Battlecruiser Repulse

Battlecruiser Repulse

Author
John Roberts
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
This is a technical (as opposed to operational) history of one of our most famous capital ships brought to us via the actual drawings used in her construction, part of the National Maritime Museum's collections. It is the fifth in a series produced by Seaforth, which started with 'Battleship Warspite' by the same author which I reviewed last year.

The book is essentially in two parts, the original 1916 drawings and then the whole revisited with a similar selection from the 1936 refit. Each section includes plan views deck by deck and broadside views backed by a series of athwartship sections, rather like a monster MRI scan. The full 1936 broadside elevation is presented as a foldout. The most visible change in the 1936 drawings is the addition of hangarage and a catapult for an aircraft. Ferreting about with a magnifying glass reveals the domestic operation of this huge ship – down to individual slinging billets. For instance, the RAF junior other ranks have (apparently uniquely) been given billets slinging athwartships, which is less comfortable.

To the lay eye the drawings appear pretty busy (many of the original master drawings have been overlaid by with more than one level of update, in various different colour inks as the ship's fit changed via refits) but they needed to go down to this level to demonstrate that every piece of kit required could actually be fitted in, right down to the shells in the magazines and the sub lieutenants' bath tub. The drawings are extensively, and very usefully, captioned. The capability of the NMM's scanning facility is quite remarkable, given that some of the originals are nine feet long. Unavoidably this means that the lettering on the printed result can be rather small! There is a comprehensive accompanying narrative by the author explaining what one is looking at, which draws on material in Kew and Admiralty handbooks, but that is secondary to his researching and bringing these fascinating drawings – true works of art - to public view. The presentation of this book is extraordinarily elegant and the quality of reproduction of the drawings is absolutely superb. Dimensions 29.5 x 25 cm.

Seaforth are to be congratulated on this tour de force, an excellent contribution to naval history besides providing a vast amount of intimate detail for a model maker.

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