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The Windfall Battleships (Hardback)

Agincourt, Canada, Erin, Eagle and the Latin-American & Balkan Arms Races

Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing

By Aidan Dodson
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399063227
Published: 21st September 2023


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This new book explores for the first time the full story of how two Turkish and two Chilean battleships became British capital ships after the outbreak of the First World War. Under construction by the shipbuilding giants of Armstrong and Vickers in August 1914, Sultan Osman I, Resadiye, Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane became HM Ships Agincourt, Erin, Canada and Eagle. The first three served with the Grand Fleet, fighting at Jutland, while the last was transformed into a pioneering aircraft carrier, which would serve with distinction until sunk while escorting a convoy to Malta in 1942. While two of the other ships had short lives – cut short by the Washington Naval Treaty – the final ship, Almirante Latorre, would be returned to Chile after the war, for a continuing active career that would last into the 1950s. When finally towed away for scrap in 1959, she was the penultimate survivor of Jutland.

Drawing on extensive archival research, the book begins with an overview of the warships under construction around Europe for foreign customers in August 1914, and how the four ships featured were acquired by the Royal Navy. It then looks at them as manifestations of the international rivalries which directed much of the national budgets of impecunious South American and Balkan states towards armaments. The focus then switches to the British service of the ships actually completed as battleships, and then to the story of the carrier. Although never finished as a battleship, she would play a crucial role in the development of British carrier aviation. Finally, the author traces the stories of the battleships of the Latin-American naval race from the 1920s down to the 1950s.

The stories and back-stories of Agincourt, Erin, Canada and Eagle embrace almost the whole of the twentieth-century battleship era, and they take us down the byways of international naval power, ranging from the Pacific to the Black Sea, and from the line of battle to mutiny and revolution. A fascinating and original story.

"Aidan Dodson has written yet another outstanding naval reference book..."

Warship International

"The whole book is very well illustrated with photos, many from the author’s collection, including launch and fitting out shots, as well as the usual builder’s pictures. It also includes plans showing the many alternative designs put up by shipbuilders as the countries jostled for superiority with rapidly developing technology. The many changes both during and after construction are also documented. It is a superb reference book, and the author has done a huge amount of research. Recommended.

South West Maritime History Society - South West Soundings, June 2024 Issue

"A fascinating and informative read, highly recommended."

Warship World Magazine

"This book is very strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in the navies of WW1."

Read the full review here.

The Naval Review

"This book is more than one which confines itself to the four Windfall Battleships. It explores the growth of smaller navies and their attempts to generate modern naval forces in a period of rapid technological change. I found the analysis of the South American, Greek and Turkish navies particularly informative, and it provides an interesting comparison to the early development of the Royal Australian Navy and its acceptance of the Fleet Unit concept as its basis prior to the First World War."

Read the full review here.

Australian Naval Institute

“A very enjoyable book to read... Aidan Dodson has done a really good job...”.

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 Aidan Dodson

About Aidan Dodson

Aidan Dodson is Hon Professor of Egyptology in the Department of Anthropology & Archaeology at the University of Bristol, where he has taught since 1996. He has also maintained parallel research interests in naval history, and worked as a civil servant in defence procurement for 25 years, including  project leader for the offshore patrol vessel HMS Clyde. He is the author of more than 300 articles and reviews, plus some twenty books, including The Kaiser’s Battlefleet: German capital ships 1871–1918 ,Before the Battlecruiser: the big cruiser in the world’s navies 1865–1910 and Spoils of War: the fates of the ex-enemy fleets after the two World Wars, with Serena Cant, all published by Seaforth.

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