They entered service late in the war and unlike their predecessors continued to serve for many decades after World War II. This class improved upon the design shortcomings of the North Carolina and South Dakota Classes which were designed under the constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.
The author begins with the chain of events which occurred when Japan and Italy both withdrew from the Naval Treaty System. The United States, Great Britain and France invoked escalation clauses in the treaties which allowed for an increase in the displacement limit of the ships to 45,000 tons. This brought about the design of the of the Iowa class which incorporated the superior armored protection of the South Dakota Class with the bow and hull form of the North Carolina Class.
The design and construction of these battleships is discussed in detail, including the various differences between each ship. The original fire control, radar and aircraft (as originally fitted) are discussed. While this section is relatively short, it is informative and covers the major aspects of these ships. The later modifications and upgrades are discussed further in the book as the story unfolds of the late war careers of these ships.
All four battleships are included in the Operational history section of the book, including their activities in WWII from late 1943 all the way through their modernization during the Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War and finally Desert Storm. The Iowa class Battleships, while being late arrivals to the War, proved to be very capable ships. With their new technological upgrades and new weapons systems (including Tomahawk Cruise missiles and the Phalanx air defense system) they remained potent warships and continued to serve into the modern age.
There are many black/white and color photos scattered throughout the book, including many shots of the various weapon systems, controls, radars and turret interiors. Many of the interior photos could have benefited from some photo enhancement as the lighting and contrast are often poor. There are several color profiles; USS Iowa as she appeared when first operation August 1943, USS Iowa April 1984, USS Wisconsin during the Korean War early 1952 and the USS New Jersey during the Vietnam War 1968. There is a beautiful two-page cut-away diagram of the USS New Jersey with many key areas and components of the ship clearly labeled. There are two paintings, one of the New Jersey pounding North Vietnamese positions and another of the USS Missouri launching a cruise missile during Operation Desert Storm. While the paintings are nice, the colors are a bit too vivid giving them a bit of a cartoonish appearance.
There are several supporting charts and tables which include information as to which campaigns each battleship participated in, results of various actions and a complete table at the back of the book listing all the key data and characteristics of each ship including upgrades and when they were installed. There is an interesting “what-if” section in the book with a comparison between the Yamato and Iowa evaluating the two ships and speculating on the outcome of an engagement between them.While they never met in battle, just imagine how titanic the clash would have been if they had!
Overall this is a good reference on the Iowa class battleships. I especially liked the information on the various weapons systems upgrades over their lifespan and I enjoyed the battle stories the author presented.
Rating 4.0 Stars
Review sample provided by the reviewer
Scott Espin – Model Builder International – www.modelbuilderinternational.com
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