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Austro-Hungarian Battleships 1914-18 [Paperback]

Ryan Noppen , Paul Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 18 2012 New Vanguard (Book 193)
Despite imperial politics, a modern Austro-Hungarian battleship fleet was built and contested Italian dominance of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean through a series of daring naval raids that netted greater success than anything the German High Seas Fleet accomplished in the North Sea.

The nineteenth century saw the assertion of Habsburg sea power over the Adriatic from the Austrian inheritance of the Venetian fleet in 1797 to Rear Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff's stunning victory over a superior Italian force at the Battle of Lissa in 1866 to the gradual creation of a modern battle fleet beginning in the 1890s. Austria-Hungary did not have an overseas empire; its empire lay within its own boundaries and the primary purpose of its navy until the beginning of the twentieth century was the defense of its coastline. As its merchant marine dramatically grew in the late nineteenth century, Austro-Hungarian admirals believed that the navy should take a more proactive policy of defense, defending not only the coastline but the greater Adriatic and even the Mediterranean waters which the empire's merchant ships plied. The 1890s saw the beginning of a series of naval building programs that would create a well-balanced modern fleet. Cruisers were constructed for the protection of overseas trade and for "showing the flag" but the decisive projection of Austria-Hungary's commitment to control the Adriatic was the construction of a force of modern battleships. Compared to the British, French, Germans, and even Italians, the Austro-Hungarians were relative latecomers to the design and construction of battleships. Austro-Hungarian naval policy tended to be reactionary rather than proactive; its admirals closely followed Italian naval developments and sought appropriate countermeasures even though the two nations were tenuously bound together by the Triple Alliance pact of 1882. Despite the naval arms race throughout Europe at the time, the navy had difficulty obtaining funds for new ships as the Hungarian government was reluctant to fund a fleet that principally served the maritime interests of the ethnically German portion of the empire. The difficulties experienced in battleship funding and construction mirrored the political difficulties and ethnic rivalries within the empire. Nevertheless by August of 1914, the Austro-Hungarian fleet had a force of nine battleships, three pre-dreadnoughts, and one dreadnought (three more in the final stages of construction). This book will survey the five classes of Austro-Hungarian battleships in service during the First World War.

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Review

"Austro-Hungarian Battleships superbly summarizes a spellbinding subject. And it perfectly complements OSPREY's two-volume study of German Battleships 1914-18 – New Vanguard 164 and 167. Read them together!"
- David L. Veres, www.cybermodeler.com

"In this latest edition of Osprey's New Vanguard series, author Ryan Noppen tells us the story of the big ships of the Austro-Hungarian navy. From their inception through the building of all five classes of ships, we can see how each subsequent design was an improvement over the ones before it. Half of the book is devoted to the operational record of these ships and the various battles in which they were involved. True, most of these actions were against high value shore targets, but they performed their missions as expected. A couple were destroyed by Italian torpedo boats, both occasions being ones where the laxity of security was the cause for loss.
Included in this book are some superlative period photographs of the men and ships. This is additionally enhanced by the excellent art work of Paul Wright. It is a well done addition to the series and tells the story of the interesting, and rarely covered capital ships."
- Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness (October 2012)

"This book is useful on several levels. The ship modeler will find new topics and colour schemes in it. The novice to the field will find Noppen’s work a useful introduction to the subject and the
bibliography a guide to further study. The expert can use it as a handy brief reference work. Noppen’s work is a long-overdue and worthy tribute to long-forgotten sailors and warships. It is recommended."
- The Northern Mariner (January 2013)

About the Author

Ryan Noppen is an aviation author/amalyst originally from Kalamazoo, MI, USA. A Master of Arts holder from Purdue University, he specialized in the history of aviation, completing a major thesis on German trans-Atlantic aviation during the interwar years. He worked as a subject matter expert for a defense firm on projects involving naval and aviation logistics and has taught several college courses on the First and Second World Wars. Currently he is finishing his first book: Blue Skies, Orange Wings: The Global Reach of Dutch Aviation, 1914-1945, to be published by Eerdemans Publishing Company in the spring of 2011. Additionally he is working with Osprey author Douglas Dildy on a book entitled Swept from the Skies, for another UK publisher.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, but a good read. Nov. 8 2012
By Ned Middleton TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I purchased this work as part of my research into a particular Austro-Hungarian Battleship which sank in June 1918 and is one of only three Battleships in the entire world where the sinking was filmed. As an aside, such footage is so rare that I have seen the loss of this particular vessel included in a number of Hollywood films depicting the Pacific War of WW2 - but I digress.

Although I was surprised by the small size of the work (9' in x 7' in - 248mm x 184mm and only 43 pages of text plus Contents, Bibliography and Index), I was quickly drawn into the very readable style of writing which does provide a full understanding of the political machinations of the day and the way in which these impinged on the last days of a great navy.

What I had not previously known was that another Battleship of the same class later became a victim of one of the very first attacks by Italian miniature submarine.

Altogether, the story of the final days of the Austro-Hungarian Navy makes fascinating reading and this account is as interesting as any I have studied. In addition, we are treated to a good selection of B&W historic photographs and some excellent artwork.

NM
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Navy Did You Say? Sept. 28 2012
By octagon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Remember the Sound Of Music's singing Von Trapp family? They escaped post Anschluss Austria after the patriarch and former Austrian Admiral Von Trapp (who commanded Hapsburg submarines in the Mediterranean during WWI) refused to serve in the Nazi Kriegsmarine. A true story. MAD magazine had a funny satirical piece in which he bemoans breaking a family tradition by leaving. Someone asks "do you mean a continuous naval tradition?" to which he replies "no, continuous unemployment." Ya see, Austria's landlocked, har de har har.

Please Note: One of the reviewers, hictempli, claims that the "Anschluss" and "escape" aspects of the Von Trapp story are incorrect according to online information. However, I checked Wikipedia and several other sites which confirm these facts as stated, except that "fled" may have been a better word than "escaped" since the family left openly by train rather than secretly over the mountains as depicted in the film.

Not many people even know exactly what Austria-Hungary was anymore, and many of those who do would quizzically scratch their heads at the mention of their "navy"? However, the domain included the Dalmatian coast and parts of present day Italy's Adriatic shoreline. Since the 17th century Austria (Austria-Hungary since the 1850s) had a small navy, initially officered mostly by foreign mercenaries. The navy was expanded in the mid 19th century with some powerful modern ships and crews drawn largely from Croatia. Included were a couple equipped for ramming, a tactic successfully used by Admiral Tegetthoff against the Italians at the Battle of Lissa in 1866. A class of battleships covered in the book was named for him. This well done title by Osprey picks up shortly after that point, when Austria-Hungary began to build somewhat scaled down versions of early battleships and dreadnought-type vessels. By the time the First World War began they had a credible, powerful fleet sufficient to challenge Italy and it's allies in the Adriatic and beyond.

The format of this series is a bit limited and I would like to have seen more about training and operational use; although, in fairness, these ships were more often conserved to be used as a threat and were exposed to combat only a limited number of times. Sometimes with disastrous results later in the war. Perhaps there wasn't a heck of a lot more to tell. But what there is was well written and done in a comprehensive manner. The technical descriptions are first rate as are the illustrations and rare photographs. A very interesting read for those who think they know everything about the First World War. Highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, but a good read. Nov. 8 2012
By Ned Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I purchased this work as part of my research into a particular Austro-Hungarian Battleship which sank in June 1918 and is one of only three Battleships in the entire world where the sinking was filmed. As an aside, such footage is so rare that I have seen the loss of this particular vessel included in a number of Hollywood films depicting the Pacific War of WW2 - but I digress.

Although I was surprised by the small size of the work (9 in x 7 in - 248mm x 184mm and only 43 pages of text plus Contents, Bibliography and Index), I was quickly drawn into the very readable style of writing which does provide a full understanding of the political machinations of the day and the way in which these impinged on the last days of a great navy.

What I had not previously known was that another Battleship of the same class later became a victim of one of the very first attacks by Italian miniature submarine.

Altogether, the story of the final days of the Austro-Hungarian Navy makes fascinating reading and this account is as interesting as any I have studied. In addition, we are treated to a good selection of B&W historic photographs and some excellent artwork.

NM
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great history of one of the world most forgotten battleships Oct. 6 2012
By Richard Krotec - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book on the austro hungarian battleships is wonderful technical data such as armor thickness to the caliber of guns used is covered in great detail
most austrian battleships had electrically controlled turrets and were very well armed and armored the tegetthoff class battleships had a maximum armor thickness of between
11 3/4 to 12 "inches which for a world war one battleship was quiet impressive however most austrian ships had only about 4 inches of armor on there under hulls which made them
vulnerable to attack and even that would not have been a major problem if the torpedo bulkheads were spaced out further but that had much to do with the financial restrictions
that the austrian navy had to operate under.
Richard
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN BATTLESHIPS, 1914-1918 June 28 2013
By Robert A. Lynn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN BATTLESHIPS, 1914-1918
RYAN NOPPEN
OSPREY PUBLISHERS, 2012
QUALITY SOFTCOVER, $17.95, 48 PAGES, PHOTOGRAPHS, ILLUSTRATIONS, BIBLIOGRAPHY, INDEX

The last major fleet action that involved the Austro-Hungarian Navy took place in 1866. In a confused, close-range melee in the Adriatic, the Austro-Hungarian Navy (Kaiserlich und Koniglich Kriegsmarine) defeated that of the new Kingdom of Italy. The Battle of Lissa was the first time two fleets of ocean-going armored warships faced each other in the 19th Century, and its influence on warship design lasted long afterwards. The Austrian decision before World War I to construct dreadnought-type battleships and transform the navy from a purely coastal defense force to one capable of fighting on the high seas revolutionized the Mediterranean naval situation.

The Austro-Hungarian Navy suffered even more than the Austro-Hungarian Army in the steady reduction in military expenditure that lasted into the first decade of the 20th Century. By 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Navy consisted of four modern dreadnoughts, three 12-inch gunned pre-dreadnoughts, and a dozen elderly battleships and armoured ruisers. The new battleships and cruisers completed n the eve of World War I were the work of few dedicated naval officers who managed to overcome the institutional lethary for which the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was notorious. However, even these few modern units could play little role in a World War, ranged against Great Britain and France. With Italy eventually joining the Allies, the Mediterranean was no place for Austro-Hungarian surface ships. The war was to be prosecuted more successfully by German-supplied submarines and torpedo boats, rather than the great ships acquired at such cost.

The Austro-Hungarian fleet would remain the classic "fleet-in-being", secure in its anchorage at Pola. Its commander, Admiral Anton Haus resisted pressure from the Germans-and some from his own countrymen-to send the fleet to Constantinople for operations against the Russians in the Black Sea. He considered the scheme impracticable, if only because Constantinople lacked sufficient coal and docking facilities. The main reasons, however, were his desire to keep the fleet intact in the face of the uncertain attitude of the Italians and his understandable reluctance to leave the Austrian coast exposed. That concern was justified when Italy concluded the Treaty of London with the Entente on 26 April 1915 and entered the war within a month.

Within hours of the Italian declaration of war, Haus took the fleet to sea on 23 May 1915 and bombarded various points on the Italian coast. It was the first and only time the entire fleet would be at sea for a military operation during the war. Nevertheless, the fact that there was a nucleus of six to seven modern and powerful Austro-Hungarian battleships meant that the French or Italians could venture far into the Adriatic only if they were prepared to meet them. This meant employing similar heavy ships, which was dangerous under the altered conditions of war in which submarines came to play an increasing role. The French and Italians chose not to take this risk, and the Austro-Hungarian fleet by its very existence raised the potential price of any offensive, and thereby fulfilled a useful function preserving the Austrian coast from attack.

The Austro-Hungarian Navy succeeded in maintaining lines of communication with Austrian forces in Albania and on the whole remained loyal and effective until the end of the war. It remains the classic case of a "fleet-in-being," and because the French and Italians could never agree on a joint commander in the Adriatic, the Austro-Hungarians actually tied down the battle squadrons of two navies in watching them. On 30 October 1918, Emperor Karl transfered remaining units of the Astro-Hungarian Navy to the new state of Yugoslavia.

In keeping with the upcoming 100th Anniversary of World War I in 2014, Osprey Publishing has published AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN BATTLESHIPS, 1914-1918. Author Ryan Noppen has written a detailed and concise history of the five classes of battleships that were in service during this conflict. Rather then looking at a second class fleet, the author has managed to give the reader a solid and concise history of a navy that hasn't really been given its fair share of credit due to it being overshadowed by the operations of the Imperial German fleet. This book, while not addressing all the ships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, is an excellant primer for anyone wanting more information on this much overlooked navy.

Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard
Orlando, Florida
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for the money Feb. 15 2014
By Quintin Trammell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No complaints given the price. Easy read. Nice pictures. Not extremely detailed so if you are looking for comprehensive coverage you won't like this book. If you want a general intro overview of some very interesting ships, you will be pleased.
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