Kentucky BB-66? No, it probably doesnít matter but this is exactly the type of detail you find in this volume that you donít find elsewhere.
Graphic coverage is very comprehensive with photographs, line drawings and paintings. With 257 photographs, there are many that I have seen before but quite a number of the photos I had not seen before. Where have you seen a photograph of the Hawaii before, as the last photograph in the photographic section is of Hawaii on June 29, 1959 at Philadelphia starting her tow to the scrap yard in Baltimore. Each photograph a paragraph label or caption placing the photograph in historical context. Most of the photographs are in black and white but there are a few in color. To me one of the high points of this volume is the inclusion of original paintings on the battleship classes. I have bought kits when I was a kid solely based on the art on the box and the impact of seeing dramatic box art remains a stronger memory than the kit itself, such as high impact art like the purple storm cloud Aurora Bismarck or Revell red dawn Arizona.
US Battleships 1941-1963 An Illustrated Technical Reference provides 52 original paintings by Wayne Scarpaci and they are reproduced in color in this volume. Of course they are produced at a much smaller size than their original 12" to 16" or 24" to 36" size. But they do give you a taste and if any specifically strike your fancy, you can see available original art at the authorís/artistís web site at www.artbywayne.com. Even the never finished designs get their own paintings with Lexington painted as a completed battle cruiser and Saratoga painted as the actual aircraft carrier. The 86 line drawings are probably the weakest aspect about the volume in that the lines are not crisp and there is too much detail in too small of space. This is caused by cramming so much information and graphics into the number of available pages. Drawings, paintings and photographs have to be reproduced in smaller size to get them all in. These photographs greatly magnify the size from the way they appear in the volume and were taken in indirect light, creating slightly bluish tint. It would have had less impact if the interior had glossy pages but they are matte instead. Still, all and all, even with the smaller size graphics, any modeler will get a lot for their money with this volume.
US Battleships 1941-1963 An Illustrated Technical Reference by Wayne Scarpaci provides a lot of information and an amazing amount of graphics in 134 pages. For me the color artwork alone makes it a valuable addition to my library but to each his own.