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Big Gun Monitors (Paperback)

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: Iron & Steel

By Ian Buxton
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781848321243
Published: 25th January 2012
Last Released: 13th January 2016



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In the history of naval warfare probably no type of ship has provided more firepower per ton than the monitor – indeed they were little more than a huge gun mounting fitted on a simple, self-propelled raft. Designed and built rapidly to fulfil an urgent need for heavy shore-bombardment during World War I, they were top secret in conception, and largely forgotten when the short-lived requirement was over. Nevertheless, they were important ships, which played a significant role in many Great War campaigns and drove many of the advances in long-range gunnery later applied to the battle fleet. Indeed, their value was rediscovered during the Second World War when a final class was built.

Monitors were largely ignored by naval historians until Ian Buxton produced the first edition of this book in 1978. Although published privately, this became an established classic and copies of the first edition are now almost unobtainable, so this new edition will be welcomed by many. It has been completely revised, extended and redesigned to a generous large format which allows material deleted from the original edition for lack of space to be restored.

Every now and then a very special book comes along, and this ranks highly among them. It is extremely well researched in order to provide the reader with a total account of the design, building, service, refits, and fates of the big gun monitors built for WW1 and WW2. The text is full of interesting information and written well. The photographic cover is excellent and provides the reader with a range of previously unseen images that certainly impressed me. The reader will be delighted by the descriptions of actions these ships took part in, including the comments from senior officers. I loved the quip about one of them managing to land some shells in various places on the same continent. Apparently none too accurate for what the Admiral required! The battle of Imross in which the Goeben and Breslau broke out is well described and in a detail I have not previously read. The author covers the ships during the between the wars period and then their service along with the new monitors build for WW2. I am extremely impressed with this book. I give it *****+ five plus stars. A great bit of research and some excellent presentation from the author.

Malcolm Wright, Australian Maritime Artist & Author

Monitors have been described as little more than a huge gun mountings fitted on a simple, self-propelled rafts. They were conceived in World War 1 to fulfil an urgent need for heavy shore bombardment, and played a significant role in many campaigns. This book looks in detail at the technical and economic aspects of the 42 monitors built, and is, without a doubt, the definitive work on the subject.

Ships Monthly

In the first half of the twentieth century the Royal Navy built and operated specialised gun-equipped, land-attack warships; it was the only Navy to do so. They were designed to be cheap, quickly built, almost disposable warships made use of 'spare' weapons from other projects and were manned, largely, by 'hostilities-only' men serving in the naval reserves. These ships were known in service as 'monitors' and this book tells their fascinating story in well-written detail.

This is an affordable edition of a classic book which should form part of every naval collection and is highly recommended. It s not only a fascinating read in its own right but will, hopefully, simulate discussions on how best to achieve similar effects in future.

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

Ian Buxton's work has set the standard in celebrating these big gun ships. It is richly embellished with pictures and diagrams and is of special interest because of the photographs included. There are maps of the monitor operations and 'Big Gun Monitors' is also published at an affordable price. It makes an invaluable contribution to the study of naval and land operations.

Warships International

About Ian Buxton

IAN BUXTON is a naval architect who was Reader in Marine Transport at the Department of Marine Technology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1974-2002. The Marine Technology Special Collection and the British Shipbuilding Database of 80,000 British-built ships have been a major focus in recent years. In 2021 he was awarded an MBE for services to the preservation of British maritime history. He has written numerous articles dealing with technical shipping and shipbuilding issues.

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