Book Review
USN DD vs IJN Submarine
USN Fleet Destroyer vs IJN Fleet Submarine The Pacific 1941-42
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Japanese submarines launched torpedoes inside of Pearl Harbor during the air attack, sank two US aircraft carriers, knocked another carrier and a modern battleship out of action for months, and fired the war's most productive torpedo spread. US destroyers were very effective against U-Boats in the First World War but a generation later failed to protect their charges from Japan's subs. This book examines why.

What makes modelers what to build a model of something? For me it is a 50/50 split of 'that looks cool' and wanting a representation of some thing I read about. This book gives me both.

USN Fleet Destroyer vs IJN Fleet Submarine The Pacific 1941-42 from Osprey Publishing LTD is the 90th title of their series Duel. Authored by naval expert Mark Stille and illustrated by artist Paul Wright, the book is catalogued with Osprey's short code DUE 90, and IBSN 9781472820631. Eighty pages long, this softcover book is also available in PDF and ePUB formats.

Osprey says of their book:

    Leading up to the Pacific War, Japanese naval strategists believed that a decisive fleet engagement would be fought against the United States Navy. Outnumbered by the USN, the Imperial Japanese Navy planned to use its large, ocean-going submarines to chip away at its opponent before the grand battle. In order to accomplish this, the IJN's submarine force was tasked to perform extended reconnaissance of the USN's battle fleet, even in port, and then shadow and attack it.

    For their part, the USN was fully aware of the potential threat posed by Japanese submarines, and destroyer crews were trained and equipped with modern anti-submarine weapons and tactics to screen the battle fleet.

    Challenging the assumption that Japanese submarines were ineffective during the Pacific War, this fully illustrated study examines their encounters with the US Navy, and the successes and failures of American destroyers in protecting their capital ships.

If destroyers are the mixed martial arts fighters of the sea, perhaps subs are the ninjas. But did they fulfill their intended purpose?

USN Fleet Destroyer vs IJN Fleet Submarine is 80 pages of content told through 11 chapters and sections;
    Design and Development
    The Strategic Situation
    Technical Specifications
    The Combatants
    Statistics and Analysis

Mr. Stille explores the history of the tactical doctrines of the Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine force and the United States Navy (USN) destroyer force. In Design and Development and Technical Specifications we learn about the deployed forces and their effectiveness. Weapons and powerplants, weapons training and detection equipment is presented to the reader. Other countries tried putting aircraft on submarines but only Japan made extensive use of them. Japan also obsessed with midget submarines.

The author describes the different designs and classes of IJN subs and US destroyers. Progression of design is detailed. These two chapters account for 31 pages. The Strategic Situation only takes two pages of text. Japan's small sub fleet was spread far and wide. The US Navy and Allies in the Pacific were in bad shape. Then came wo carrier battles and the Guadalcanal campaign.

The vessels are described by classes, 13 Japanese Types, 10 US destroyers:
    Type KRS
    Type J1
    Type J1M
    Type J2
    Type J3
    Type KD3A/Type KD3B
    Type KD4
    Type KD5
    Type KD6A/Type KD4B
    Type KD7
    Type A1
    Type B1
    Type C1
A short section examines the weapons the vessels were armed with.

The Combatants discusses the doctrine and tactics of each force through five pages.

Twenty-two pages of Combat recounts those vessels at war. Eleven operations are explained:
    The Hawaiian Operation
    Early 1942
      Attack on Saratoga
      Operations in Diverse Areas
    Debacle At Midway
      The Exploits of I-168
    Ordeal At Guadalcanal
      The Death of Wasp
      and Chester
      The End of the Campaign
Until this book I never understood how bad USN ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) performance was, and how much worse it could have been. I-19 shot perhaps the most incredible spread of torpedoes in history, significantly crippling USN power just before the Battle of Santa Cruz. I-168 performed brilliantly while USN ASW performance was pitiful.

The book concludes with explaining the proceeding foibles and fortes through seven pages of Statistics and Analysis. It discusses why the two forces were not more successful in their intended roles, and whether either side could have done better. Challenged are long-standing perceptions about the effectiveness of Japan's submarine arm. Ultimately, a very interesting book.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
A fine gallery of images supports the text. Some of the art and photos should be a bonanza to modelers. Many of the photos have been widely published although there are what I consider specialist images, too. Included are photos inside of Japanese submarines, which I presume to be fairly rare.

Artist Paul Wright created original artwork, accompanied with descriptive captions, for the book:
    1. I-26: Type B1 aircraft carrying fleet sub, in profile and planform.

    2. I-16: Type C1 aircraft carrying fleet sub, carrying Type A midget sub, in profile and planform.

    3. Worden: Farragut-class as appearing in late-1942, in profile and planform.

    4. Fanning: Mahan-class as appearing in late-1942, in profile and planform.

    5. IJN Submarine Armament:
      a. 21in Type 95 Torpedo
      b. E14Y1 "Glen" submarine floatplane
      c. 5.5in/40 deck gun
    6. USN Destroyer Armament:
      a. Mark 6 depth charge
      b. Mark 6 Depth Charge Projector
      c. 5in/38 dual-purpose gun
    7. Centerfold I-168 attack on the Yorktown.

    8. Centerfold I-19's salvo of torpedoes connect five miles past USS Wasp.

    i. Each sub and destroyer class is described with a table of appropriate specifications:
      Units in class
      Armament as completed
      Operating Depth

    ii. Call out box: IJN Submarine Force Organization, December 7, 1941; five fleets and naval districts.

    iii. Principle IJN submarine torpedoes: Type 89; Type 95.

    iv. IJN submarines deck guns: 5.5in/40 11th Year Type; 4.7in/45 11th Year Type; 3.9in/50 Type 88.

    v. USN early-war depth charges: Mark 6; Mark 7.

    vi. Japanese submarine successes against USN carriers 1941-42.

    vii. IJN submarine losses 1941-42.

IJN submarine operations in the Pacific, 1941-42: keyed to 7 submarine deployments around Hawaii, and 6 submarine attacks through 1942.

Plenty of source material for modelers in the gallery of this book.

Since the war, early-war Japanese submarine performance has had mixed reviews. Osprey's concise exploration USN Fleet Destroyer vs IJN Fleet Submarine The Pacific 1941-42 brings more information to consider. It is an interesting treatise that sheds light on the successes and failures of those warships. The technical descriptions are useful, as is the look at doctrine and tactics, explained through detailed text, with an impressive gallery of photos and artwork to support it. Modelers should be interested in the color illustrations of weapons and ships.

I do not have anything to complain about and recommend this book to modelers and historians interested in Japanese submarines, USN ASW, and the first year of the Pacific War.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Model Shipwrights.
Highs: Detailed text with an impressive gallery of photos and artwork to support it.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: A useful book for modelers and historians interested in Japanese submarines, USN ASW, and the first year of the Pacific War.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: DUE 90 ISBN 978147
  PUBLISHED: Apr 11, 2019
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

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 Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. 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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