USS California, A Visual History of the Golden State Battleship BB-44 - By David Doyle - Ampersand Publishing - The story of the battleship USS California is
that of a survivor. She was a
Tennessee-class ship that was launched in 1919 and was the first battleship to be completed with a turboelectric drive. She served well in
peacetime and was moored in Battleship Row on December 7, 1941. She was sunk at her moorings after being struck by two torpedoes and one direct and one near-
miss bomb hit. Like some of her sister battleships, she was raised and essentially rebuilt with a completely new profile and was able to exact some revenge against
Imperial Japanese forces in the latter part of the Pacific War.

The incredible story of the “The Prune Barge” is told through photos, text and captions in David Doyle’s book,
USS California- A Visual History of the Golden State
Battleship BB-44
. This hard-covered 168-page volume chronicles the life of this ship, from her keel laying to being laid up in mothballs, using by my count, using a
total of 418 photos. Every part of the ship’s service is covered:  peace-time cruises and exercises, sinking at Pearl Harbor and her salvage, her rebuilding and action
during the war. The photos are well chosen, are as clear as possible and they document the different fits this ship had. A very interesting sequence of photos, taken
from just about the same vantage point over a span of time, show the progress made during the construction of BB-44. There is another series of photos that show her
being repaired in a floating drydock, which also show how these repair stations operated. Many photos also document life on board the ship.

For modelers, this is a treasure trove of photos that show plenty of details along with overall shots. The book has very good plan and profile line drawings of
in her 1936 and 1944 fits and there is a color port and starboard drawing of the MS32-16d camouflage pattern she wore right after her reconstruction in
Puget Sound. There is another starboard color profile showing her in a MS 21 scheme. Color drawings of a Kingfisher and Seahawk floatplanes are also included. My
only nitpick is that it would have been nice to have a line drawing of
California as built to complement the other two fits.
USS California- A Visual History of the Golden State Battleship BB-44 is a must have if you are planning to build a model of this ship, be it one of the 1:350 scale
resin kits from
Iron Shipwrights or one of the 1:700 scale Trumpeter offerings. With so many photos in one place, there is really no better visual reference. My thanks
to Ampersand for the review copy.
Felix Bustelo