British Warship Recognition, Vol 5...

...The Perkins Identification Albums: 5. Destroyers, Torpedo Boats and Coastal Forces 1876-1939


Title:  British Warship Recognition, Vol 5...

Author: Richard Perkins

Publisher:  Seaforth Publishing

ISBN:  978-1-4738-9149-4

...The Perkins Identification Albums: V. Destroyers, Torpedo Boats and Coastal Forces 1876-1939

A new hardback book from Seaforth Publishing, the fifth part of the joint project between Seaforth Publishing and the National Maritime Museum.  With each new volume my admiration for this series of albums grows ever greater.  There are another 312 pages in this volume alone, and the level of detail that Richard Perkins recorded in his albums is simply staggering.  In tackling the topic of Destroyers and their Flotilla Leaders separately it is a worthy reminder of just how many of these types of warship were in service with the Royal Navy during the period covered.  Indeed, it is worth looking at just the index of 3 pages at the back of the book and seeing how long the list of names is, and that their individual recognition features are all included in the book.

One particular feature of this one is a result of the number of individual vessels in the various classes and where a template of the ships were used as a basis and then the differences were noted for each specific ship with additional annotations using different coloured inks.  There are complete pages in places devoted to the many different appearances of masts and funnels so that not only can specific ships be identified, but also how they changed over their service life.

After the Destroyers and the Flotilla Leaders it moves on to the same level of coverage for Torpedo Boats.  For the non-expert in ships like me, these are what I'd describe as being like smaller Destroyers, steel hulled ships.  It is the final section of the book that covers Coastal Forces which include the smaller MTB that perhaps many of us associate with the term 'Torpedo Boats'.  

The pages are high quality reproductions of the original pages of the Perkins albums and the information continues to be amazing and in my view, the artistic quality of the illustrations as well as the pages of detailed hand-written notes are a joy to see in their own right as a piece of artistry, let alone the dedication he shows by recording the subject to this level of detail, at a time when the Royal Navy really was the greatest fleet in the world.

Even the neatly written text notes show changes as the author added or updated notes over time.  One or two have been added by archivists over the years, but remarkably few.  What you have is very much a 'bible' of help to identify not only individual ships in archive photos, but also to indicate what year it shows the vessel.  Individually the book is a delight to see by itself and as the growing set a magnificent reference.