|USS Iowa is the lead ship in the United States Navy’s final class of battleships. The “fast battleship” design arose from requirements following the construction of the
North Carolina and South Dakota class battleships and the Iowa class is the result. With a length of about 887 feet long, a standard displacement of 45,000 tons, a
speed of 33 knots and armed with nine 16-inch guns in triple turrets, 20 twin 5-inch/38 and a large array of 40mm Bofors and 20mm Orelikons, the Iowa class was a
formidable force and considered by many as the ultimate battleship design. Over the years, the four ships in this class were modernized which is a testament to how
well designed they are.
USS Missouri may be the most well-known of the class, largely due to it being the site of the Japanese surrender in 1945, but Iowa was the first of the class and saw
action in both World War II and the Korean War. Unfortunately, Iowa is probably more noted for the explosion that occurred in Turret 2 on April 19, 1989 that
claimed the lives of 47 sailors manning the turret. She is currently a museum ship in San Pedro, California.
David Doyle’s latest volume in the “Legends of Warfare - Naval" series is titled “USS Iowa (BB-61) – The Story of “The Big Stick” from 1940 to the Present”. This
series is published by Schiffer Books. The 128-page, hardbound book covers the history of the battleship from her keel laying to her current state as a museum in San
Pedro, California. The book contains 270 photos, spread across nine chapters, with each focusing on a different phase of Iowa’s life spanning now eight decades. Of
the 270 photos, 110 (41%) are in color with some dating back to the 1940s. Each chapter starts with a concise introduction to that portion of Iowa’s career, with
great photos supplemented with excellent captions, providing a visual history.
The photos range from her construction, launching and shakedown cruise to drydock and dockyard views from her various refits and modernization and surprisingly
clear wartime images. Many of the photos are “new” in that they have not been published before and there are some that are more. There are a few images of Iowa in
a floating drydock which would make for a great modeling vignette. There is one very cool image of all four Iowa class ships steaming together in the 1950s. The
numerous detail shots are a modeler’s dream, focusing on different sections of the battleship at different points of her career. Good shots of the radars fitted to her
during the Korean War and images of her modernization in the 1980s will help modelers wishing to build a post WW2 version. What is especially poignant to me are
the series of images showing the inside of one of the 16-inch turrets and the crew working within it, which underscores the horror of that explosion on April 19,