Guide to Sources for Research into the Royal Navy
The ships – major works
In the writing of these volumes the authors had access to relevant official documents; however, the inferences drawn and the opinions expressed are those of the authors themselves, who are responsible for their reading or presentation of the facts as stated.
Ships of the Royal Navy: An historical index Vol. I Major Ships and Vol. II navy-built trawlers, drifters, tugs and requisitioned ships: J.J. Colledge (Newton Abott : David and Charles, 1969, 1970)
This two volume work is the standard reference, Vol. I: Major Ships listing some 13,000 vessels and Vol. II: Navy-built Trawlers, Drifters, Tugs and Requisitioned Ships listing some 11,000 vessels.
British and empire warships of the Second World War : H.T. Lenton (London : Annapolis, Md. : Greenhill Books ; Naval Institute Press, 1998)
This is perhaps the author’s magnum opus, the result of a career’ study by an experienced naval officer. The data Lenton has accumulated probably exceeds anything held in official records. The book catalogues in encyclopaedic detail the navies of Great Britain and her Empire; this is a primary reference work on British, Dominion and Colonial naval forces of World War II. The background history of each category of warship is given with extensive tables for individual ships. For each class of warship, the dimensions, displacements, armament, and armour thickness are detailed. The whole is supported by 634 photographs – some of which are unique. The work is divided into the following sections under these prime headings : Major Surface Warships (16 types). Flotilla Vessels (11 types). Minelayers, Minesweepers & Auxiliary Patrol Craft (17 types). Trawlers, Whalers & Drifters (6 types). Amphibious Forces (44 types). Coastal Forces (12 types). Miscellaneous Vessels (more than 53 types). In addition, three appendices cover Pendant Numbers and British radar and Asdic.
The sailing Navy list: all the ships of the Royal Navy built, purchased and captured: 1688-1860 : David Lyon (London : Conway Maritime, 1993 )
The first complete and authoritative list of Royal Navy ships built, purchased or captured between 1688 and 1860. Organized by type and class, packed with data and information including dimensions, tonnage, armament, building data and fates ; the book covers prizes, purchases, coastguard and customs vessels, harbour craft and even hulks. It is profusely illustrated with contemporary draughts, paintings and models and is the first comprehensive listing of all British men-o’-war during the era of fighting sail - a work of scholarship that took almost 20 years to complete. The author also chronicles the development of the sailing warship.
The sail and steam navy list: all the ships of the Royal Navy 1815 - 1889 : David Lyon and Rif Winfield (London : Chatham, 2004)
A ground-breaking study of the sailing vessels of the Royal Navy from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until the close of the Age of Sail. David Lyon had planned a follow-up on the ships of the Royal Navy in the era of transition from sail to steam power, and began work in preparation for that volume. Sadly, this was cut short by his death in a diving accident during 2000 in the Bahamas (he was an enthusiastic underwater archaeologist). Shortly after his death, his colleague Rif Winfield, author of the best-selling Fifty Gun Ship, and subsequently the author of a series of volumes under the heading British Warships in the Age of Sail, took over David's accumulated notes, added them to his own extensive research on Royal Naval warships, and carried on this work.
British warships in the age of sail, 1603-1714 : design, construction, careers and fates : Rif Winfield (Barnsley : Seaforth, 2009 )
British Warships in the age of sail, 1714-1792 : design, construction, careers and fates : Rif Winfield (Barnsley : Seaforth, 2009 )
British warships in the age of sail, 1793-1817 : design, construction, careers and fates : Rif Winfield (London : Chatham Publishing, 2005)
Rif Winfield, after completing The sail and steam navy list (above) took over David Lyon's accumulated notes, added them to his own extensive research on Royal Naval warships, and carried on this work, producing these three volumes (a revised edition of "1793-1817" - the first to have been published - was printed by Seaforth in 2008).