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Saturday, 23 May 2020

Russo-Turkish Naval War 1877-1878

As anyone who has read GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES will know, I love that period of naval history between the American Civil War and the First World War. It was a period of technological development and change that saw warships develop at such a speed that a brand new design could be built and launched ... and become obsolete almost overnight.

There were several wars during this period when navies played a part in the ultimate victory of one side over another, and this is true for the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. The Black Sea became a battleground between the Russians and the Turks, with both sides trying to gain an ascendancy over the other. In the case of Russia, which had been left after the Crimean War with almost no fleet worthy of that appellation, this meant that they had to rely upon ingenuity, heroism, and new technology to even up the disparity between the two sides. They converted merchant ships into extemporised warships, but more importantly, they adopted the new locomotive torpedo (and its predecessor, the spar torpedo) as a means by which they could turn a steam launch into a vessel that could sink a much larger Turkish ironclad, and the sea mine, which they laid in some profusion.

Piotr Olender's RUSSO-TURKISH NAVAL WAR 1877-1878 was unknown to me until it was recommended by David Crook on his blog. He bought a copy on the suggestion of the doyen of naval wargamers, David Manley, and it is without doubt the best book I have read about this war.


This well-illustrated book explains the background to the war, and then covers the operations in the Black Sea and on the Danube in depth before looking at what might have happened if the war had not come to an end. It also contains four detailed appendices that are entitled:
  1. List of inventories of the Russian and Turkish fleets
  2. Artillery armament of the Russian and Turkish ships
  3. Mines in the inventory of the Russian fleet in 1877
  4. Ship plans
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this period of naval warfare.

RUSSO-TURKISH NAVAL WAR 1877-1878 was written by Piotr Olender, and first published in 2017 by Stratus (ISBN 978 83 65281 36 4).

10 comments:

  1. The paperback is temporarily out of stock at Amazon. I know because I bought the last copy on Wednesday, but pandemic delays mean it won't arrive until Sunday. It's good to read your commendation as it means I can really look forward to tomorrow's delivery.

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    1. Mike Hall,

      I must have been very lucky to have got my order in just before the book went out of stock. From what I’ve read so far, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed with your purchase.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Hi Bob,
    Yes, the Pre-Dreadnought era is very interesting in the types of large to small ships that were built. I particularly like HMS Victoria. Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      There were all sorts of weird and wonderful designs produced, some of which (particularly the French ones) looked very steampunk-like!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Hi Bob,
    In the overall Pre-Dreadnought period, I can also recommend the same author/publisher's books on The Sino-French Naval War 1884-1885, The Sino-Japanese Naval War 1894-1895 and his 2 volumes on the Russo-Japanase Naval War.
    Regards,
    Andy

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    1. Andy Hussey,

      Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve been very impressed by this book, and will certainly consider buying others in this series.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. I'd be interested to know anyone's views of the Kindle versions of these, some books seem to work better than others in this format.

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    1. Nigel Drury,

      An excellent question to ask! Too often, good printed reference books turn into pretty poor Kindle editions.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Nigel, I've only "looked inside" the Kindle version but on the basis of this I'd be very sceptical about it (particularly if you intended to read it on an e-ink Kindle or, for that matter, a phone or a small tablet). "Look inside" does not look anything like a normal Kindle book and I'm not sure that it isn't actually a PDF version (though this might anyway be better if viewed on a larger tablet).

    The file is pretty large (over 42Mb), presumably because it contains a very large number of illustrations, and thus is the type of e-book that is particularly prone to the problems that Bob mentions.

    Meanwhile, on the paper copy front, instead of a delivery today I got an email from Amazon saying that they were still trying "obtain the item(s) which you ordered on May 20 2020" so something has happened to the last book is stock that I ordered. I've cancelled the Amazon order and put in a new one from a marketplace seller but I'll have to wait another week for that to be delivered (assuming that it arrives as they also reported only one book in stock, and it cost a bit more).

    In fairness to Amazon this has only happened to me once before in 20 years of ordering books, but a complaint is going in anyway: last time it happened they gave me a £5 credit as an apology so I might as well give it a try.

    I also got an email from Amazon today entitled "New from Bob Cordery" to tell me about "The Portable Colonial Wargame". Better late than never, I guess. It's a pity that clicking on the link for the product page showed the hardback as "temporarily out of stock".

    Amazon's email included a bit about "Customer also bought books by", which is a bit strange as I've no idea who this customer (singular) is - certainly not me. Two of the authors' names were familiar, John Curry and Graham Evans, but I'd never heard of Patrick Todoroff or Andrea Sfiligoi, though they do appear to be miniature rule writers (but SF and/or fantasy rather than historical). It was interesting to see what was available but I'll not be buying.

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    1. Mike Hall,

      I’ve pretty well given up buying reference books in Kindle format because they rarely end up looking as good on the reader as they do in print. That said, those that I do have on my iPad are generally better than they are on my Kindle.

      Good luck with getting your print copy of this book.

      I regularly get book recommendations from Amazon for books written by some bloke called Bob Cordery! Obviously the algorithms used by Amazon to make recommendations don’t take into account the similarity between the customer’s and the author’s names!

      All the best,

      Bob

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