Oops, did I order that many?

“Sir Ian, there is a parcel for you”.

With those words from the Concierge at the condo, I was handed two cards from the PhilPost Central Makati Post Office telling me there were two parcels there. Now I was expecting a cover for my LG tablet, a couple of books and some wargame figures (English Civil War 6mm to be exact). I wondered which two parcels they would be. I had a meeting in Pasay in the morning then thought I would come back to the Post Office as it would be lunchtime. I prepared to travel back in time to 1954.

I dropped in and handed the cards over with my ID card. In record time the staff returned with two parcels for me – a small envelope and a huge box from Amazon.com. I had one of those moments looking at the box, paid the 224 pesos for the retrieval of the two parcels and returned home for lunch (and to open the parcels of course).

The stack that came out of the box
The stack that came out of the box

The small envelope certainly contained a cover for my tablet. I then opened the large Amazon box and found 7 books there, 5 more that I had recalled.

Oops.

At least none of the books were repeats of books I had previously purchased and I recall now that I had purchased a few book as they were all in my sphere of interest.

Next time I think I will leave a note to myself on the fridge with details of each order. Then again, opening the parcel was like Christmas as I had not remembered what I ordered so each book was a pleasant surprise.

The loot is shown below! Oops, I did I order that many? I guess I did.

 

Amazon.co.uk makes business more interesting

Amazon.co.uk redefines business for me
Amazon.co.uk redefines business for me

I was surprised, sitting down to my morning coffee and catching up with the overnight emails. Amazon.co.uk has put a smile on my face even larger than the smile the coffee produces. I received this on their email this morning … “As you’ve shown an interest in similar books, you might like to know about these Business, Finance & Law Books titles from our Books Store” and “More in Business, Finance & Law Books.”

Now these are my type of Business, Finance & Law Books books!

Boys Own Battleships – Book Review

20160518_211843[1]Pen & Sword Military have produced the first volume of what will be a wonderful series of books. This is British Warship Recognition – the Perkins Identification Albums originally written/illustrated by Richard Perkins. This is Volume 1 dealing with Capital Ships 1895-1939 (ISBN 9781848323827).

First off I must note that this book is not for everybody. It is a book that you will either love or “just not get”. The older reader (and I count myself in that group) who can remember part of their childhood being spent with an exercise book, coloured pencils and a book on, say German World War 2 aircraft and who then spent hours redrawing the aircraft from the pictures in the book will “get” thins book. I can understand what Perkins was attempting. Had I been in his position and possessed half his talents I would probably have done the same thing.

Perkins was a keen amateur photographer and he photographed and ended up with one of the largest collections of photographs of warships. His collection of photos was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum where it can still be seen today and where it forms the core of the historic photos naval section. Whole he was photographing he found many photographs were neither identified nor accurately dated. He then decided to compile an album of his own drawings incorporating as much detail as possible on the individual ships. He really looked closely at the details, the differences between ships of the same class and then differences in a vessel over time.

This project grew into an enormous resource covering virtually every Royal Navy ship from 1860 to 1939, when security restrictions forced Perkins to stop work.

The book is, in essence, a photographic reprint of Perkins’s original art books where he set about to draw and paint the British fleet. He then noticed over time that vessels changed – davits were moved forward, funnels thinned or thickened, smaller calibre weapons moved around the vessels, masts removed or changed and so on.

20160518_211937[1]He then decided to paint the differences in the vessels as he saw them. The example I selected is five slightly difference drawings of HMS Agincourt seen to the right.

You will notice that I do not have any scanned images to illustrate but rather photographed off my phone. There is a reason for this. The book is big. A page was bigger than my scanner plate. I could not sit back in my favourite chair with this book in my lap. My lap is not big enough. To look through this I had the book placed on a table and work from there.

The book however in and of itself is superb and the drawings speak for themselves. Younger readers may not understand the significance of this work but all will be able to appreciate the art involved. This book belongs in the collection of any naval enthusiast or historian. Best of all, it is the first of 8 volumes. The next volume is due for release in September this year – it will deal with Armoured Ships 1860-1895, Monitors and Aviation Ships. I for one will be interested int he aviation ships extant before 1895.

As to Perkins’s first volume. One word.

Magnificent!

 

Images of War – Two Books Reviewed

SCAN0015Two more books from Pen & Sword Military came into my hands recently. These are both in the series of Images of War designed to provide a general military history of a war or campaign with an emphasis on contemporary photographs. The ones I have seen have concentrated on the Eastern Front of World War II, although other theatres are covered as well.

The first of the additions to my collection was the Battle for Kharkov 1941-1943 written and compiled by Anthony Tucker-Jones (ISBN 9781473827479).

By the time of the Battle for Kharkov the titanic struggle between Germany and the USSR was well underway with both Hitler and Stalin does their best to stymy their professional generals – one by interfering micro management, the other by bloody pogroms eliminating generals that were perceived as a threat.

SCAN0011Kharkov was the site of four battles during World War 2. The first was when the Germans took Kharkov, but were too slow to prevent the Soviets moving the tank factory  the home of the T34 tank. The second and third battles were unsuccessful attempts by the Soviet forces to recapture Kharkov and the fourth, after the Germans loss at Kursk, finally saw Kharkov liberated and back in Soviet hands.

Most of the photos in this collection have come from the Scott Pick WWII Russian Front Original Photo Collection which consists of over 2,500 photographs, not only of soldiers and tanks but also of buildings and civilians. There are a lot of inspiring photographs in there for the modeller and wargamer.
The second Images of War has the general title of Hitler versus Stalin – The Eastern Front 1941-1942 – Barbarossa to Moscow. This volume was written and compiled by Nik Cornish (ISBN 9781783463985).

Mongol in Russian Service - a German POW
Mongol in Russian Service – a German POW

This volume is a more general volume than the Kharkov one and covers the first two years on the Eastern Front with a fine collection of photos.

Included in the photos on this volume are lend lease tanks in Soviet service (see the image of the M3 Grant below) including American and British tanks.

Also included are images of the French Hotchkiss H-35 pressed into service with Souma tanks in German Panzer Battalion 211. About 100 French tanks were pressed into German service and for me it is a good excuse to purchase some more models.

One of my interests has been the Battle of Khalkin-gol (Nomonhan) where the Soviets and Mongolians defeated the Japanese and Manchurians. Also of interest were the Korean soldiers captured by the Soviets from the Japanese and pressed into service, only later to be captured by the Germans and then the Americans.  The blog post here, Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army, tells tha tale.

Central Asian (maybe Kazakh or Mongol) in Russian Service
Central Asian (maybe Kazakh or Mongol) in Russian Service

I was also aware of the Mongols having marched into Berlin with the Red Army towards the end of the war. This is highlighted by the T34/85 tank donated by the Russians to the Mongols and on a pedestal and permanent display in Ulaanbaatar at the foot of Zaisan.

It was then interested to see the next two photos. The first is clearly a Mongol, also captured by the Germans. Some of the captured troops from the more disaffected areas of Central Asia were pressed into German service, the others were parked in concentration camps.

Hotchkiss H-35 tanks in German service
Hotchkiss H-35 tanks in German service

The next figure down is also from Central Asia but his nationality is less clear. He appears to a Kazakh or similar.

M3 Grant tanks used by the Soviets
M3 Grant tanks used by the Soviets

These two books are a great addition to my World War 2 library and provide wonderful evidence for my having a German tank battalion of Hotchkiss and Souma tanks facing off against Soviets using M2 Stuarts and M3 Grants.

The things I enjoy mostly about this series are the photographs. The books are well illustrated and provide inspiration for modellers and wargamers as well as providing source material or evidence for the more serious student of World War II history. Most of the photos were new to me and this series provides good value for money. They are available in traditional softback bindings as well as eBooks. Recommended!

German Battlecruisers – Book Review

9781848321816The good folk at Pen & Sword Military sent me a care package recently with four books in a very large package. I will look at the others later but the first book to take my interest is ShipCraft 22 dealing with German Battlecruisers.

This book provides a useful companion to the modeller when engaging in a build of one of these vessels, however the images of Jim Baumann’s scuttled Hindenburg model in 1/700 scale alone is worth getting the book for!

The ShipCraft range of publications are a combination of contemporary photographs coupled with colour references for paint schemes and a critical review of available model kits. In short, they are the type of publication aimed at the ship modeller or perhaps naval wargamer to help get the colour and appearance of their models correct (or at least to the stage of “that looks about right”).

The publication would also be useful to the naval enthusiast as well although to be honest, if looking for information on the vessels, the first book I would reach for when looking for would be my copy of Conway’s. If looking to paint some German Battlecruisers, then this publication would be first to come to hand.

The book runs to 64 pages, a size familiar to modellers and. There are sections in the book covering Design; Careers; Model Products; Modelmakers’ Showcase; Camouflage Schemes; Appearance; Plans; and Selected References.

The vessels covered in the book are Blücher; Von Der Tann; the Moltke class (Moltke, Goeben); Seydlitz; and the Derfflinger class (Derfflinger, Lützow). Mention is also made of the Battlecruisers that were not completed.

The Design and Career chapters provide a reasonable summary, largely covering the service life of the vessels and briefly the battles they fought. There are some useful comparison tables as well. The table looking at the armament characteristics for example is quite useful and illustrates the difference in range for guns of the same weight (see the slight range differences between the 11” L/45 and the 11” L/50 guns).

The next chapter deals with both the model kits available in plastic, resin, paper and white metal along with extras for gilding the lily on those kits. The extras discussed include photo-etched parts, wooden decks, brass gun barrels and masts to add a greater level of realism to the models. A fair roundup of the kits available is given.

Next is for me the pièce de résistance, the chapter dealing with the work of many modellers. Work by the likes of Jim Baumann (perhaps the best ship/water modeller I have seen), Horst Luecke (I can’t believe it is a paper model), Kostas Katseas, and Nick Dogger amongst others. Baumann’s scuttled Hindenburg is special as well as the 1/700 scale crew on Dogger’s Lützow.

Two colour illustrations follow, one of the Derfflinger in standard SMS colours circa 1917 and the other showing a camouflage pattern for the Yavuz (Goeben) circa 1942. There is then a discussion on the Appearance of each of the vessels noting the differences between sister ships. The section also discusses camouflage and the lack of it on German vessels in the First World War noting that the standard scheme for vessels was based around light grey. The book finishes with a number of plans and references.

This book provides a useful companion to the modeller when engaging in a build of one of these vessels, however the images of Jim Baumann’s scuttled Hindenburg model in 1/700 scale alone is worth getting the book for! The authors are Robert Brown and Steve Backer with George Richardson drawing the plans and the colour artwork. It is published by Seaforth Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84832-181-6. The ShipCraft series of books are designed to provide information for modellers and enthusiasts.

British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers – a Review

coverI was very much looking forward to my last trip back to Australia. Apart from getting to see mother, I had a review copy of British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers (ISBN: 9781848322530) written by Malcolm Wright and published on 23 September 2015 waiting for me. This volume covered Capital Ships, namely Battleships and Aircraft Carriers of the British Commonwealth, something I have had an interest in since reading up on Task Force 57 and so I really could not wait to open the package. Whilst most will recall the British Commonwealth Navies efforts in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, their exploits are less well known in the Indian and Pacific Oceans at the time.

What is also not often realised is that by the end of the Second World War, the United Kingdom had more aircraft carriers under steam than any other navy with the exception if the US Navy. The British Pacific Fleet in 1945 for example consisted of 6 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 9 escort carriers and 2 aircraft maintenance carriers, with a total of more than 750 aircraft. It also contained 4 battleships.

HMS Malaya
HMS Malaya

The current volume from Mal covers the Aircraft Carriers and Battleships of the British Commonwealth Fleets, often with their pre-war colours as well as their active service camouflage in the Second World War.

I should state at the beginning that I have known the author, Malcolm Wright, for a number of years and you can see my name on his acknowledgements page, not from any addition to the story of the ships and camouflage he is writing about but more from being his part-time technical geek when things go wrong with the computer when he is working on the drafts.

I mentioned that I could not wait to open the parcel containing the book. Wow! I was impressed with Mal’s first volume but this volume surpasses even the high standard of Volume 1. Perhaps it is because it is a book about the battlewagons and carriers or perhaps it is Mal’s drawing ability and the new tools he is using but this volume now sits on top of my book pile for easy reach when I have an hour spare and a hot cup of lapsang souchong in hand.

The book follows the format of Volume 1, with sections on the Reference Sources Mal has used, Paint Types and Schemes, a glossary of Symbols used with the drawings then the vessels themselves. The 5 chapters covering the ships deal with the World War 1 era battleships and battlecruisers, the modern battleships, the monitors, then aircraft carriers and lastly fleet carriers.

Some of the colour chips
Some of the colour chips

Before starting on the ships, Mal discusses the various paint types and schemes, both the official Admiralty schemes and the unofficial. He also looks at Admiralty special schemes and the Admiralty Standard Scheme. Mal also provides a page covering British and Commonwealth Warship Paints During WWII being a page of paint chips, very useful for ship modellers and wargamers. This is also of interest to those with just an interest in warships to see an example of the colours used on British Commonwealth ships during WWII although as Mal will agree, the colours are at best an approximation of the colours, subject both to the limitations of printing as well as there being no extant example of the colours – see for example the discussion on the Mountbatten Pink colour scheme.

Aircraft gloassary
Aircraft glossary
Gun and equipmwent glassary
Gun and equipmwent glassary

There are two pages of, for want of a better term, a glossary for the drawings. The first covers aircraft symbols used in the book to indicate the aircraft carried by various vessels although the markings and colours may vary. The second page is a glossary of the symbols used for weapons and electronics in the book.

There are multiple views of the different vessels reflecting the changes in camouflage over the years. For examples, HMS Queen Elizabeth is illustrated in 1915 as she appeared when providing bombardment support at Gallipoli, then her 1936 colours, followed by 1941 (port and starboard), 1943 (port and starboard), 1943-44 (port and starboard) and then 1944-5 (port and starboard) – ten illustrations showing the progression of camouflage schemes and colours on this vessel over its service life. This pattern is repeated through the book.

HMS Victorious - 1945
HMS Victorious – 1945

To book not only concentrates on British Commonwealth vessels but also covers those vessels transferred to other navies, for example, the Royal Sovereign, which was transferred to the Soviet Union and was re-christened Archangelsk.

There are top views of some vessels as well. The top views become even more valuable with the aircraft carriers. For example, the illustration of HMS Victorious when she was serving in the British Pacific Fleet.

HMAS Albatross
HMAS Albatross

The book is rounded out with a chapter on the escort carriers, some of the more colourful of the capital ships in the British Commonwealth forces and with a discussion of HMAS/HMS Albatross.

I highly recommend this book and it is available from:

Pen and Sword Books (the publisher)

Amazon 

The Book Bug

Books

I was on the bus late last night, coming back from an evening swim at one of the public pools in Singapore1 and I was looking for a book to read from my Kindle cloud2 when I noticed a young lady further up the bus take a near new paperback from her bag and start reading.

The book itself, physically, was appealing and it occurred to me that since I have been reading books and magazines almost exclusively on my phone and tablet3 I may have lost something. I remember posting  back on 15 February 2006, whilst I was still working in Mongolia, that I enjoyed writing, not so much stringing words together on a page to communicate an idea but the physical action of writing words with a good pen that just felt right into a notebook that similarly felt good.

Reading a physical book gave me the same pleasure, a pleasure that I have sacrificed to technology and the future.

I still have physical books and some of them I would not trade for electronic versions. These are books like reference works on uniforms and such. To use them electronically would require a whole rethink by the publishers on how to present them, something that has not happened yet.

So, have e-books and magazines taken something away from me? Yes, they have.

On the plus side however, on the bus after finishing my book, I did have the choice of reading one of about 5 pieces of Scandinavian crime fiction that I had parked in the cloud. I also did not have to worry about whether or not I would finish the book I was reading before going out as I could always select another from my cloud based bookshelf!

Technology giveth and technology taketh away!


Really Intelligent Comments

1. $1 entry, $2.60 in bus fares … winner for those of us with absolutely no bloody income whatsoever
2. Yes, like the physical bookshelf, I have purchased books in the past on my Amazon Kindle accoiunt on the grounds that I will get around to reading them in the future
3. I have even given up using my Kindle now!

Paint Schemes of British and Commonwealth Warships of WW2 — Review

Paint Schemes of British Commonwealth Warships of World War 2 - Vol 1 coverMal Wright has been researching and drawing ships (and painting them1, and modelling them, and Wargaming with them) for more years than I have been a wargamer. I believe his researches into ships goes back some 40 years and apart from combining through dusty reference books long forgotten in the back of libraries and using the Internet for more recent searching, his researches have also included talking with many veterans whilst they were still with us. His discussions on that most mysterious of warship colours, Mountbatten Pink2 being a good example of this.

This book is then the first of what will hopefully be a series on warship colours throughout the Second World War, by Mal, via Pen and Sword Books.

Volume 1 deals with Destroyers, Frigates, Sloops, Escorts, Minesweepers, Submarines, Coastal Forces and Auxiliaries of the British and British Commonwealth fleets.

I have been fortunate to have access to a pre-publishing version of the book and I must admit, I can hardly wait for it to appear on the shelves. This version already has me checking the British and Commonwealth Warships I have at home waiting for paint.

The Second World War was where most of the world’s navies really started to use low visibility camouflage on their ships. This had been tried in the First World War, particularly the “dazzle” schemes of merchant vessels and later some US Navy vessels. The idea behind the earlier dazzle schemes was not so much to hide the vessel but rather to confuse U-Boats in particular on the vessels exact heading and speed. Whether this was actually effective or not is a matter of some conjecture and debate but there are a number of useful references on the World Wide Web to this.

By the time of the Second World War low visibility camouflage was being used on both the horizontal and vertical surfaces of ships to:

  • reduce visibility – trying to blend in with the sea and horizon
  • disguise the identity of ships (make big ships look smaller)
  • disguise the speed (false wakes designed to make the ships look like they are moving faster than they are)
  • or just confuse the viewer – either viewing at sea-level or from the air

To make the writing of a book like this even more difficult, whilst there were some “official” colour schemes and colour chips, what occurred in practice was a little different, with the vagaries of interpretation of the official instructions, the local availability of paint and so on governing what a vessel finally looked like.

There are 144 pages of diagrams in this book (and there are some example pages included here) with a total of 740 illustrations. In many cases, the paint scheme on a vessel may have changed several times throughout the course of the war, especially, for example, where a vessel may originally have been assigned to the Atlantic, then to the Indian and finally the Pacific Oceans. Mal attempts to cover as many of these as possible. He also discusses the changes in armament and electronics that affected the appearance of the vessel.

Rather than simply give an example of the colours of say, the P-class of destroyers, Mal gives two illustrations of HMS Petard (1942 and 1945 colours);  HMSs Porcupine and Panther. He follows this pattern throughout, giving several examples from each class and noting where there were significant changes to the appearance of ships through. As an example of diversity, the Q-class destroyers were originally a class of 8 destroyers built for the Royal Navy. Many were transferred to other navies. In Mal’s book he illustrates HMSs Quail; Quentin; Quilliam; HNMS Bankcert; HMASs Quickmatch; Quiberon; Quadrant; and HMS (later HMAS) Quality – all 8 vessels are illustrated.

The book starts with the old World War One destroyers still in service, then those built in the inter-war years leading into the World War 2 built destroyers. Mal covers all the ships and classes of vessels smaller than cruisers3. Mal even covers the coastal craft, trawlers, minesweepers and such that were such an important part of the war effort but often overlooked.

The best thing I have found about this book however

Four modified Flower-class corvettes from three navies
Four modified Flower-class corvettes from three navies

is that many of the schemes in there I have not seen before and I am sure that it would take me many hours of painstaking research to find them. I can also admit that I have never managed to catch Mal out yet (I thought I had with HMS Quality but reaslised that his illustration is the 1942 version whilst the official web-page for HMAS Quality shows the vessel probably in 1945 colours.

Now that I have had a chance to have a long look through the book, I can recommend it even more strongly than I did back on 7 March 2014 when I first recommended it.

It is available for pre-order (with appropriate discount) until, I guess, sometime in June. It’s release date is set for 30 June 2014.


Footnotes

1. Perhaps not painting the real ships but certainly painting models and maritime art works.
2. Mal relates that he remembers “one ex sailor laughing that HMAS Hobart arrived in Fremantle from the Mediterranean painted pink. In his story he said he thought it was because they had mixed undercoat into grey because they were short of paint, but as soon as the ship arrived in Sydney they painted it grey again. He had obviously never heard of the famous Mountbatten pink scheme and nor had I so I was unsure if he was just telling a tall tale. In later years I realised he what he had seen was a well used camouflage in the Mediterranean theatre of war up till late 1942”.
3. Cruisers, battleships, carriers and such will be covered in later volumes. I have seen some proof drawings of the odd battleship and can hardly wait for its appearance in print.

A Great New Naval Book — British and Commonwealth warship Camouflage

00 COVERWell, Volume 1 — Destroyers, Escorts, Submarines, Minesweepers, Trawlers, coastal craft etc rather than the full Royal and Commonwealth Navies in World War 2 (and some earlier).

My old mate Mal Wright, naval artist, wargamer and gentleman, has been working on some books. He has been researching naval camouflage (amongst other things) for many years. He was persuaded to write it all up in a book, and that project has grown. Now he has a publisher ready to publish. Hi book about Naval Camouflage of World War 2 is about to be released by Pen and Sword books, UK via Seaforth Publishing, in June/July this year. In fact, as Mal himself says, “it’s the result of a lifetime of research and so many years of preparation that I often thought I would never get it done at all!”

So, the first volume is complete now, and has well over 700 full colour illustrations. Again, in Mal’s words,

The idea is to enable Naval Wargamers, Researchers, and Modellers to have an easy reference source where they can look up ships by class, and find schemes to paint them. In some cases individual ships are shown at different periods of WW2. In addition to the paint schemes and description of them, there is a colour chart. The text discusses not only paint schemes, but such issues as changes in armament, electronics and general appearance. That makes it a quick reference to those issues too.

The book is called British and Commonwealth warship Camouflage (Volume 1. Destroyers, Escorts, Submarines, Minesweepers, Trawlers, coastal craft etc)

He is also working on a Volume 2 and Volume 3. Volume 2 will cover British and Commonwealth Battleships, Battlecruisers and Fleet Aircraft Carriers camouflage (and Mal has shown me some of the drawings from that — apart from being in awe of the man’s talent, I can hardly wait for this as I have many British and Commonwealth ships from the World War 2 Pacific and Indian Ocean fleets waiting for paint. That volume should be released in 2015. Volume 3 will cover British and Commonwealth Cruisers, Auxiliary Cruisers and Escort Carriers and follow on after Volume 2.

The illustrations Mal showed me for Volume 2 were of the British R-class battleships and he has, in some cases, 4, 5 or even 6 drawings of the one ship, charting the changes in its paint or camouflage scheme over the passing of years. Mal also noted that the publishers are offering a pre-publication discount. If anyone wishes to take advantage of this they will offer offer a 20% discount off the RRP price. 

To receive the pre release offer contact Mal at his email address mgwright@bigpond.net.au and let him know where you are as the publishers are trying to get folks pre-ordering grouped into locations. The publishers have been assured that anyone who provides their address to receive such a promotion can be assured it will only be used once for the promotion of his book and will not be given out to anyone else, or used again.

If you write to Mal to organise a pre-order – do say to him “Thomo sent me!” – it might earn me a glass of beer 😉

You can provide a street address if you want a hard copy of the promotional information, or an email address to receive a pdf.

You can checkout pre-ordering this Volume in the Pen and Sword Books Coming Soon section. There is  no cover picture there but the book is described at this link.

Publishers Piss Me Off – Amazon – this is you!

This is me on Amazon UK:

image

And from Amazon US:

image

Then, when I sign on as my mother:

image

Difference here is my Mum has an Australian address only. I have the same Australian address, a Singapore address and I had forgotten to remove my old UK address when I moved from there. So I can be living in Singapore (where apparently Amazon will not ship a Kindle to) but will let me buy hard copy books and deliver them to me (from either Amazon UK or US). I can be living in Australia which is part of the British publishing house sphere of business and again, I can buy hard copy books and have them delivered to me (from either Amazon UK or US). But try and buy a Kindle book from the UK with just an Australian address – problem. I can buy from Kindle US with just an Australian address unless it is a “restricted” title and not available in my area ((and how that works I will never know – Amazon sells me a Kindle to read books then refuses to sell me books)).

So, the solution? I leave my old UK address on file, leave my Australian or Singaporean credit card as the default payment card for “1-click” and suddenly I can buy Kindle books for Whispernet delivery from Amazon UK (and probably unrestricted from Amazon US but I am yet to try that).

Is this system screwed up? You bet (and don’t start me on protectionism of Australian publishers – that’s another disgrace)!