US Heavy Cruisers 1943-75

Published: November 30th, 2014     
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Author: Mark E. Stille, illustrated by Paul Wright
Reviewed by: Rob Benson - IPMS# 44038
ISBN #: 978178200 6329
Other Publication Information: Softcover, printed on 48 glossy pages filled with text, 1 color photo, 44 black-and-white photos, 7 data tables, and 7 color paintings and diagrams.
Price: $17.96
Product / Stock #: NVG 214
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

Thank you very much to the wonderful folks at Osprey Publishing for providing this new publication for review.Thanks are also due to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me the opportunity to explore a fascinating historical documentation and description of the last class of heavy cruisers. The book was particularly interesting to me, since my father and one of my college professors served aboard the Newport News. This volume follows a previous release by the author describing the pre-war heavy cruisers, also published by Osprey.

In typical Osprey style, you will find a balance of detail, data, and photographs in a small package that gives a succinct and in-depth overview of a complex subject. The book is formatted in standard Osprey layout with 48 glossy pages filled with text, 1 color photo, 44 black-and-white photos, 7 data tables, and 7 color plates and diagrams. The softcover binding is 9.75 x 7.25 inches and a little less than a quarter-inch thick. The cover is a color painting of the U.S.S Newport News bombarding North Vietnam in 1972 while taking fire from shore batteries. In 6 chapters,Mr. Stille providesa brief historical introduction and overviewof the heavy cruiser conceptevolution, development of the unique and powerful armament, and the four heavy cruiser classes. He concludes with a candid and insightful discussion. A thorough bibliography and index completes the publication.

The introduction, second and third chapters provide essential background informationabout the origins of the heavy cruiser. These three chapters are a brief but critical introduction to the critical ship design requirement of a rapid-fire, 8 to 12-inch gun for destroying enemy heavy cruisers. The heavy cruiser weapons chapter tellsstories of concept, design iterations, and modifications adapted to each of the 4 ship classes.

The Baltimore, Alaska, Oregon City, and Des Moines classes are described in detail throughout the remaining text. Each class has a section with additional information about design and construction, armament, combat and/or non-combat modifications and service. Numerous anecdotes highlight achievements, and some cases harrowing events, such the Pittsburgh's bow loss during a typhoon. Wartime and post-war service is detailed, but note that some of the classes operated mainly after WWII, seeing relatively little action in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Excellent color drawing and paintings allow comparisons between the four classes. After I read this mainstay sectionof the book, I gained a deeper appreciation for the rapidly changing and sometimes conflicting design concepts,evolving mission needs, and service life of these beautiful but expensive warships. Author Stille concludes by boxing up the pros and cons candidly, suggesting that heavy cruiser firepower was impressive, coupled with advanced ship capabilities, but the classes never meshed effectively with the changing face of naval combat.

An example of the Des Moines class is still afloat and available to visit. The U.S.S. Salem, CA-139, is now a museum ship at the Bethlehem Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. She is presently closed due to pier safety concerns where she is berthed. Sometime in 2015 she will be relocated to the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street in East Boston.

I recommend US Heavy Cruisers 1943-75, especially if you are considering modeling one of these classes. Many kits are available, mostly in 1/700 scale.

Thank you again to Osprey Publishing for providing this book for review. To the folks in the IPMS Reviewer Corps, thank you for giving me the review opportunity, and especially thanks for all the filtering, edits and other tech wrestling you do to make the Reviewer Corp excellent.

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