Osprey Publishing’s latest monograph (Book # 31 in their Duel series) focuses on the largest World War I battleships, the Dreadnoughts, and the epic 1916 clash between the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Kaiser's High Seas Fleet. Author Stille (CDR USN ret.), makes the technical material understandable to the layman, and is ably assisted by the illustrators, whose drawings and maps clarify the ships’ layouts and the battle tactics. I read the chapters in order, and found them well organized, with the climactic Battle of Jutland saved for last. The reader, depending on his previous knowledge of the subject, may choose any particular chapter of interest. The book is an excellent starting point for naval history buffs, war gamers and ship modelers. I selected the book to learn more about World War I naval history, and for info on building a dreadnought ship model in the future. It fulfilled both these goals, first with the chapters on naval strategy, the commanders’ backgrounds, and most of all, the Battle of Jutland chapter. Secondly, a ship modeler can utilize the sections on ship design and the specifications of the Royal Navy and German Navy dreadnought classes, then go to the internet and research the kit offerings as I did (many resin kits). The eighty page book is organized into eight distinct chapters, an aftermath, further reading and index.
- Introduction: Pre-WWI British and German navies, and WWI naval strategy.
- Chronology: Timeline from the launch of the Dreadnought, in February 1905 to launch of the Bayern in February 1915. The Battle of Jutland hour by hour chronology starting at 2230 hours on May 30, 1916, as the Royal Navy puts to sea, to 1500 hours June 1, 1916, when the German Navy returns to Wilhelmshaven.
- Design and Development: The advent of the "all big gun ship". The primary design factors of fire power, fire control, protection, and propulsion. The British and German ship designs.
- The Strategic Situation: Limited naval warfare from August 1914 to May 1916, the eve of the Battle of Jutland.
- Technical Specifications: Describes and contrasts the 8 British and the 4 German battleship classes. Note: this chapter would have been better located within the Design and Development chapter.
- The Combatants: Covers the British and German crews, and the major players, Jellicoe, Beatty, Sheer, and Hipper.
- Combat: The largest chapter covers the two fleets’ battle tactics, and the major events hour by hour: First Contact, the Battlecruiser Phase, the Battleship Engagements, and the High Seas Fleet's Breakthrough to Wilhelmshaven.
- Statistics and Analysis: Losses of men and ships, ships' repair times, and ship by ship # of hits by heavy shells.
- Aftermath and Further Reading: A quick wrap up to the end of WWI and the demise of the High Seas Fleet. Over twenty recommended books.
An enjoyable and educational read, highly recommended. Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy, and thanks to IPMS USA for the opportunity to read and review this book.