Robert C Stern
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
Our generation would readily assume the cruiser is a naval fixture and fitting. In fact the cruiser as we know it only emerged in the late 1860s as iron hulls supplanted timber. Until then there were battleships of the line, frigates ,corvettes etc of various rates and a plethora of sloops ,ketches, (see Patrick O Brien if confused !). The cruiser emerged as a number of new roles emerged for warships to act independently of the fleet in roles including scouting, interdiction, diplomatic visits, support for colonial policy. The former ship classification drifted into disuse.

The 1870s saw the emergence of the motorised torpedo and the destroyer emerges. Another class of vessel for the cruiser to combat.

The way was set for the next century by which time all battleships less the Iowa class had been retired. Now it was the time for cruiser numbers to tumble with more lighter vessels in service and growing emphasis on air and aviation platforms. The US considered switching USS Albany into a Polaris carrying role. The Italians (wisely) backed out of a similar plan for the Garibaldi when the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty was ratified by Italy. Page 259 has some intriguing views of the future.

The book proceeds in chronological order in 12 chapters, there are abundant first class photographs and some helpful technical drawings to illustrate points in the text. The work covers most of the large and medium navies of the world and looks at how the different design trends developed and evolved.

The book runs to 259 pages with an excellent set of notes, list of sources and a good index. The obvious omission is HMS Belfast, ironically one of the few surviving cruisers. Printing is to a high standard by Seaforth Publishing. The book is aimed at the serious naval reader and would make a handy tool for further research. Technical gunnery types will also find plenty to keep them interested. For landlubbers there is a convenient list of abbreviations and acronyms on page 8-9. The cover price is £35 but copies are on Amazon from £24.50

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