by: Adie Roberts [ ]
Submarines have a long history in the United States, beginning with Turtle, during the American Revolution. The world’s first combat submarine, invented by David Bushnell, was devised as a means of breaking the British blockade of Boston Harbour but was unsuccessful on multiple attempts. The U.S. Navy officially joined the undersea world when it purchased USS Holland (SS-1) on 11 April 1900, and commissioned her on 12 October 1900. The boat, designed by John P. Holland, proved valuable for experimental purposes during her 10-year career.
Although submarines did not play a large part for the U.S. during World War I, submarines such as USS K-5 (Submarine No. 36), one of the first U.S. diesel-electric submarines, deployed to the Azores patrolling for German submarines. World War II was when the submarine force became the workhorse of the U.S. Navy. Assessments indicated that U.S. submarines sank 540,192 tons of Japanese naval vessels, and 4,779,902 tons of merchant shipping during the war, accounting for 54.6 per cent of all Japanese vessel losses.
Preface - 5
Acknowledgements - 6
Notes to the Reader - 7
The Early Years - 9
Second World War - 69
Cold War Diesel-Electric Submarines - 133
Cold War Nuclear-Powered Submarines - 177
Post-Cold War Submarines - 225
Bibliography - 234
Author Michael Green, born in 1952 is an acclaimed writer and author of numerous Images of War books series including Armour in Vietnam, US Navy Aircraft Carriers, US Battleships, The Patton Tank, US Naval Aviation, American Infantry Weapons, MI Abrams Tank and Combat Aircraft of the USAF. He resides in California.
Like all of the Images of War books, this is a picture heavy book from publishers Pen & Sword Something I love especially when the pictures evoke scenes that I could use in a diorama. The book takes you through the history of submarines in the US Navy, the first commissioned Submarines that the US Navy purchased was the Holland VI in April 1900 and after a series of successful tests designated the submarine the USS Holland in October 1900.
The Second World War saw the greatest improvements in submarines in the United States with the Salmon and Sargo-class fleet submarines turned out to be very popular with the US Navy submarine community and they confirmed that the decision to settle on a Submarine class of approximately 1,500-ton displacement was the correct choice. In 1935, the Cachalot (V8) as an experiment received an air-conditioning system. Tests conducted off the coast Panama, Surprise, surprise, quickly proved that the crew efficiency significantly increased! The Cachalot Class itself came about in June 1928 at the Submariners, Officers, conference endorsed the idea of using the German Navy's U-135 as a model from which a new class of fleet submarines (the Cachlot Class) should derive. Besides making the life of the submariners more bearable in warm tropical water, air conditioning acted as a dehumidifier in controlling the amount of moisture in the air within submarines, which in turn considerably lessened the chances of the onboard electrical being affected.
The next progressively-improved fleet submarines after the Tambor class and more commonly known by modellers is the Gato Class with seventy-seven examples of the Gato class. The first was commissioned in November 1941 and assigned the name Drum (SS-228). The lead ship of the class, Gato (SS-212) from which the class received its name was not commissioned until the very end of December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Incidentally, the last Gato-class submarine to be commissioned was the aptly named Croaker (SS-246) in April 1944.
The book continues in the same fashion in the way it is written from beginning to end and has some very cleverly written facts some of which have a small amount of humour to them as well as being fascinating and factual. (I am sure you have to have a sense of humour to be a submariner during the war). There are hundreds of pictures in this book, some of which I am sure have not been in the public domain, these allow you to understand the pressures of the task which were fraught with dangers and harsh conditions, as well as a sense of freedom to be able to go under the sea and surface in various locations from the tropics to the Arctic.
The author goes through all the separate different classes, of the various submarines that have been in use with the US Navy, I did not realise that there were so many different classes of submarines in the world let alone just the US Navy. The book covers from the first submarine through to the modern-day Virginia-class attack submarine. The book is picture heavy and all of the pictures either, photograph or artwork all of them have captions, which give all the details of what is happening in the pictures. The captions do cover everything that appears in front of you, one of those pictures that caught my eyes was a Gupy IIA boat the Stickleback (SS-415) on the 29th May 1958 met its end when a US Navy destroyer escort nearly cut it in half during a training exercise.
Another interesting fact from the book was the LTV-N-2 Loon guided missile, two of the US Navy's Balao class submarines were fitted with the missile, in the immediate post-war era was an American-built and modified copy of the famous German V-1 rocket nicknamed the 'buzz bomb' by the British. The US Navy cancelled the Loon programme in 1950. A further picture shows the sad fate of many wartime submarines surplus to the post of the post-war US Navy's needs was to be sunk as a target. From the periscope of a post-war designed and built diesel-electric submarine, we see the moment one of its torpedoes strikes the Devilfish (SS-292) a Balao-class submarine, in August 1968 off the coast of Northern California.
There is a real lot of information to digest from this book by Pen & Sword and it is with the use of the numerous pictures contained within the book, very easy to take in. For the Images of War series of books this is quite possibly the largest pagination wise the biggest with a total of 233 pages. For someone with an interest of Submarines I am sure they will enjoy it, and certainly learn numerous things that I just took for granted before sitting down and reading this book, if you’re a keen modeller and have the Revell Gato Class Submarine 85-0396 which has the option for one of the Gato classes mentioned in the book and in the review here USS Drum SS-228 so plenty of reference pictures for you to be able to use in your build of it. I did very much enjoy reading the book.
Adie Roberts takes a look at an Images of War title from Pen and Sword titled United States Navy Submarines 1900-2019.
Copyright ©2020 text by Adie Roberts [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.
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