There are a number of books available describing the battleships that served during WWII. Some are very general. The most famous battleship reference may be Breyer's Battleships and Battle Cruisers 1905-1970 which first appeared in the 70's and played a large part in founding the "modern" approach to ship references. It covers a history of battleships in general, then catalogs all the dreadnoughts that entered service. The major downside is its age; we now have more accurate books. All the World's Battleships by Sturton will give you general stats and some exterior views, more accurate than Breyer but not very detailed. A new edition came out recently; I can't tell you if it's nothing more than a rehash dressed in new pictures or if it's actually a step forward. Battleships of the World by Greger is comparable but not as well organized. Battleships of World War Two by Whitley is probably the handiest and best-organized of these. The drawings are poor, but otherwise it's a good overall view of the subject. For American battleships, there's the creatively titled US Battleships by Friedman, who has written authoritatively on almost every type of American warship. He describes the process by which designers made their decisions, so there's no substitute. The usual complaints are that Friedman tends to meander, and his style is drier than dust. He also has few armor schematics, and he describes the design process more than the designs themselves. A superb complement is the American volume by Garzke & Dulin. They give a little on the design process but go into great details on the design's ultimate configuration. They also cover the ship's history including matters that illustrate the design qualities. They have detailed armor schematics, which are somewhat spoiled by a bizarre labeling system. The biggest downside is that G&D covers only the modern battleships. G&D are responsible for a three-book Battleship set--one for the Americans, one for Allied ships, and one for Axis and neutral designs. They're all excellent, and the Allied and Axis volumes are better than the US volume (which came first) without the bizarre labeling. Again, only the modern designs are included. British battleships are treated to a pair of fine books, British Battleships of World War Two by Raven & Roberts and British Battleships 1919-1939 by Burt. (By now you're getting the impression that no one's going out of his way to come up with interesting titles.) The R&R is very detailed and continues to be the standard despite its age. The organization is not as clean as I'd like. Burt is much better in that regard, and he has more armor schematics. However, he completely ignores Vanguard. He quotes more official reports than R&R but in general does not cover to the same depth. He has two other volumes covering earlier periods. French battleships are fairly well covered in French books, but there's very little in the English language. Fear not, a new book on the modern French battleships is due out this year. The authors are Dumas & Jordan, and the title will be French Battleships or something like that. You're sunk when it comes for an English-language book on Italian battleships. The standard now is Le navi di linea italiane by Giorgerini & Nani. On a happier note, Russian and Soviet battleships are well covered in McLaughlin's book Russian and Soviet Battleships. There are a ridiculous number of books on German ships, and I don't know why. German Capital Ships of World War Two by Whitley is probably the best design history, and it has the bonus of including the armored ships and aircraft carriers. Koop & Schmolke have individual volumes on the Bismarck and Scharnhorst classes (and the pocket battleships, for that matter). For some reason, Japanese battleships are not well covered. There is not currently any volume analogous to R&R, K&S, or Whitley.