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Austro-Hungarian Battleships 1914–18

Austro-Hungarian Battleships 1914–18 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review September 2012 Title Austro-Hungarian Battleships 1914–18
Author Ryan Noppen Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2012 ISBN 9781849086882
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $17.95


During World War I, Austria-Hungary – Imperial Germany's principal European ally – maintained a powerful Mediterranean "fleet-in-being".  And like contemporary great powers, the Dual Monarchy's maritime might and defensive deterrent rested with battleships.

Another excellent introduction from Osprey Publishing, Austro-Hungarian Battleships 1914–18 recaps all 16 vessels in five battleship classes from 1892 through Austria's 1918 collapse.

And what a ripping read it is.  Contents course through politics and planning, design and development, and service and combat.  Class-by-class, author Noppen divides principal sections into background, armament, armor and machinery.  No proverbial stone remains unturned.

Among principal players, readers meet the canny Generalschiffbauingenieur Siegfried Popper – whose deft and dextrous hand, despite persistent political problems, designed all the Empire's pre-dreadnoughts, semi-dreadnaughts and dreadnaughts.  His performance amidst bizarre, Byzantine constraints often bordered on amazing.

Text next turns to wartime Austro-Hungarian battleship exploits – and a handful of crucial Adriatic actions against Italy.  Here, excitement reigns, and accounts read like thrillers.  Coverage then concludes with fates of individual warships in the maelstrom of postwar politics.

Unfortunately, I remain mathematically maladroit.  And Noppen repeatedly sent me seeking English equivalents for Metric measurements.  I also wish he provided tables of ships by class.  That would have clarified contents.

Neither point, however, detracts from Osprey's terrific little tome.  Paul Wright's outstanding illustrations suitably season sections.  And photos, extended captions and bibliography further flavor the author's admirably indexed effort.

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!

Rabidly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!