This is the fourth of eight volumes of facsimiles of truly accomplished water-coloured line drawings of British naval vessels from Victorian times to 1939.
- Richard Perkins
The RN built a lot of cruisers and Perkins had to split this part of his work over two volumes. This one covers early cruiser development, from the last commissioned in 1922, back to sail and steam 'corvettes', the first laid down in 1865, and this covers most British Empire cruisers employed during the First World War.
Volume I, covering battleships and battlecruisers, came out in April 2016; please see my review of 29th September 2016 at British Warship Recognition Vol.I
as all my enthusiastic encomia on that volume apply in full force to this one, as they did to volumes II and III.
Something over 250 ships are represented, in broadside elevation, either individually or as part of a class. The main pictures, usually two or three drawings to a page, are interspersed with tabulations, notes and thumbnail sketches of masts, funnels, tops, hawsepipes, scuttle arrangements etc showing differences between ships of the same class, as well as tables showing deployment history and periods as flagships, giving 181 pages of artwork. The life of each ship is depicted right down to final roles as depot ships for submarines, training ships or even as a coal hulk. We see the detailed differences, for instance, between masts on sister ships - how such and such has struts on her mast and so and so doesn't - all picked out in these supporting illustrations. While these visible external details are chronicled and sketched - in very fine grain - in general statistics of size, armament and machinery are not included – you have to go to Jane's for those or to 'British Cruisers of the Victorian Era' by Norman Friedman
Little is known of the author as a person. After decades of remarkable research going back at least to the 1920s he gave his archive of drawings and thousands of photographic negatives to the NMM in 1967. The originals were carefully sorted and bound by the NMM and have now been photographed in high resolution for this published edition which does full justice to the sheer elegance of the original watercolours.
Will it fit your bookcase? The book measures 16” x 12¼” and weighs 6 lbs on my bathroom scales. Cover price is £60 rrp is but there are cheaper offers on Amazon.
Seaforth are yet again to be congratulated for bringing to the public another extraordinary gem from the NMM's otherwise unseen treasure house, and for doing so in such an elegant style.