Caxton ed., 2003 (first published 2001). 224 pp., profusely illustrated with photographs & plans. D.j., 29 x 25cm. FINE. The decade of the 1870s is often referred to as the 'Dark Age' of British warship design where modern technology was viewed suspiciously and a confusing mix of ship types entered service. The author demonstrates, however, that this traditional view is deeply flawed as he reveals the full range of strategic, logistical and administrative thinking which influenced bold warship development that laid the foundations of the dreadnoughts. He examines the valid strategic and technical reasons that lay behind the policies of fitting sails to ironclads and arming the ships with muzzle-loading guns well into the 1880s. He considers the chief factors that influenced the designers : government policies and finance, materials available and construction methods, sails versus steam, armament, design policy and naval requirements, etc. Whole chapters are devoted to the INFLEXIBLE and Mr. Reed ; from INFLEXIBLE to COLOSSUS ; COLLINGWOOD and the 'Admiral; class of 1879-81 ; and the Cruiser quandary. Profusely illustrated with photographs and plans.