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A Brief History of Naval Warfare

In Military History, Featured

The Osprey Sale is running until the end of February, so it's the perfect opportunity to get great deals on a wide range of our books, e-books and games. On the blog today, we're looking at some fantastic naval books covering multiple historical periods, from the ancient to the present.

 

Ancient History

 

Warships of the Ancient World Salamis 480 BC  Actium 31 BC



NVG 196: Warships of the Ancient World: 3000–500 BC by Adrian K. Wood

The world's first war machines were ships built two millennia before the dawn of the Classical world. Their influence on the course of history cannot be overstated. A wide variety of galleys and other types of warships were built by successive civilisations, each with their own distinctive appearance, capability and utility. In this detailed study, Adrian K. Wood looks at the earliest warships, from Egyptian vessels to the forebears of the trireme.

 

CAM 222: Salamis 480 BC by William Shepherd

In 480 BC, the Greek and Persian fleets met in a battle in the strait between Attica and the island of Salamis. Although outnumbered, the Greeks delivered a crushing victory that ended the Persian threat to Greece. This book draws on the findings of archaeological, technological and naval research, as well as on original historical sources to vividly recreate one of the most important naval campaigns in world history.

 

CAM 211: Actium 31 BC: Downfall of Antony and Cleopatra by Si Sheppard

In 32 BC, the Roman Republic descended into civil war between the forces of the Octavian in the west and the famous lovers Cleopatra and Marc Antony in the East. Acting quickly, Octavian managed to trap his foes in the Gulf of Actium. In the ensuing battle, Anthony and Cleopatra manage to escape, but their military forces and their hopes for victory in the war were crushed. Soon afterward, the lovers committed suicide, and Octavian dissolved the republic and declared himself Emperor. Actium has remained one of the most famous battles of the ancient world thanks to Shakespeare and Hollywood. This new book tells the true story of the decisive and bloody battle that would once and for all seal the fate of the Roman Republic. 


Byzantine Empire: 7th – 15th Centuries

 

Byzantine Warship vs Arab Warship Byzantine Naval Forces 1261–1461

 

DUE 64: Byzantine Warship vs Arab Warship: 7th–11th centuries by Angus Konstam

For four hundred years the Byzantine Empire's naval forces vied with the warships of the Islamic world for mastery of the Mediterranean. At the heart of this confrontation were the fighting vessels of the two powers, the Byzantine dromon and the Arabic shalandi, both oared warships. In those four centuries of warfare between two major maritime powers, both the Byzantines and the Arabs left us records of their doctrine and tactics, as well as of how their ships were built. Featuring full-colour artwork and rigorous analysis from an authority on naval warfare, this enthralling book offers a glimpse of the long-lost world of war at sea in the age of Byzantium. 

 

MAA 502: Byzantine Naval Forces 1261–1461: The Roman Empire's Last Marines by Raffaele D’Amato

After the recapture of Constantinople, Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos was determined to bring glory back to the Byzantine Empire. To achieve this, he established an Imperial Fleet and raised new regiments of elite marine troops. This work provides a comprehensive, illustrated guide to the unit history and appearance of these men, who were at the cutting edge of the last great flourish of Byzantine naval power. 

 

 

15th – 19th Centuries

 

Renaissance War Galley 1470–1590 Dutch Navies of the 80 Years' War 1568–1648 Ships of the American Revolutionary Navy
Mapping Naval Warfare CSS Alabama vs USS Kearsarge  US Navy Battleships 1886-98 Cover
Chinese Battleship vs Japanese Cruiser    


NVG 62: Renaissance War Galley 1470–1590 by Angus Konstam

For most of the Renaissance period, naval warfare in the Mediterranean was dominated by the war galley, a unique naval vessel for a momentous age. This book examines the development of the war galley from its classically inspired resurrection in the 15th century until its demise in the early 17th century, providing the first ever in-depth study of this remarkable war machine.

 

NVG 263: Dutch Navies of the 80 Years' War 1568–1648 by Bouko de Groot

The tiny new state of the United Provinces of the Netherlands won its independence from the mighty Spanish empire by fighting and winning the Eighty Years' War, from 1568 and 1648. In this long conflict, warfare on water played a much bigger role in determining the ultimate victor. Using detailed full colour artwork, this book shows how the Dutch navies fought worldwide in their war of independence, from Brazil to Indonesia, and from the Low Countries to Angola.

 

NVG 161: Ships of the American Revolutionary Navy by Mark Lardas

Mark Lardas explores the origins of American warships, primarily light and medium frigates, built for the Continental Navy during the years 1776-1783. With a close look at how these ships performed in key battles, as well as the exploits of John Paul Jones - the founding father of the United States Navy - this is a complete, illustrated overview of the ships' service and development until France's entry into the war and the subsequent decline in importance of the Continental Navy.

 

Mapping Naval Warfare: A Visual History of Conflict At Sea by Jeremy Black

Naval operations and warfare were, and remain, a key element for mapping. Maps were vital for commanders in drawing up plans of attack, and their detail and usefulness have increased over the centuries as the science of mapping has developed.

This beautiful book examines stunning original maps from a series of key conflicts from the Spanish Armada, the American Wars of Independence, and the Napoleonic wars to twentieth-century conflicts from the First World War to Vietnam, and explains how they were represented through mapping and how the maps produced helped naval commanders to plan their strategy.

 

DUE 40: CSS Alabama vs USS Kearsarge: Cherbourg 1864 by Mark Lardas

The most successful commerce raider of the Civil War, the CSS Alabama almost single-handedly drove United States merchant shipping from the seas. Her illustrious career saw the capture of 60 merchant ships and two duels with ships of the US Navy. This book gives the complete story of the development of the Confederacy's commerce raiding force and the ships the Union set against them. 

 

NVG 271: US Navy Battleships 1886–98: The pre-dreadnoughts and monitors that fought the Spanish-American War by Brian Lane Herder

After the American Civil War, the US Navy had been allowed to decay into complete insignificance, yet the commissioning of the modern Brazilian battleship Riachuelo and poor performance against the contemporary Spanish fleet, forced the US out of its isolationist posture towards battleships.

This fully illustrated study examines the first six US battleships, a story of political compromises, clean sheet designs, operational experience, and experimental improvements. These ships directly inspired the creation of an embryonic American military-industrial complex, enabled a permanent outward-looking shift in American foreign policy and laid the foundations of the modern US Navy.

 

DUE 92: Chinese Battleship vs Japanese Cruiser: Yalu River 1894 by Benjamin Lai

The 1894-95 war between China and Japan, known in the West as the First Sino-Japanese War, lasted only nine months, but its impact resonates today.

The Chinese Beiyang (Northern) Fleet was led by her flagship, Dingyuan, and her sister ship, Zhenyuan, which were the biggest in Asia; German-built armoured turret ships, they were armed with four 12in guns and two 6in guns, plus six smaller guns and three torpedo tubes. For their part the Japanese fleet, including the Matsushima and her sister ships Itsukushima and Hashidate, were each armed with a single 12.6in Canet gun and 11 or 12 4.7in guns, plus smaller guns and four torpedo tubes. The scene was set for a bloody confrontation that would stun the world and transform the relationship between China and Japan.

Fully illustrated with stunning artwork, this is the engrossing story of the Yalu River campaign, where Chinese and Japanese ironclads fought for control of Korea

 

 

World War I

World War I Seaplane and Aircraft Carriers German Commerce Raiders 1914–18 
 British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser  Scapa 1919


 

NVG 238: World War I Seaplane and Aircraft Carriers by Mark Lardas

In 1910 the first aircraft was successfully launched from a small wooden platform on a stationary ship. Just four years later, seaplane-carrying warships were being used to launch the first naval air raids, and by 1918 the first aircraft carrier to feature a full-length flight deck was in service. High quality artwork and historical photographs help author Mark Lardas tell the fascinating story of the pioneering years of naval aviation, covering such historic clashes as the Japanese siege of Tsingtao, the British raid against German Zeppelin bases at Cuxhaven and the Battle of Jutland, which saw the first airplane take part in a naval battle. Through detailed analysis he explores their development from hastily adapted merchant ships to the launch of HMS Argus, the first aircraft carrier to have a full-length flight deck, and shows how they paved the way for the aircraft carriers of the future.

 

NVG 228: German Commerce Raiders 1914–18 by Ryan K. Noppen

This is the story of Germany's commerce raiders of World War I, the surface ships that were supposed to starve the British Isles of the vast cargoes of vital resources being shipped from the furthest reaches of the Empire. To that end pre-war German naval strategists allocated a number of cruisers and armed, fast ocean liners, as well as a complex and globe-spanning supply network to support them - known as the Etappe network. This book, drawing on technical illustrations and the author's exhaustive research, explains the often overlooked role that the commerce raiders played in World War I. Whilst exploring the design and development of the ships, it also describes their operational history, how they tied up a disproportionate amount of the British fleet on lengthy pursuits, and how certain raiders such as the SMS Emden were able to wreak havoc across the oceans.

 

DUE 56: British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser 1914–16 by Mark Stille

The rival battlecruisers first clashed in January 1915 at Dogger Bank in the North Sea and although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned artwork, this is the gripping story of the clash between the rival battlecruisers of the Royal Navy and the Kaiserliche Marine at the height of World War I.

 

Scapa 1919: The Archaeology of a Scuttled Fleet by Innes McCartney

In June 1919, the German High Seas Fleet attempted to sink itself in Scapa Flow to prevent it being broken up as war prizes. Of the 74 ships present, 52 sank and 22 were prevented from doing so by circumstance and British intervention.

Marine archaeologist and historian Dr Innes McCartney reveals for the first time what became of the warships that were scuttled, examining the circumstances behind the loss of each ship and reconciling what was known at the time to what the archaeology is telling us today. This fascinating study reveals a fleet lost for nearly a century beneath the waves.

 

World War II

Tidal Wave  Morning Star, Midnight Sun
 British Destroyers 1939–45  The Battleship Bismarck

 

Tidal Wave: From Leyte Gulf to Tokyo Bay by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

The United States Navy won such overwhelming victories in 1944 that, had the navy faced a different enemy, the war would have been over at the conclusion of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

However, in the moment of victory on 25 October 1944, the US Navy found itself confronting an enemy that had been inconceivable until it appeared. The kamikaze, 'divine wind' in Japanese, was something Americans were totally unprepared for; a violation of every belief held in the West. The attacks were terrifying: regardless of the damage inflicted on an attacking airplane, there was no certainty of safety aboard the ship until that airplane was completely destroyed.

Based on first-person accounts, Tidal Wave is the story of the naval campaigns in the Pacific from the victory at Leyte Gulf to the end of the war, in which the US Navy would fight harder for survival than ever before.

 

Morning Star, Midnight Sun: The Early Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign of World War II August–October 1942 by Jeffrey Cox

Following the disastrous Java Sea campaign, the Allies stopped the Japanese advance at Coral Sea and Midway. But the Japanese still threatened to build a network of bases in the South Pacific and threatened to cut off Australia. In response, Allies made a desperate move by starting their first offensive of the Pacific War. Their first target: a new Japanese airfield in a relatively unknown place in the Solomon Islands called Guadalcanal.

Hamstrung by obsolete pre-war thinking and a bureaucratic mind-set, the US Navy had to adapt on the fly in order to compete with the mighty Imperial Japanese Navy. Starting with the amphibious assaults on Guadalcanal and Tulagi and continuing with the worst defeat in US Navy history, the campaign quickly turned into a see-saw struggle where the evenly matched foes struggled to gain the upper hand and grind out a victory. In this book, Jeffrey R. Cox tells the gripping story of the first Allied offensive of the Pacific War, as they sought to regain dominance in the Pacific.

 

NVG 253: British Destroyers 1939–45: Wartime-built classes by Angus Konstam 

As the possibility of war loomed in the 1930s, the British Admiralty looked to update their fleet of destroyers to compete with the new ships being built by Germany and Japan, resulting in the commissioning of the powerful Tribal-class. These were followed by the designing of the first of several slightly smaller ships, which carried fewer guns than the Tribals, but were armed with a greatly enlarged suite of torpedoes. The first of these, the 'J/K/M class' was followed by a number of wartime variants, with slight changes to their weaponry to suit different wartime roles.

Designed to combat enemy surface warships, aircraft and U-boats, the British built these destroyers to face off against anything the enemy could throw at them. Using a collection of contemporary photographs and beautiful colour artwork, this is a fascinating new study of the ships that formed the backbone of the Royal Navy during World War II.

 

ANT 1: The Battleship Bismarck by Stefan Draminski

The Bismarck is perhaps the most famous - and notorious - warship ever built. Completed in 1941, the 45,000-ton German battleship sank HMS Hood, the pride of the British Navy, during one of the most sensational encounters in naval history. Following the sinking, Bismarck was chased around the North Atlantic by many units of the Royal Navy. She was finally dispatched with gunfire and torpedoes on 27 May, less than five months after her completion. Her wreck still lies where she sank, 4,800m down and 960km off the west coast of France.

Drawing on new research and technology, this edition is the most comprehensive examination of Bismarck ever published. It includes a complete set of detailed line drawings with fully descriptive keys and full-colour 3D artwork, supported by technical details, photographs and text on the building of the ship and a record of the ship's service history.

 

Post World War II

British Amphibious Assault Ships  US Cold War Aircraft Carriers
 Soviet Cold War Guided Missile Cruisers  
Cold War Fleet


NVG 277: British Amphibious Assault Ships: From Suez to the Falklands and the present day by Edward Hampshire

Amphibious assault ships have been at the centre of nearly all of Britain's expeditionary campaigns since World War II, from the Suez crisis of 1956 to operations as far afield as Borneo (1963-66), the Falklands (1982), Sierra Leone (2000) and Iraq (2003).

This title is an essential guide to British Amphibious Assault Ships across the decades, from the mighty Fearless to the modern Albion. Packed with full-colour illustrations, contemporary photography, and detailed analysis, this definitive work explores the history, development, and deployment of the Royal Navy's front line.

 

NVG 211: US Cold War Aircraft Carriers: Forrestal, Kitty Hawk and Enterprise Classes by Brad Elward

The Forrestal class (Forrestal, Saratoga, Ranger, and Independence) was the first completed class of US Navy supercarriers, so-named for their 25 percent size increase over the World War II-era carriers such as the Midway class, and the strength of their air wings (80-100 aircraft, compared to 65-75 for the Midway, and fewer than 50 for the Essex class). Design-wise, the Forrestals were a huge improvement over their predecessors, being more stable and comfortable, while maintaining advancements such as the armored flight decks that had been introduced with the Midway. The Kitty Hawk class was an improvement on the Forrestal-class designs, and four were built in the 1960s - Kitty Hawk, Constellation, America and John F. Kennedy. These were even longer than the Forrestals, and fitted with advanced defensive weapons systems and an improved elevator layout. All nine of the carriers covered by this volume are icons, and hold a much-respected place in US naval history. They are also some of the more well-known vessels outside of the military, for their long service histories, as well as for some of the more unfortunate events that seem to follow them.

 

NVG 242: Soviet Cold War Guided Missile Cruisers by Edward Hampshire

Heavily armed and formidable, guided missile cruisers formed the core of the Soviet Navy during the Cold War. From the last class of conventional Sverdlov-class cruisers through to increasingly complex and formidable missile cruisers, these ships ensured that NATO took the Soviet naval threat seriously. Soviet Cold War Guided Missile Cruisers covers all classes of these impressive warships, from the early Sverdlov through the Kynda, Kresta, Kara and Slava to the enormous Kirov classes. Together, these vessels marked the apogee of Soviet naval technology and capability and they remain today the largest non-aircraft carrier warships built since 1945. Containing material previously only available in Russian and fully researched from specialist defence journals, this comprehensive volume examines the design, development, and intended role of these impressive, hi-tech warships, and recounts their dramatic operational history as NATO and Soviet warships faced off against each other during the long Cold War at sea. 

 

Cold War Fleet Ships of the Royal Navy 1966–91 A Photographic Album by Clive Taylor, Sue Taylor

Created by two of the most acclaimed naval photographers in the world, this stunning book is a window back in time to the Royal Navy of the Cold War, showing a fleet created to defend Britain and other NATO countries from Soviet attack. Featuring every kind of ship from aircraft carriers and destroyers to auxiliary vessels, this is a peerless resource for any enthusiast of naval history.

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