Pen and sword Battleships – WWII Evolution of the Big Guns

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By Philip Kaplan
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9781783463077
Published: 15th June 2015

MSRP – £11.99 / $18.72 US


Adding to the growing list of engrossing titles included in the Images of War Series of books from Pen and Sword Books comes one of the latest releases; Battleships – WWII Evolution of the Big Guns. This is a 144 page, soft cover book by Philip Kaplan, consummate author of several aviation base titles, and discusses the Big Guns; the Battleship and its role during the Second World War and it eventual replacement by the new capitol ships; the aircraft carriers.


Table of Contents


  • Battleship Construction
  • Battleship Sailors
  • The New Capitol Ship
  • Scharnhorst and Gneisenau
  • Fast and Last
  • Tirpitz
  • Warspite
  • Battleship Yamato
  • After World War Two
  • Gallery


The author starts off the book with a nice pictorial review of construction of a few select battleships that roamed the seas during WWII. There are brief excerpts of supporting text accompanying the archival photographs which carries through to all the pictures throughout the entire book.


One of the larger sections to this book is the second chapter; Battleship Sailors. This is a collection of written accounts by the sailor who served on these ships. This give an amazing insight into life aboard these ships and the personal thoughts of the sailors during their service. Moving on, the author discusses the transitioning of the battleship’s role as the capitol ship over to the aircraft carrier as the need to reach out beyond the horizon increased eliminating the face to face to face slug-fest seen with traditional naval battles of the past.

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The second half of the book highlights several of the more notable Big Guns if the Second World War starting off with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. This is a short detailing of the operational history and final conclusion to these sister ships with a few archival pictures added. The Fast and Last is pictorial chapter highlighting the last battleships the US would produce; four Iowa-Class battleships. The author briefly discusses the operational roles each of these ships played during the war including some accompanying period photographs. The Iowa-Class Battleships chapter followed up with smaller chapters on the Tirpitz, Warspite and Yamato. Again, the author defines the roles these ships played throughout the course of the war.


The book culminates with a transitory section about the life of the battleship after WWII. The majority of this chapter discusses the reemergence of the battleship for use in Korea, Vietnam and lastly in the Persian Gulf, leading up and into Desert Storm in the Early 1990’s. Last but not least, there is a gallery at the end of the book, displaying many photographs, past and present of these classic vessels that once ruled the seas.




Battleships – WWII Evolution of the Big Guns is well written acknowledgement to the capital ships of the Second World War. Focusing on a few select battleships the book tells us their histories which is presented a photographic display. I did notice a few typographical errors the book, however, this did not take away from the content within. While this is not a vast collection of unseen photographs, reading the personal accounts quoted from the sailors in the chapter Battleship Sailors was a real pleasure. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the World War II history of some of the mighty battleships.




Pen & Sword


Modelers Social Club and the MSC Review Connect would like to thank Pen and Sword Books for providing Battleships – WWII Evolution of the Big Guns for this review.


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