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Book Review
Yangtze River Gunboats 1900-49
Osprey Publishing Yangtze River Gunboats 1900-49 New Vanguard 181
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by: Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


China never really wanted outside influences inside its borders. European countries wanted to tap into the trade markets. So, after a series of wars and lopsided treaties Europe and the US were given access in China.

To protect their interests from pirates, bandits, and the government they began brown water naval operations on the Yangtze river.




The Great River

Patrolling the Yangtze

Gunboat Design and Developments

Life on the Gunboats

British and American Gunboats




One of the things I have always liked about the Osprey books is how they are written. This is another well written book. It details the early days of the river boat force and carries the reader up until the end of the riverboat force in 1949.

The book states the years 1900-49, but in reality the the river forces began in 1858 under Lord Palmerston. He is credited with the beginning of what became known as gunboat diplomacy. This actually took place in 1850 when Britain began to intervene in Greek affairs. So after the end of the Opium Wars this same concept was used in China.

Small naval forces were utilized along the coasts and then eventually up into the Yangtze river. Over time the boats evolved into purpose built craft. World war II effectively ended the river boats service. Some smaller boats were pressed into service after the war. Their patrols lasted until 1949 and the Communist take over of China.

This book is written by Angus Konstam. He is author of over 30 titles for Osprey.


There are 40 small black and white photos in the book. Due to their age many are fuzzy, but will still provide decent reference for the subject.


You will also find 11 different color illustrations. These are done by veteran Osprey Illustrator Tony Bryan.

Final Thoughts...

Even though there is a dearth of river boat kits at the moment you never know what is in the works. This is a nice book to get and hold onto. If for the only reason to expand your knowledge of this forgotten time in Brown water Naval history.

Thank you....

Thanks to Fred Boucher for the images. We both received a copy to review, I did the text, Fred did the images.
Highs: Very good inclusive book of a unique time in brown water naval history.
Lows: None noted
Verdict: Very nice reference for anyone wishing to build one of the many Yangtze River Boats.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-408-6
  Suggested Retail: $17.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 06, 2011

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Adams (goldenpony)

Copyright 2020 text by Jim Adams [ GOLDENPONY ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Just happen to be reading my copy now, nice review. I have no idea of what smaller scale ships are available, but Iron Shipwrights does a rather nice 1/192 kit of the USS Parnay PR-6, in resin, including photo etched parts and a laser cut styrene sheet for the upper decks. The Sand Pebbles is still and excellent movie on the subject of China Station sailors, and helped convinced me that I wanted to join the Navy, and be a snipe.
AUG 07, 2011 - 02:22 AM
I like "Sand Pebbles" a great deal. I like how the main character was a regular enlisted sailor. Of course being a snipe was a big plus for me as well. I think there is also a 1/700 Panay available. Aoshima is also coming out with a couple Japanese river boats too.
AUG 11, 2011 - 02:07 AM
This is an exciting title for me. I, too, really enjoy The Sand Pebbles. The most personal aspect of the book is that it contains a photo of USS Isabel, the ship upon which my dad escaped Java after his ship, USS Houston, was sunk.
AUG 12, 2011 - 12:14 PM
Niko Models brought out the USS Panay in 1/700 some time ago. The 1/700 Aoshima kit contains 2 ships - Seta and Hira. They are simple and with a small amount of PE, quite presentable. Checkout my pics of Seta on the FineWaterline website:- LINK Jim S
OCT 31, 2011 - 10:05 AM

What's Your Opinion?

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