by Steve Wiper of Classic Warships
Reviewed by Timothy Dike
|The wait is over, Warship Pictorial #12 is here, and I may be a little biased 1, but it was worth it. The Benson class was an improved Sims class with two offset boilers as opposed to one. They share the same basic hull, but the Bensons are distinguished by their second funnel. Benson and Gleaves are sometimes all lumped into the Benson class but actually represent two different classes. The contract to build these ships was awarded to two different shipbuilders, the Bethlehem Steel and the Gibs & Cox firms. The Benson class had their own machinery design, while the Gibs & Cox used the USN Bureau of Engineering designed high pressure machinery. This is my favorite class of destroyer, as they were used in virtual every battle and at times were called on to go up against Battleships, as on November 13th 1942.|
|These ships are also sometimes referred to as Benson / Livermore class, but the Livermoore was actually a ship in the Gleaves class. This class of Destroyer was the third most numerous next to the Fletcher and Gearing classes, but unlike those ship classes there were almost no two ships that were identical. Those many different variations are well documented in this book.||
|As with his other books, Steve Wiper has provided coverage of this ship class from it's beginnings, and several prewar versions are included. There are many good photo's that show the original armament with three of the open five inch gun installed aft (five total). Note the aft boat cranes, and aft deckhouse with searchlight platforms. The photo quality is top notch and all the images are sharp and clear. I did find one image that is mirrored on page 36.|
|Early in the war most of these Destroyers had that #3 five inch mount removed and extra 20 mm guns added. Some had a 1.1 anti air gun installed, and a some had the #2 quintuple torpedo launchers removed to save weight. These ships had some of the most unusual MS-12 mod camouflage designs applied to them and these are well illustrated in the photo's in this book, as well as many of the other Camo designs that were used|
|As mentioned above, these ships had many variations and these are well illustrated by the detail photo's that show those subtle changes. Note the square shaped funnels of the Benson class in the detail view on the right, the Gleaves class had a round funnel. Other class variations such as single and twin torpedo launchers, square bridge and reduced height bridge, and even the anti kamikaze versions with no torpedoes and twin and quad 40 mm added are all documented in the many photo's.|
|These ships also went through some Minesweeper (DMS) configurations that are also shown. Quite a few of these ships were transferred to other Navy's and served out their careers with some modifications like the Turkish, Japanese, and Taiwanese ships shown on the right.|
|This book was started as a "photo album", and the cover was
already printed before it was decided to include some drawings. There are
some scale CAD drawings showing the McCalla in Plan and Elevation and the
Aaron Ward in elevation views as they appeared in 1942. Also included are
deck levels with bow and stern views and several sections of the ship at
various points to show some of the hard to see detail.
Also included are a list of the ships in the two classes, vital statistic and a brief history of the design history.
Conclusions: If you are planning on building one of the future Pitroad Benson class destroyers in 1/700 scale, or the already available Blue Water Navy Benson and Gleaves class 1/350 kits, this book will provide you with many great reference views. It's also a great book to track the design history of this ship class though a wealth of photo's. This book is 72 pages, with 171 photos and the above mentioned plans and at a retail price of $15.95 it is a bargain.