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Schiffer Pub. Legends of Warfare ( Naval ) Liberty Ships

ISBN Number:
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Schiffer Books
Retail Price:
$19.99 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

Legends of Warfare ( Naval )

Liberty Ships

America's Merchant Marine Transport in World War II


Author David Doyle is back with another interesting Legends of Warfare ( Naval ) title. The subject of this book should be of at least tangential interest to armor fans, as how do you suppose all of that armor ( not to mention all the other necessities for prosecuting war oceans away from America ) got anywhere near the fronts? Without the huge numbers of these ships constructed in record time by American shipyards, World War II may well have had a different conclusion.

Only the manufacturing might of World War II America could have done it; over 2,700 of these vital ships built in 18 different shipyards, some in as little as two weeks during the wartime years. Sadly, only three of these ships remain, with two in the USA, one in San Francisco and one in Baltimore. Luckily, the two Liberties than remain in the US are seaworthy, and function as Museum ships. I've been aboard the Liberty Ship pictured on the cover of this volume, the Jeremiah O'Brien, which is tied up at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. It's terrifically well preserved / restored, and in fact the ship sailed under it's own power to Normandy, France for the 50 year anniversary of the the D-day landings. She was there in 1944 as well.

The Legends of Warfare series of books published by Pennsylvania based Schiffer Publishing is an extensive and ever growing line of volumes on the famous and well known machines of war, divided by subject into Ground, Naval and Aviation subjects. These volumes share similar formats and production values, and are modestly priced at just $19.99 USD. Books in this series that I’ve examined were all found to be well worth the modest cost, and were useful additions to the modeler or military history buff’s library.

 Vital Statistics

Format - hardcover, square format

 Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper,  112 pages

 Size - 9.25" x 9.25"

Photos - 175+ black and white, and full color images. 

Tables / Drawings / Diagrams -  tables of technical / performance specifications, no drawings.

All text and photo captions are in English

What's in the Book?


Above - the book's very simple table of contents

 After a brief two page Introduction where the need for massive numbers of ocean going cargo haulers to be standardized, built and placed into service as rapidly as possible is discussed, the book gets right down to business with Chapter 1: The Wartime Crisis.


As is typical for works by the author, he includes good photo coverage of the manufacturing aspect of the book's subject. In this case, that would mean several very nice images taken at the shipyards ( 18 in total ) that built these vitally needed ships.


Another feature in this book that is typical for works from this author is the liberal use of full page images, which allow for better viewing of detail. The above image show a Liberty ship back stateside for repair / refitting after being damaged by Japanese bombers at Guadalcanal. The circled items in the shipyard photo are newly installed modifications and special cargo placed aboard. There's a landing craft apparently being carried as deck cargo, seen to the right of center in the above image.


Above - full color images are found scattered throughout the book.

A Note on Captions - the captions ( actually all text work in this book ) are very complete, well written, and are quite "readable". The what's, where's, when's and whatever else may be applicable are all well covered. Any areas of special interest in the images are pointed out by the author as needed as well.


This first chapter has many interesting photographs of the Liberty ships in world wide action in WWII, showing them on convoy duty, dockside being loaded with war material of all sorts ( including the locomotive seen above ), in shipyards under repair, and under fire ablaze. 


The book's second chapter, The Liberty Ship Preserved, is by far the larger of the two chapters. This chapter provides a great many "in detail" style images of the two stateside survivors of the 2,700+ Liberty ships that once roamed the oceans. 

Above can be seen a simple, clean specifications table on Liberty ships.


Photographs in this chapter are all in full color, and range in size from quarter page size up to full page in size. All are very crisp, sharp, well lit and composed. Good detail viewing is possible with even the smaller images in this volume.

As seen above, Liberty ships carried several guns for defense, crewed by the US Navy, a branch called Armed Guards. Armed Guard crews were usually made up of an officer, and up to 30-40 enlisted sailors. My Dad was in the US Navy Armed Guard early in the war..his first ship was "armed" with telephone poles until guns could be sourced and fitted.

Please Note - the photographs contained in this book are far better than the images of them that I took for the purpose of writing this review!


Photographic coverage of the Liberty ship is very complete, from stem to stern, top to bottom, topsides and below decks. It appears to me that all major fittings, nautical gizmos and widgets ( sorry, I'm not really a ship guy ) are pictured in good detail.

Above - some interesting interior views of crew spaces inside the Jeremiah O'Brien. 


 Above - great image of the SS Jeremiah O'Brien at home at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.


This book has all of the traditional hallmarks of a David Doyle work. Well chosen historical photographs that show wartime examples of the Liberty ships in a wide range of actions and locations, and a terrific selection of crystal clear "in detail" style images that enable the reader to see clearly the components that made up these ships. The wide range and quality of the detail images in this book will be invaluable to anyone building the Trumpeter Liberty ship kit.

The text and image captioning work throughout the book is second to none. Content, clarity, and conciseness of the text and photo captions are always high points in works by this author, this book doesn't disappoint. Consistency is another hallmark of this author.

Anyone with interest in the Second World War will find this book of interest, given the important role that the subject matter of this book played. Naval war historians, model ship builders will of course find this book interesting. This is a book that will find a home on many book shelves. Another winner in the Legends of Warfare line!

Highly Recommended!

Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland 

AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region



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