USS California: A Visual History of the Golden State Battleship BB-44

Published: February 21st, 2016     
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Cover
Author: David Doyle
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 978-0-9773781-7-3
Other Publication Information: Hard Bound, 8.5” x 11”, 168 pages
Price: $32.95
Product provided by: Ampersand Publishing

This is Ampersand's first nautical book, a new series that promises to focus on US capital ships of World War II. It follows the format as David Doyle's "Flying Wings" and "Consolidated B-36" books, but is in hard cover. Ampersand got their start in 1993 when Pat Stansell distributed a free issue of Military Miniatures in Review at the IPMS Nationals in Atlanta. Ampersand joined forces with HobbyLink Japan in 2008 and have continued to expand their military AFV publications ever since.

True to the Visual History Series name, the focus of this book in on the visual detailing the development and service history of the USS California. BB-44, nicknamed the "Prune Barge", was one of two USS Tennessee-class battleships and was the fifth ship of the United States Navy named after the state of California. Ampersand is calling this an "Extended" version of their Visual History format and it runs 168 pages packed with large, clear photographs of BB-44 from her 1916 keel laying to 1959, where she was sold for scrap.

I counted 427 well captioned photographs, including four in color. You will also find several scrap drawings showing details along with top and side view drawings at different periods in BB-44's career.

The Table of Contents includes the following:

  • Introduction
  • The California is Christened
  • USS California 1936 (Top and side view drawing)
  • Signal Flags
  • The Pearl Harbor Attack
  • Salvage Operations
  • Return to Puget Sound
  • USS California 1944 (Top and side view drawings, color profiles of Meaure 32-16d)
  • Collision with USS Tennessee (BB-43)
  • The Battle of Surigao Strait
  • USS Califronia 1945 (Color side view in Measure 20-B)
  • Philadelphia, Drydock and Reserve
  • California General Data -1919 (Table)
  • California General Data - 1942 Rebuild (Table)

This is a gorgeous hard-bound book and is well worth the money. I enjoyed that David Doyle didn't limit his focus to just USS California's WWII service. The first thirty-eight pages are dedicated her construction and outfitting alone. Then it's not till page 76 that you get to her sinking at Pearl Harbor. Perhaps the most interesting photographs are of the damage revealed during her salvage and repair. Detailed pictures are also included of the damage inflicted by her collision with the USS Tennessee on August 23, 1944 and then by a kamikaze strike on January 6, 1945. The large clear photographs with interesting captions makes this a great reference book. Highly recommended!

My thanks to The Ampersand Group, Inc. and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

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