USS North Carolina (BB-55) From WWII Combat to Museum Ship

Published on
February 10, 2020
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
David Doyle
Other Publication Information
Hardcover, 9″ x 9″ | 281 color and b/w photos | 112 pp
Company: David Doyle Books - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: David Doyle Books - Website: Visit Site
Product Picture

David Doyle has written over 100 books, mostly on military subjects, including a Squadron At Sea book about the North Carolina from 2011. This book is one of the Legends of Warfare – Naval series for Schiffer Publishing, a well-researched history and photo album of America’s first “modern” battleship – USS North Carolina, BB-55. Since the North Carolina is a museum ship anchored off Wilmington, North Carolina, most of the book is a color photo tour of the ship inside and out. This book is an excellent resource for modelers of the North Carolina and of WWII US Navy common fittings.

You get a 9x9 inch hardbound book consisting of Acknowledgements, Introduction and five Chapters (Construction, Commissioning, To War, Layup and Disposal, and Preservation). The pages are thick, semi-gloss stock, and the many photos are clear and in focus (except where the original was not). Some of the WWII-era photos are rare or have not been seen yet. This book is all about the photos, and the text is minimal, but sufficient to give an overview of the ship’s genesis, building and wartime activity, with some fun and interesting facts. The photo captions tell most of the story. There is no index. This book has enough text to keep one occupied, if desired, but not enough to bog down any reader or get in the way of looking at the photos. Again, all about the photos.

The first 36 pages give her design, building and operational history, briefly. Most of the space is taken up by photos. After that, 75 pages are devoted to photos of the North Carolina anchored off Wilmington – in her 1943-1944 Measure 32/18D (or close enough) three-color, splinter camouflage scheme. The ship has been retrofitted as near as possible to its WWII appearance. Over 200 photos detail all of the topsides and plenty of inside spaces, all in color. This book is a treasure trove for modelers building WWII US Navy fast battleships, and particularly, the North Carolina.

Before World War Two, Big Gun battleships were the ultimate weapons in the world. They were depended on to obtain and project a nation’s will on other countries. They were analogous to strategic nuclear weapons today (unlike nukes, battleships would not destroy life on this planet if used). Sea trade, transport and commerce was vital for almost all nations, and ability to wage war depended on control of the sealanes. If a nation could win sea control with its battlefleet – arbitrated by battleships, then it could also devastate coastal cities at will, eventually blockading an adversarial nation and protecting its own sea lifelines. Even though submarines proved troublesome in WWI, they were controllable, and airpower (aircraft carriers) had not yet proven it could trump battlefleets. Thus, the North Carolina, being the lead ship of a new fast battleship class, the first US battleship in 20 years, and a signal that America was emerging from the Great Depression, attracted plenty of media and public attention. Because of this, she was nicknamed “The Showboat” and was closely followed by the media. She earned more battle stars than any other battleship since she was operational before other battleships right before Pearl Harbor, and was present at most of the major operations in the Pacific theatre.


If you plan to build the USS North Carolina in her 1943-1944 fit (which most of the available kits in any scale depict) then this is a resource you need. Since I have not seen all the other books specifically about the North Carolina, I cannot say which might be the best, but nothing can beat crisp photos of the actual ship and its fittings. If you have already built The Showboat, then you can compare how accurate your model really is. Thankfully, I have not built my 30-year old Aoshima 105 kit yet. David Doyle has also authored photo books from Schiffer Publishing on the original Yorktown (CV-5) carrier, the USS Iowa battleship and the F4F Wildcat, with hopefully more to come.

Highest recommendation for building this ship and as a reference for universal US Navy warship fittings in general.

Reviewer Bio

Luke R. Bucci, PhD

Luke built all kinds of models starting in the early '60s, but school, wife Naniece, and work (PhD Clinical Nutritionist) caused the usual absence from building. Picked up modeling to decompress from grad school, joined IPMSUSA in 1994 and focused on solely 1/700 warships (waterline!) and still do. I like to upgrade and kitbash the old kits and semi-accurize them, and even scratchbuild a few. Joined the Reviewer Corps to expand my horizon, especially the books nobody wants to review - have learned a lot that way. Shout out to Salt Lake and Reno IPMSUSA clubs - they're both fine, fun groups and better modelers than I, which is another way to learn. Other hobbies are: yes, dear; playing electric bass and playing with the canine kids.

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