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German Capital Ships of the Second World War (Hardback)

The Ultimate Photograph Album

Seaforth: Iron & Steel Seaforth

By Siegfried Breyer, Miroslaw Skwiot
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 432
ISBN: 9781848321434
Published: 2nd May 2012



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Few warship types have had as much written about them as the Kriegsmarine’s capital ships – Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, Graf Spee, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Bismarck and Tirpitz continue to generate intense interest among warship enthusiasts, despite the fact that no new source of information has been unearthed in decades. What has come to light, however, is a growing number of photographs, many from private albums and some that lay forgotten in obscure archives. These include many close-ups and onboard shots, of great value to modelmakers, and rare action photos taken during wartime operations.

This book is a careful selection of the best of these, but on a grand scale, with around 100 images devoted to each ship, allowing in-depth coverage of its whole career, from launching and fitting out to whatever fate the war had waiting for it. For sake of completeness, there are even sections reproducing the various design studies that led to each class, while an appendix covers the uncompleted Graf Zeppelin, Germany’s only attempt to build an aircraft carrier, the type that during the war clearly displaced the battleship as the capital ship of the world’s navies.

Essays on the technical background and design origins by the well-known expert Siegfried Breyer and explanatory captions by Miroslaw Skwiot draw out the full significance of this magnificent collection of photos.

The cover says "The Ultimate Photograph Album"; this is quite a claim, so how good is it. In short it is outstanding. It covers the major units starting with the Deutschland Class, through the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, to the Bismarck and Tirpitz. The design and evolution of each class is outlined together with an overview of their war experiences. However, this is done quickly and fairly superficially and is really not the point of the book. The focus is the photographs. It is a large book with 432 pages, and I estimate that over 95% are dedicated to photos. And what photos! The majority are published for the first time and are of an extremely high quality. It is a pleasure turning the pages.

To illustrate the value, I counted 85 photos of Bismarck alone, varying from double spread to 4 or 5 on a page. I recognised a few from Rheinubung, the rest are from private collections and completely new to me. There are many detailed shots of the ship, ideal for model makers, as well as some stunning general views

These ships cost a lot of lives, and dominated the allies strategy for fighting the war. They were also superb technical achievements are were arguably among the best warships of the twentieth century. The book is well worth the money.

WW2 Cruisers

This work contains one of the most comprehensive assemblages of photographs of Germany’s post World War I capital ships yet created… sheer mass of imagery, their breadth of coverage, their generally clear reproduction, and the frequent use of large – format presentation. There also are drawings detailing internal arrangements, general layouts, and detail changes… Overall this is a very useful book, especially for modelers of these ships.

Nautical Research Journal

As the book’s sub-title suggests, this is very much a book of photographs, with many reproduced at a commendably large and useful size. Many are excellent.
The content was translated from the co-author’s Polish manuscript, but to a high standard, for which it is to be commended.

Marine News

…is a monumental photographic essay with over 100 new photographs illustrating the evolving story of each of the sevens ships. The photographs run from birth to death and are accompanied by a precise illustrated explanation of what happened to each ship during the course of its brief career.
These hundreds of photographs, most published for the first time, have been taken from previously unavailable naval archives. They are the reason why the book is a pleasure to own. The sheer quality of the black and white images remind the reader that it was partly the superb Zeiss lenses that Germany ground that gave her gunnery officers such a decisive advantage over their RN opponents when it came to optical range finding, in both world wars.
All of these events and many more are superbly illustrated in this beautifully detailed book. One does not have to be a naval model maker to appreciate these photographs and plans, though no doubt would be of great use to such craftsman. The important of this collections is self-evident. It exists in the fact that other than the wreckage of those on the bottom of the Baltic, the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, these rediscovered images are all preserved the memory of these German battleships into posterity.
These powerful ships were in their time, rightly feared and grudgingly admired by those that fought the regime that they armed and guarded. This book is highly recommended for those who wish to admire seven of the most magnificent warships built anywhere in the twentieth century. We will certainly never see their like again.

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

This very impressive 432-page hardback book covers the subject in a comprehensive and authoritative manner. It contains many new and previously unpublished photographs of these famous ships and covers each vessel in detail from launching and fitting out to their career and fate in World War II.

Ships Monthly, Nov 2012

The pictures are well chosen and most are of a very high quality… The detailed pictures will be of great value for the modeller, as well as being of interest to the general reader…

History of War

A stunning 432-page tome entitled 'German Capital Ships of the Second World War ..
A truly in-depth look at Germany's best known Capital ships of the war...
The seven Capital ships are described in intimate detail

Military Machines International

The book is prepared by two highly respected historians of naval shipping. For the late Siegfried Breyer, the book serves as a posthumous masterpiece. The man knew his stuff. I love the photographs and the huge amount of information. Breyer’s plan drawings are good to look at and the whole thing is just so damned nice. I cannot fault it.

War History Online

These hundreds of photographs, most published for the first time, have been taken from previously unavailable naval archives. They are the reason why the book is a pleasure to own. The sheer quality of the black and white images remind the reader what a partly superb Zeiss lended that Germany ground that gave her gunnery officers such a decisive advantage over their RN opponents when it came to optical range finding, in both world wars.


About Siegfried Breyer

The late SIEGFRIED BREYER was one of the world's greatest experts on German warship design and the author of many well regarded books.

About Miroslaw Skwiot

Miroslaw Skwiot is a Polish expert on World War Two naval technology, and has written many monographs on both warships and weapon systems.

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