Friday 18 August 2017

Victorian Era Navies

For those who want to get bogged down in detail for their Victorian Era naval wargames, I've just bought (don't tell MrsJ, she thinks I have too many books already) a book reprinted from the period.

The title is self-explanatory, and the author was in the United States Navy from 1844 and served in practically all the early steamers. Eventually becoming chief engineer of the New York Navy Yard and later of the North Atlantic Fleet. He saw action in the Mexican War and the Civil War.

As the blurb states, the book "...contains a complete and concise description of the construction, motive power, and armaments of the modern warships of all the navies of the world; naval artillery, marine engines, boilers, torpedoes and torpedo-boats.

In order it covers the French, (5 chapters), British (14 chapters), Italian , German, Russian, Turkish and Austrian, Holland and Spain, Denmark ,Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Brazil, Chili (sic), Peru, the Argentine Republic, Japan and China. Mostly in single chapters but sometimes combined. I find it odd that the United States Navy only warrants a single chapter. Perhaps he was security conscious about his own national force?.

As well as going into depth about the various ships, many described in minute detail, he also covers personnel and dockyards with their operations. There are five chapters on the naval ordnance of the various nations, comparing the differences between them.

Al in all a very long book (613 pages) and not one to be read in one go, but ideal for checking facts on rate of fire (one Royal Navy example being given as a shot every eleven minutes) speeds, tactics, etc. Worth hunting out through your local library.

Note, the pale stripe down the left of the cover is due to sun-bleaching of the jacket while on someones bookshelf.

I've a new book on warships coming soon, a coffee-table book so probably only good for appearances. I'll put up a description when I get it.


Tuesday 8 August 2017

Cold War Museum

Can it really be nearly six months since my last entry? I seem to have been really busy over those months, but obviously with nothing to say.
MrsJ and I have just returned from a few days in Lithuania, where we attended our son's wedding to a lovely young lady who will do him the power of good. We were rather busy over the few days (weddings there are quite different from here, lasting up to three days. We even saw one being done at the ebtrance to an inn where the reception would be!), but we were able to get a couple of days out and about. I was amazed at the lack of road traffic, and had been warned by Stuart about the state of roads off the main drag, often poorly maintained or even just gravel surfaces.

One of our jaunts was to the Zemaitija National Park where we visited the Cold War Museum, one of the old missile silo complexes now decommissioned.

In the middle of the woods, along a bumpy track, the site is quite small and holds four silos, plus ancilliaries. There is entry to the bunkers and a marked route round showing various aspects of the Cold War and possible nuclear confrontation of those times from a Soviet point of view. It was chilling to read of exactly how close they thought we came to a nuclear exchange at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. We passed through the various rooms and narrow corridors (being told they would have been even narrower when in use because of all the conduits and fuel pipes running along them) past old machinery and fuel rooms, offices and one of the silos. At the end is a thought provoking film/computer generated showing of a city under attack and the results.
Definitely an interesting and thought provoking experience, slightly enlivened by the occasional strange translation of texts into English. (eg. "you will see the rigorous colonel which is authorized by his country to "keep a finger" on the "nuclear button"...) 
According to a map, there were another four of these establishments in the area, all with four medium range SS-4 missiles armed with 2 megaton thermonuclear warheads aimed at the cities of Western Europe.