British Town Class Cruisers...

 

...Design, Development & Performance Southampton & Belfast Classes, from Seaforth Publications

 

Title: British Town Class Cruisers

Author: Conrad Waters

Publisher: Seaforth Publications

ISBN: 978-1-5267-1885-3

 

A large format 320-page hardcover book from author Conrad Waters and Seaforth Publishing. A highly detailed history of the Southampton and Belfast Classes. Thanks to the survival of HMS Belfast as a museum ship moored near Tower Bridge in Central London, we are fortunate to have a survivor which can grab the interest of many of those who visit her.
With 10 ships in the class, built in 3 lots, they were modern designs built in the late 1930s, with Belfast being the last one to be accepted into service, on 3 August 1939. The book starts by giving the background to these light cruisers, the influence of the Washington Treaty on warships around the world and what other countries were building. After the Origins of the class are explained, it goes on to the Design Process and chapter 3 which moves From Construction to Delivery. Design Description goes through each element of the disign, including such elements as propulsion, layout, main, secondary and AA armament, torpedoes, aircraft and more. In chapter 5 it moves on to detail the various improvements that were carried out, as a result of wartime service experience. In chapter 6 we see the stories behind the ships, the Wartime Operations & Performance. Most survived the war and continued in service after the end of WW2, with necessary improvements and repair. Post-War Operations and Disposal are the subject for chapter 8 laving it to the final chapter for an Evaluation of the vessels. Add 3 Appendices with more useful references, this includes Camouflage & Appearance where we see some colour photos and a number of fine colour artwork profiles along with a piece on the Supermarine Walrus aircraft they carried.
The book is packed with data tables, plans and layout diagrams, cross sections and a super selection of archive photos. These not only show the ships in service but also in the builders yards, which have some I particularly liked, such as a main gun turret being lifted into place and the layout of the ships' boats.
A marvellous book which will interest naval historians and modellers alike, I can't imagine a more detailed work on them. The one extra thing I'd hope is that some of those who visit HMS Belfast on the Thames today will be inspired to read this book, and perhaps kick start that interest/fascination with the history of the vessel and her sister ships.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin