Warship Pictorial #13
I.J.N. Kongo Class

By: Steve Wiper
Classic Warships Publishing

Reviewed by John Sheridan

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Classic Warships has released book #13 in its series of Naval Monographs of Warships. Book #13 covers the Imperial Japanese Kongo Class of Battleships. 

This book is one of their "Photo Album" series books that cover an entire class of warships instead of focusing on one particular ship.  It is also the first book published by Classic Warships that does not cover a U.S. Naval Warship. The book is in the same 1x1 format of all of the previous books and is 72 pages long. The book is divided into four sections; one for each of the ships in this class (Kongo, Hiei, Haruna, and Kirishima). There is a brief narrative at the beginning of each section that describes the career of each ship in detail. The rest of the section contains a series of photographs with captions. Also contained in each section are top-down and profile drawings of each ship at a various points in their careers. This is a first in this series of books since the photo albums series normally do not contain ship drawings. The end of the book has a page devoted to Scout aircraft that were used on the Kongos as well as a technical data section on the ships of the Kongo Class.

The photographs in each section are of exceptional quality as you have come to expect from any of Classic Warships book. Where Steve Wiper gets his photos for these books is one of the great mysteries of the universe. You will find photographs that you simply will not find anywhere outside of Japan. There are numerous shots of the ships in drydock, and some great detail shots of the superstructures. Detail shots of Japanese ships are very hard to come by but Steve has somehow managed to find some to add to this book. Many of underway shots and and some great high-angle shots are also included in the mix as well. Another interesting feature is the cover shots. These shots are really Black & White photographs that were hand-colored by Steve Wiper. He has taught himself the lost art of hand colorization of photographs that was used extensively before color film became widely available after WWII. 

A really terrific feature of this book is the fact that you do not need to have a translator present when looking through the book. I own several Japanese naval books and I am frustrated by the fact that unless I learn to read Japanese, I have no idea what the captions are describing! Since Steve has translated the pictures for us, there is no guessing as to what the describe. Judging by the list of future releases by Classic Warship Publishing, it appears that they will be doing more books
on Japanese Warships (Book #17 IJN Myoko Class Heavy Cruisers is due to be published in winter 2001/2002).

Once again, Classic Warships Publishing has released a superb book that I would highly recommend. In fact, I can honestly recommend every oneof their other books to anyone who enjoys looking at photo albums of Warships. I now have a really good reference for when I build my 1/350th IJN Kirishima kit!

Other Books Published by Classic Warships

Book #1: USS Indianapolis Book #2: USS Minneapolis Book #3: USS Louisville Book #4: USS Texas
Book #5: USS San Francisco Book #6: USN Omaha Class
Light Cruisers
Book #7: USN New Orleans
Class Heavy Cruisers
Book #8: USS Salem
Book #9: USN Yorktown 
Class Aircraft Carriers
Book #10:USN Portland Class
Heavy Cruisers
Book #11: Lexington Class
Aircraft Carriers
Book #12 Benson/Gleaves
Class Destroyers (Due July 2001)
Book #13 IJN Kongo Class
Book #14 USS Wichita
CA-45 (Due July 2001)
Book #15 KM Schnellboote
(Due Fall 2001)
Book #16 USS New Jersey
BB-62 (Due Fall 2001)
Book #17 IJN Myoko Class Heavy Cruisers (Due Winter 2001/2002) Book #18 Arleigh Burke Class DDs (Due Winter 2001/2002)