Gunboats of World War I Osprey New Vanguard 221 Book Review

Gunboats of World War I

By Angus Konstam

Series: New Vanguard 221

Paperback, 48 pages

Publisher: Osprey Publishing, April 2015

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472804988

ISBN-13: 978-1472804983

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.9 inches

“While these little gunboats were small, vulnerable and often poorly armed, they were able to operate where more conventional warships were unable to venture, and could insert a considerable influence in the campaigns they participated in.  Put more simply, these little gunboats punched above their weight.  This then, is their story.”

Few, if any, readers of this blog are unfamiliar with Osprey Publications and their New Vanguard series.  This is a typical volume with the content we have come to expect – numerous but small photographs, several very nice illustrations and profile artwork, and specification tables giving the technical specifications of the subjects.  Crammed in between all that is a general overview of the histories and designs of the various gunboats, necessarily brief due to space restrictions.  These books make an excellent introduction to the topic and can be easily read in a single evening, or while waiting for an appointment.

The title “Gunboats of World War I” is perhaps a bit narrow, as several classes of monitors are also covered.  In fact, the classification of gunboat and smaller monitor displayed considerable overlap, in practice there was often no differentiation between the two types.  The text also covers the developmental and operational histories of several designs preceding WWI.  The section dealing with “Gunboats in Action” was fascinating, although far too brief.  Overall a good quick read on the subject which inspires further research.

I look into the subject of small combatants such as these with an eye for potential modeling subjects.  These gunboats (and monitors) would make interesting subjects for a scratchbuilding project, most being relatively small at around 200 feet in length and of a relatively uncomplicated design.  In 1/72 scale that is about 3 feet in length, a little less for some classes.  Several have interesting histories as well which makes them all the more attractive.  This book is a good place to start for those with a desire to explore the topic.