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US Navy Dreadnoughts 1914–45

US Navy Dreadnoughts 1914–45 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review June 2015 Title US Navy Dreadnoughts 1914–45
Author Ryan K. Noppen Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2014 ISBN 9781782003861
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $17.95


Launched in 1906, HMS Dreadnought utterly altered the calculus of naval warfare – spurring a global arms race.

Now Ryan K. Noppen recaps America's response in US Navy Dreadnoughts 1914–45 – number 208 in Osprey's extensive "New Vanguard" series.

Contents examine "development, characteristics and service" of the first five classes of American "all-big-gun" battleships:

  • South Carolina
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Wyoming and
  • New York

Coverage outlines design, building and launching details.  And technical specifications conclude each summary.  Subsequent sections survey Mexican and World War I operations, interwar activities, and World War II neutrality, European and Pacific actions.

Surprises abound. US designs for all-big-gun warships, for instance, actually preceded that of Britain's HMS Dreadnought. But "bureaucratic obstacles", Noppen notes, blocked America from "launching the world's first warship of this kind".

There's more. USS Texas OS2U Kingfishers – with depth charges – blunted a Vichy French armor attack during Operation Torch. And Texas and Arkansas expended over 250 12- and 14-inch shells to destroy just one German 24-cm gun at Cherbourg in 1944!

Photos, color plans and action paintings illustrate Osprey's effort. A cutaway and extended captions augment the account. And a conclusion, selected bibliography and index neatly wrap things up. But that's not WWI "dazzle" camouflage on USS Utah's profile.

The first five classes of US dreadnoughts proved essentially "experimental". They suffered construction, layout, propulsion, armament and general "teething" issues. But lessons learned helped refine America's next-generation "super dreadnoughts" – and, ultimately, later battleship designs.

Want a great introduction to that fascinating tale?  Grab Osprey's entertaining and informative little book!


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!