Book Review: Big Gun Monitors: Design, Construction and Operations, 1914-1945


by Ian Buxton

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008. Pp. 256. . Illus., maps, plans, notes, biblio., index. $74.95. ISBN: 1591140455

Originally published in 1978, Big Gun Monitors has long been the standard work when dealing what naval architect and historian Buxton, more recently the author of Swan Hunter Built Warships, calls Britain’s “coast offense” ships that played an important role in providing inshore fire support, particularly during the First World War. 

Greatly resembling the famed American ironclad Monitor, these modest-sized, shallow draft vessels, armed with one or two heavy guns from 6-inch up to 18-inch, were an improvisation which proved so valuable that the Royal Navy ultimately built, converted, or requisitioned over 40 of them, the last of which was not relinquished until 1965.  Originally published in 1978, for this revised and expanded edition Buxton has added much new material, including many new illustrations, plans, and diagrams.  The treatment of each ship is quite extensive, and often involves interesting detail about ship and heavy gun design and construction, inshore operations, including amphibious landings, and even British defense policy.

This is a valuable reference about the monitors and naval operations in the first half of the twentieth century.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close