This is a companion volume to Friedman’ s highly successful British Battleship 1906–1946 and completes his study of the Royal Navy’s capital ships. Beginning with the earliest installation of steam machinery in ships of the line, the book traces the technological revolution that saw the introduction of iron hulls, armour plate, shell-firing guns and the eventual abandonment of sail as auxiliary propulsion. This hectic development finally settled down to a widely approved form of pre-dreadnought battleship, built in large numbers and culminating in the King Edward VII class.
As with all of his work, Friedman is concerned to explain why as well as how and when these advances were made, and locates British ship design firmly within the larger context of international rivalries, domestic politics and economic constraints. The result is a sophisticated and enlightening overview of the Royal Navy’s battle fleet in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
It is also well illustrated – a comprehensive gallery of photographs with in-depth captions is accompanied by specially commissioned plans of the important classes by A D Baker III, and a colour section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, including a spectacular double gatefold.