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Warrior to Dreadnought: Warship Development 1860-1905 Hardcover – Jan 2004


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About the Author

David K. Brown was a distinguished naval architect who was Deputy Chief Naval Architect of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors. He published widely on the subject of warship design, including The Grand Fleet. He died in 2008. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 14 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic case study of warship development Aug. 17 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is very detailed and technical. However, it is not prohibitive in its presentation, and anyone interested the capital ship design and development will already have the vocabulary under his belt to tackle this book. Yet, what this book offers is much more than a simple chronology of ship development. It provides telling insights into all the research and politics which went into making these 45 years, perhaps the most fecund in ship development, ever--the ships themselves were only the final products of a convoluted design process carried out in the face of both the comfort of unchallenged-empire, and the uncertainty as to the future of naval warfare. With this book (and ideally a copy of the now out-of-print but excellent Steam Steel and Shellfire) you'll be set to intelligently explore this very exciting period in warship design.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
What You Wanted to Know June 1 2005
By Ignotus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Amateur naval enthusiasts, with little or no background in naval engineering, tend to accumulate isolated bits of knowledge about warship design from Jane's, Brassey's, Conway's and random photographs and diagrams in sundry sources. Warrior to Dreadnought provides a wealth of basic information regarding the evolution of armored ships, in a single large-format volume. The information is largely technical, in keeping with the author's professional standing. Yet, it is presented in an accessible fashion. If you have read terms like "metacentric height" and "righting lever" -- or perhaps dropped them in conversation with a fellow hobbyist -- but don't really know what they mean, this book is your salvation.

The author sketches some of the key (and largely unknown) personalities who shaped the Royal Navy during the last half of the 19th century, though without rendering them in full detail. This is in keeping with the book's technical focus, but may leave some readers unsatisfied.

The book includes at least one photograph of each major warship discussed in the text, but seldom more than one. Additional views of some of the vessels would have been helpful. Despite its technical focus, the book includes only a few ship plans.

These criticisms aside, this book fulfills a specific -- and, for some of us, critical -- need for basic information concerning warship design, during the period when the modern capital ship evolved.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A perfect study May 26 2008
By Alexander T. Gafford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is the second of a series of five written by D. K. Brown covering the design of ship for the Royal Navy from 1800 to the late 1980s. Brown retired from the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors as Deputy Chief Naval Architect in 1988 and is hugely qualified as well as deeply interested in history. I have read the last four of the volumes and recommend them all, but I think this one is really special. My view is that the period covered actually is one in which the rate of technology change in marine architecture and engineering was extremely high, arguably more rapid than it is today. A warship of 1960 might have had some value in 2005 but a warship of 1860 had NO value in 1905. The author is able to take us into the past to understand why technical decisions in various directions were taken and what our modern understanding of their implications were. Yet he is fully cognizant of the state of knowledge of the time that led to those decisions. One of the best features of this volume, also found in the others, are technical appendices that provide introductions to some fundemental concepts of naval architecture such as ship stability, rolling, strength of ships,and so on. The technical level is below that to be found in introductory texts in naval architecture but with enough quantitative material to allow clear knowledge of the issues involved.
Yet Brown is quite cognizant of the fact the ships are tools for war and must be fit for that purpose and the effect of the technical characteristics on fitness for that purpose is a theme repeatedly sounded in the couse of this and the other texts. The book is quite well illustrated with many contemporary photos and drawings as well as simple charts and graphs to cover various technical points. It might be nice to have had the old plans reproduced in larger scale but one can only put so much in a book of a certain price and size.
One last good thing (and I have no bad things) to say about this work is that Brown is very aware that naval ship design is a human activity carried out by real people just like himself and he does not fail to delve into the personalities and politics of naval ship design of the period, drawing conclusions as he sees appropriate.
A wonderfully engrossing and informative book! Nov. 26 2013
By Lee Selkirk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that far exceeded my expectations. Many "review/summary" military books today seem to be creatures of committees. These texts are modular efforts where the author's responsibility ends with the text and a bunch of "creative" types take over to deal with the visual aspects, probably utterly unaware of how ill-equipped they are to do a decent job. The end result is a book with a fairly decent text, poorly chosen photos, and pathetically inaccurate drawings, giving the average reader a false understanding of the subject in hand, however. . .

Mr. Brown has produced what is close to a history of the evolution of British warships from wood to the Dreadnaught! I can not heap enough superlatives this work. The clear, impartial-yet-probing text covers just about every aspect of the trials and tribulations that faced the Admiralty and their designers over 60 years rapid technological progress. The manner in which they coped with ever-changing conditions is facinating to read. Even what appear to be blunders become understandable as Mr. Brown traces the process to failure, high-lighting the clash of personalities, financial constraints, voter-driven political pressure, threatening foreign naval developments. One becomes so engrossed with this myriad of factors that only admiration for those long-passed gentlemen results. "Warrior to Dreadnought" is the finest military/technical book i've read in several decades.

To saturate one's understanding of this most challenging and interesting period in British naval history, "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905" is the ideal companion to "Warrior...". Also, the bibliography offers a sterling array of references for those interested in enhancing their knowledge of any aspect of the people, historical, and technology of the period.

About the only improvement possible would be to include more photos or drawings of vessels discussed. Of course the best improvement would be to double the size of the text, but then i speak as someone completely entranced by this work. It was with great regret that the last page was read: "Please, Mister, may i have some more?"
How national ego creates international tension. Feb. 4 2013
By Simon Scheuer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When men tried to make warships "invulnerable" they came face to face with the realities of engineering. Politicians and naval leaders, few of which had any contemporary understanding of science and engineering fundamentals would year after year demand battle ships that could defeat all opponents and not get sunk while doing so. This book outlines the extremes forced on war ship designers to try to meet these requirements. Armor thicknesses went to a full two feet of iron on the HMS Inflexible of 1880 while guns, still muzzle loading at that time got monstrously large so that only as few as two could be mounted on a warship. Guns improved and reliable breech mechanisms facilitated and speeded loading. At the same time, advances in the manufacture of armor allowed lesser thicknesses to provide complete protection from these guns. These scientific battles provided technological advances every few years such that by the time a ship was built, it was outdated! The near miraculous development from HMS Warrior, an armored, iron hulled, steam driven ship with a broadside battery that could destroy any wooden ship still on the seas to the HMS Dreadnought of 1905 mounting a sophisticated battery of all big guns that made all other battleships at sea for that time obsolete, is detailed in this book.
Brown talks about the technical niceties of design so that even non-engineering types can get the gist of the problems ship designers faced while trying to produce the designs demanded by the Admirals and politicians.
The feedback given when these ships actually went into action were sometimes downplayed but never ignored so that new elements of design were constantly added to the overall requirements of each new ship.
This is not an adventure story for the superficial mind but a thoughtful look at generally unappreciated hunks of iron and steel that shaped history more than is recognized by the masses.

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