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Book Review
Ottoman Navy Warships 1914-18
Ottoman Navy Warships 1914-18 New Vanguard 227
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

Ottoman Navy Warships 1914-18 is a title by Osprey Publishing Ltd. It is the 227th book of their New Vanguard series. Authored by Ryan K. Noppen and illustrated by Paul Wright, this little-known story is presented in a 48 page softcover book, plus electronic books. The IBSNs are different per format and the softcover ISBN is 9781472806192.

The Ottoman Empire was a world player of centuries. Even as it rotted from the inside, it still maintained a formidable military, at least on paper. The Ottoman Navy reflected the turmoil in the factions of the government spanning the age of the ironclad, through the Industrial Revolution and into the twentieth Century. A disjointed effort driven by war debts and shifting alliances led to the Ottoman Navy equipped with a crazy quilt of ships with little operational hegemony. With an oddball assortment of aging vessels crewed by undertrained personnel commanded by officers untrusted by the government, the Ottomans fumbled into the First World War.

Yet when the Ottomans were upset by the mistrust of their favored allies England and France, and threw in with Germany, their disorganized fleet actually helped keep the Triple Entente (England, France and Russia) at bay. That they did with the arrival of two modern German warships, a battlecruiser and an light cruiser, given shelter while escaping an overwhelming Allied naval force. Those two ships became the backbone of the Ottoman Navy and tormented the larger British, French and Russian fleets.
    At the start of the 20th century the Ottoman Navy was a shadow of its former might, a reflection of the empire as a whole - the "Sick Man of Europe". Years of defeat, nepotism, and neglect had left the Ottoman Navy with a mix of obsolete vessels, whilst the list of prospective enemies was ever-growing. An increasing Russian naval presence in the Black Sea and the alarming emergence of Italy and Greece as regional Naval powers proved beyond all doubt that intensive modernization was essential, indeed, the fate of the Empire as a naval power depended on it. So the Ottoman Navy looked to the ultimate naval weapon of the age, the dreadnought, two of which were ordered from the British. But politics intervened, and a succession of events culminated in the Ottoman Navy fielding a modern German battlecruiser and state-of-the-art light cruiser instead - with dramatic consequences. In this meticulous study, Ryan Noppen presents a fresh appraisal of the technical aspects and operations of the warships of the Ottoman Navy in World War I. It is the first work of its kind in the English language - produced with a wealth of rare material with the co-operation of the Turkish Consulate and Navy. Packed with precise technical specifications, revealing illustrations and exhaustive research, this is an essential guide to a crucial chapter in the Aegean arms race. - Osprey

Ottoman Navy Warships 1914-18 reveals this interesting chapter of the Great War naval war through 48 amazing pages. The book is divided into the following chapters and section;
    Ships of the Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman Navy at the Beginning of World War I
    German-Ottoman Operations in the Black Sea, 1914-17
      Yavuz versus the Pre-Dreadnaughts of the Black Sea Fleet
      The Last Ottoman Fleet Action
      Cruiser Operations in 1915
      Midilli’s Raid on Schlangen Island
    Operations in the Dardanelles, 1915-18
      The Big Guns of Barbaros Hayreddin and Torgut Reis
      The Cruise of Demirhisar
      Countering the Allied Submarine Threat
      The Largest Air-Sea Battle of the War

    End of the War, 1918

I found this well written interesting history easy to read. The history and background of the Ottoman Navy is explained in the first 14 pages of Introduction and Ships of the Ottoman Empire. Therein we learn about the conflicts that shaped the Ottoman procurement schemes and their relationships with Western European governments. In the short 4-page The Ottoman Navy at the Beginning of World War I we learn of the political schisms that wracked the Ottomans, how they ended up with Germany, while trying to avoid active operations.

German-Ottoman Operations in the Black Sea, 1914-17 in eleven pages takes us through the brilliant misfortunes of the Ottoman Navy, now heavily influenced by the Germans, reinforced with the two modern German ships. Ottoman actions included raids into the Black Sea, attempts to sweep the seas of the Triple Entente, and critical convoy escorts. Relying on the technical superiority of battlecruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim - formerly the Kaiserliche Marine Moltke class Goeben - the Ottoman Navy practically had a “fleet of one”. The ship was able to engage superior numbers of dreadnaughts and pre-dreadnaughts yet usually escape unscathed. Even the older ships were valuable as we learn through 11 pages of Operations in the Dardanelles, 1915-18. Using spotters on the ground, obsolete battleships harried French and British warships with indirect fire. Yet the greatest feat was by the tiny destroyer Muāvenet-i Millīye, which snuck into a British anchorage and sunk pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Goliath. An Ottoman destroyer also holds the dubious distinction of being the largest warship to be sunk by aerial bombs during the war.

The rest of the book discusses the fate of the Ottoman Navy. Interestingly, the WWI German/Ottoman battlecruiser gadfly Goeben/Yavuz survived over the years to actually become a NATO fleet asset until 1960! The book is worth the shelf space just for that fact!

Art, Photography, Graphics
Artist Paul Wright creates seascapes of warships that alone are almost worth the price of the book. This book is no exception! He created another artistic naval masterpiece with a full page illustration of Muāvenet-i Millīye attacking HMS Goliath. Another full page "in-action" scene is the aerial attack against Yavuz, aground on a sandbar.

Further artwork includes profiles and planforms of vessels
    1. Protected cruiser Hamidyne

    2. Battlecruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim

    3. Light cruiser Midilli

    4. Torpedo boat and destroyer Sultanhisar and Muāvenet-i Millīye

Each portrait includes a descriptive sidebar. One final piece of work includes a two-page cutaway: battleship Torgut Reis, keyed to 13 components.

Ottoman ship specifications are further presented through tables, including:
    Ship's Complement (German and Ottoman)

These tables are
    a. Mecidiye Specifications

    b. Hamidyne Specifications

    c. Samsun Class Specifications

    d. Barbaros Hayreddin Class Specifications (Barbaros Hayreddin and Torgut Reis)

    e. Yavuz Specifications

    f. Midilli Specifications

    g. Demhirhisar Class Specifications (Demhirhisar, Hamidabad, Sivrihisar, and Sultanhisar)

    h. Muāvenet-i Millīye Class Specifications (Muāvenet-i Millīye, Gayret-i Vataniye, Numane-i Hamiyet, Yadigar-i Millet)

Almost every page contains a photograph. Typical of photos of the era, they range from studio quality to amateur exposures. Yet I am surprised at thew general high quality of each one. Unfortunately, most are small, perhaps 2 x 3 inches. All except for two are black-and-white. Two color shots include recent photos of artifacts at a museum, a Bulgarian ship similar to Sultanhisar, and the torpedo tubes from Muāvenet-i Millīye, posed in front of a series of mines used by the navy. One photo is a combat shot of three Russian pre-dreadnoughts in battle line being engaged by Yavuz, splashes from the shells bracketing the lead ship!

Ottoman Navy Warships 1914-18 addresses a topic that, to me, is quit exotic. The Ottoman Empire was in its final days when WWI broke out, yet it possessed a potentially formidable navy. This book educated me about the organization and ships that I have read about in other topics, yet knew nothing about. The selection of photographs are remarkable.

The informative text is further supported by excellent artwork and graphics. The only disappointment is the small format of many photos.

Historians, modelers and artists of the Ottoman Empire, Great War naval operations, and transition era of the pre-dreadnaught to the modern battleship should be satisfied with this book. I happily recommend it.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on Model Shipwrights!
Highs: Excellent gallery of photographs - some in color - and artwork. Interesting text.
Lows: Many of the photos are of small format.
Verdict: Historians, modelers and artists of the Ottoman Empire, Great War naval operations, and transition era of the pre-dreadnaught to the modern battleship should be satisfied with this book.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472806192
  Suggested Retail: $17.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 10, 2015
  NATIONALITY: Turkey / Türkēe

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.



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