Book Review: The Last British Battleship HMS Vanguard 1946-1960

By Ray Burt
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 128
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781526752260
Published: 20th May 2019

The ninth HMS Vanguard, bearing one of the most illustrious names in the Royal Navy with honors from the Armada to Jutland, was the last and largest of Britain’s battleships and was commissioned in 1946. Her design evolved from of the King George V class and incorporated much of the fully developed design for the two battleships, Lion and Temeraire, that were laid down in 1939 but never completed. At 813ft length overall and 42,300 tons, she was the last battleship to be built in the world and the only ship of her class. She was built during the Second World War and incorporated existing twin 15in mountings, and was part of the Royal Navy’s response to the combined and increasing number of German and Japanese battleships in the early 1940s.

Another beautiful work from RA Burt, this time on HMS Vanguard. Even though completed after hostilities, Vanguard was intended to part of the post war battle fleet. Admiralty planning had already earmarked battleships Nelson and Rodney as training ships with Vanguard joining the four surviving King George V class in service.

Serious thought was given to completing Vanguard as an aircraft carrier. With the British propensity to the armored aircraft carrier and the centerline lifts, the carrier version would have been obsolete within the same time frame of service for Vanguard as a battleship.

Her only claim to fame in service was a Royal Tour to South Africa. With postwar austerity and an empty treasury, Vanguard spent most of there brief career in port.

Profusely illustrated with photographs (including many interior views) and drawings from the author, which are first rate.

The book is a masterpiece.

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