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Battleship Duke of York (Hardback)

An Anatomy from Building to Breaking

Colour Books Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing Photographic Books

By Ian Buxton, Ian Johnston
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 250 colour & black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526777294
Published: 17th August 2021
Last Released: 8th June 2022


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Unlike the United States, which has preserved a number of battleships as museums or memorials, not a single British dreadnought survives in the country that invented them. This book is an ambitious attempt to achieve the next best thing – a level of documentation in plans, photographs and words that portrays every aspect of the ship, albeit in two dimensions. Although the ship was chosen primarily because of the wealth of source material, Duke of York enjoyed a distinguished wartime career that included sinking the German battleship Scharnhorst in 1943 and serving as the flagship of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945, so is a fitting subject for such in-depth treatment.

The core of the book is the reproduction in full colour of a complete set of as-fitted plans of the ship, including many details and close-ups. These are complemented by an unusually thorough set drawn after the ship’s major refit in March 1945, showing all the modifications undertaken to prepare the ship for service alongside the US Navy in the Pacific. Photographic coverage begins with the stunning views taken by the builder’s professional cameraman during every stage of construction, and concludes with an illustrated chronology of the breaking up. This last is included not just for completeness but because photos of the ship at various stages of demolition demonstrate many aspects of the interior structure, compartments and their fittings that are otherwise invisible.

While the emphasis may be primarily visual, the accompanying narrative and captions display the expertise and in-depth knowledge of the authors, making the text as enlightening as the illustration. The result is a uniquely comprehensive portrait of a great ship in all its complexity, and a book that no warship enthusiast will want to miss.

As featured

Nautical Research Journal Volume 68 (2023)

Overall, this book contains a wealth of visual and factual detail which will fascinate anyone interested in the technical details of large warship construction in the era of the Second World War. The more one dwells on the magnitude and complexity of the process, the more one is moved to retrospective admiration and wonder, not only at the engineering and fabrication feat, but also at the sheer managerial and logistical challenge of orchestrating such an endeavour in the pre-computer era. This volume will be a unique and most valuable addition to any library concerned with the history of warship construction.

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord - Vol. 32, No. 3 (Fall 2022)

Author as featured in

The Herald (Glasgow)

Author as featured in

Evening Times (Glasgow)

Highly recommended for any naval history enthusiast and modeller alike.

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Military Model Scene

"This is a fascinating book which will be of great interest to anybody interested in battleships of the mid-20th century."

Dreadnought, The Newsletter of the Battleship Special Interest Group: No. 179 October 2021

The further successful partnership of two skilled marine authors, with strong artistic backgrounds, and a publisher with a very strong reputation for producing outstanding, definitive books on naval subjects . The large format and an excellent facing pages bifold at the centre make this a memorable study of Britain’s last battleship in service – Most Highly Recommended

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I found this a rather impressive book, showing the sheer amount of effort that went into producing these battleships, and a view of a long lost industial world.

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History of War

This is a stunning record of building a ship under wartime conditions and a testimony to John Brown’s workforce. Her sad demise as she was cut down from the upperworks until the lower hull was beached for demolition is shown in full detail. A book that is a delight to read – something new on every page and high quality photos to pour over.

Peter Wykeham-Martin, Warship World

In my opinion it is one of the best books to emerge within the naval genre during 2021 and I wholeheartedly recommend it to a wide readership.

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David Hobbs, Australian Naval Institute

About Ian Buxton

IAN BUXTON is a naval architect with a lifetime’s experience in the shipbuilding industry and, latterly, in higher education at the University of Newcastle. He is perhaps best known for Big Gun Monitors reprinted by Seaforth in 2008. He also co-authored The Battleship Builders with Ian Johnston, and most recently this partnership produced Battleship Duke of York published in 2021.

 Ian Johnston

About Ian Johnston

IAN JOHNSTON is a well-known authority on Clydeside shipbuilding and the historian of both John Brown’s and Beardmore’s. His training as a graphic designer is to be seen in the superb choice of photographs from the John Brown collection in Clydebank Battlecruisers and A Shipyard at War. This new book is a labour of love as Ian’s father worked for Thermotank, whose achievements he felt deserved wider public recognition.

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