Reviewed by Brett Green
Squadron/Signal "In Action" books are not limited to aircraft and armour subjects. "US Heavy Cruisers in Action Part 1" is the fourteenth book in Squadron's "Warships" series.
The appearance and layout will be familiar to anyone who has seen Squadron's earlier "In Action" books. The cover is evocatively illustrated with Don Greer's painting of the USS San Francisco during the third Battle of Savo Island in November 1942.
The opening plate is a full-page aerial view of the USS New Orleans. This gives a terrific view of the ship's details.
Text is well structured. The introduction briefly returns to the origins of the cruiser in the 19th Century, then focuses on the seventeen newly-designated heavy cruisers built from 1929 to 1937. These ships assumed much of the burden for the battleships that were lost at Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941. This was more than a challenge, as at 10,000 tons and with eight inch main armament these "heavy" cruisers were significantly less well armed and armoured than the battleships whose role they assumed. The text continues chronologically along the lines of the various cruiser "classes".
As is usual with Squadron's "In Action" books, this title is packed with useful photographs and line drawings. Up to four photographs appear on each page. A good selection of ships and their camouflage schemes are represented. It might have been nice to see more full-page photos for the sake of seeing details on these big ships. Captions are self-contained and descriptive.
Being somewhat obsessed by camouflage schemes, I was very pleased to see a table listing US Navy Ship colours of WWII. This table includes the official designation of the colour and quotes FS number equivalents.
Seven ship profiles appear as a centrefold. These colour profiles give a good impression of the variety of schemes carried by these important ships. The pages also include small profiles of a Kingfisher and a Seagull.
I approached this book from the viewpoint of a novice. I don't have any prior knowledge of US Heavy Cruisers. I found that this book was an excellent introduction to the subject. I gained an appreciation for the history and variety of this important class of warship, and the book provided inspiration aplenty for modelling projects.
Tamiya has recently released the US heavy cruiser Indianapolis in 1/700 scale. This book contains no less than nine photographs of this, the last major Allied ship to be sunk in the Second World War. These photos include a dazzling multi-coloured scheme carried by the ship in 1944.
This book will be more than useful for any modeler building the Indianapolis, or US warship fans in general.
Thanks to Squadron for the review sample.
Review Copyright © 2001 by Brett