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Essential Reading

  • "The Rules of the Game:  Jutland and British Naval Command" by Andrew Gordon (1996).  I feel this is overall one of the best history books ever written.  It has majestic breadth and depth.  Someone whose interest is not piqued by this volume should find another hobby.  Best source:  Amazon.co.uk
  • "In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914" by Professor Jon Sumida (1989).  For a description of this, see below.  Best source:   Bookfinder.com 
  • "Dreadnought Gunnery at the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control" by John Brooks (2004).  You may have read one or more history books that glibly told you that the Royal Navy had shoddy fire control systems.  I say "glibly" because only two writers have done much research into the matter, and they are Prof. Jon Sumida and John Brooks.  Sumida's book draws upon many sources, primarily letters, and takes a firm stand that the Royal Navy passed on a vastly superior system of fire control.  Brooks's book, written primarily from an engineering perspective, differs strongly and employs a deep technical comparison of the options available to the RN before the war.  One cannot reasonably understand the uproar on this topic without seeing the seminal offerings in each camp.  Best source:  Paperback edition from Routledge

Ship Plans

  • Nearly every Royal Navy ship you can think of has a set of shipyard plans at the National Maritime Museum (use that link or email Plansandphotos@nmm.ac.uk to inquire about a particular ship, specifying its name and date of completion).. These plans are tremendously detailed, and often in 1/48th scale which is quite large (a battleship's sheets may be 12 feet by 3 feet).
  • The French Government maintains a generous number of free warship plans on the web. Others can be purchased or researched, I am sure. The page is in French.
  • There is a large plan collection of German warships in the Bundesarchiv in Freiburg (often called BAMA). Their website is in German only at the moment (Apr 2007).  If you have experience working with BAMA, please share them with me
  • Many of the USA's ship plans can be found in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), perhaps in the cartographic section of the College Park facility.  If you know more of the facilities and resources there, please contact me.
  • If you want to create accurate models of guns, I recommend ordering copies of plates from handbooks for specific weapons from  the UK's National Archives and also any pertinent plates from The Sight Manual 1916.
  • The German firm Christian Schmidt specializes in nautical and military books, but has a small and excellent collection of commercial plans ideal for modeling. The focus of their plans is German ships, but not exclusively so.

Web Resources

  • World War I - the Maritime War Bill Schleihauf's encyclopedic site is the best I've found for World War I-era naval information.

  • NavWeaps.com is a great site that has weapons data for many nations. Well footnoted from respected sources.
  • The ADM section of the UK's National Archives. This government repository is located in Kew outside London and has a great many detailed technical documents on ships, armaments and doctrine; the web site is merely for allowing you to order paper copies or to arrange a visit. I've noted some of those I have copies of or which I find most interesting here.
  • German-Navy.de has a superb English-language section on all ships of the High Sea Fleet and Kriegsmarine. Perhaps the most complete and consistent such resource to be found.
  • Kaiserliche Marine Foren is a wonderful German BBS catering primarily to WW-I U-boats.

Libraries and Archives

  • The UK's Admiralty Historical Library is located in the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth.  They do not have a web presence, but they possess many manuals and technical books akin to those at TNA.  Visits are made by appointment only.
  • Also in Portsmouth is the Royal Naval Museum Library, which is a little more accessible.
  • The library at HMS Excellent on Whale Island in Portsmouth.  It is available by appointment only: Lt/Cdr Brian Witts, MBE, The Museum Curator, HMS Excellent, Whale Island, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Computer Games and Simulations

Modeling Projects

  • Ralf Guse's SMS Koenig Albert website highlights his continuing work on this Kaiser class dreadnought of the High Seas Fleet.

  • Troels Hansen's HMS Warspite website has fantastic details on the Queen Elizabeth class super-dreadnoughts of the 5th Battle Squadron.

  • Max Yang's RenderYARD Project includes his models featured on this site as well as some excellent WW-II subjects.

  • Imperial U-Flotilla 1914-1918 is Heinrich Lang's effort to model all the WW-I U-boats. He is also hoping to create a simulation game.

  • Mechanisms of Imperial Japanese Naval Warships in 3-D is the site which inspired the Dreadnought Project. The modeller, Ed Low, is extremely talented. His subjects are WW-II ships.

  • Dmitry Malkov's www.battleships.ru has very detailed 3D models of 54 different Russian ships from the time of the Russo-Japanese War.
  • Tony Schnurr's SMS Pommern Model is a superb chronicle of a perfectionist's struggle to make a scratch-built physical display model of this German pre-dreadnought. Contains scores of photos of intricate woodworking.

  • SMS Viribus Unitis 3D Project is an astonishingly in-depth site of a William Wilkie's 3D model of an Austro-Hungarian dreadnought.

  • World War I Models is primarily one of WW-I aircraft modelled in physical and virtual form. Some of the 3D modelling is breath-taking.. for instance, that of J Thompson and Mark Miller.

  • 3DHistory.de site contains spectacular models of HMS Hood, KM Bismarck, and KM Prinz Eugen. Thomas Schmid has worked closely with James Cameron on his Bismarck project.

Print Periodicals and Email Lists

  • Warship started as a quarterly publication back in 1977, and is now published annually. It is an incredible resource, and is issued now as a hard-bound book. Please check my complete online catalog of all Warship editions published to date.

  • Warship International, published by International Naval Research Organization is a quarterly journal focusing on ships and naval technology. You must subscribe by sending them a check by postal mail... contact information is available here. I know checks and letters are somewhat of a hassle, but I would not mention it if this were not truly worth your while!

Overviews of the Navies and Technologies of the Era

The standard sources of this type are the "Jane's Fighting Ships" books covering the period (for example, the compilation called "Janes Fighting Ships of World War-I", now out of print. But there are better sources for the same manner of information:

  • The Grand Fleet by D. K. Brown. You'll have to look for this on Bookfinder.com. Brown is a former Deputy Chief Naval Constructor for the Royal Navy, and its Grand Fleet is the focus of this work (leaving US and German ships very much on the periphery). However, its quality is unique. The information is technical enough that a background in naval architecture would be required to fully absorb its value, but not necessary to find it uniquely informative and enlightening on the topics it covers, including issues of stability and habitability of ship designs, and the results of armor tests. These areas are generally beyond the scope of any other work.

  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921. You'll have to look for this on Bookfinder.com. This book is incredibly valuable, and substantially more informative than a contemporaneous Janes edition would be. Its contributors place the tabular data which is the extent of Janes' work in a context of additional descriptive section for each class of ship which is lacking in Janes. It combines big-picture with fine-grain detail in a novel and valuable manner.  There are also volumes for ships dated 1864-1905, and 1922-1945.

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