British Ironclads 1860-75...

...HMS Warrior and the Royal Navy's 'Black Battlefleet', from Osprey Publishing

Title: British Ironclads 1860-75

Author: Angus Konstam

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-2689-3

New Vanguard 262 from Osprey takes on the topic of an important stage in the history of the Royal Navy, and a time when naval technology was making two significant leaps.  One was the move from wooden hulled warships to iron hull vessels, and when the sailing masts were removed as steam engines became a reliable power source rather than having to rely on the vagaries of wind power.  It also enabled the development of gun turrets, where the masts were removed to allow for a clear field of fire to the new turrets.

After hundreds of years where wooden hull warships were the norm, a French move to armour the sides of a warship presented a challenge to the supremacy of the Royal Navy, and a challenge which had to be met.  The result was the development of the first full iron hulled warship, HMS Warrior, which also had reinforced/armoured sides.  That made it an important milestone in the history of warships.  With the hull painted black, it led to a series of new classes which also gave them the description of the 'Black Battlefleet'.

After such a long period of dominance for the wooden hull ships, I find it fascinating to see the explanation of how a period of just 15 years from the first iron hulled vessel with HMS Warrior, to the appearance of HMS Devastation which carried turreted guns and had just one central mast while relying on steam power.  I found it interesting to read the story of these Victorian era developments which changed the face of naval warfare and ultimately leading to the appearance of the battleship.

If like me you have limited advance knowledge of the subject, this makes for good reading.  Illustrated with some modern photos of the preserved HMS Warrior along with some of the marvellous artwork that Osprey are so well known for.  For those interested in the history of the Royal Navy and for modellers I am sure this book will be popular.  I think it would also be one for those who enjoy reading naval fiction such as the books by Alexander Kent and Patrick O'Brien, that they could also find this fascinating to read.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.

Robin