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Book Review
U.S. Submarines 1941-45

by: Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

U.S. Submarines 1941-45

New Vanguard, 118
7.25 x 9.75 inches
48 pages
42 black and white photographs
7 color plates
$15.95 U.S.
Release date-10 February 2006

Osprey Publishing brings to light an all-too-important time in history with this new addition to their New Vanguard series of books. 7 December 1941, a date known to all, literally changed U.S. Naval warfare as we knew it at the time, with a greater focus on the submarine. With clear, well explained text and great photographs (although in black and white), the reader will experience a better understanding of the history of the submarine in the U.S. during this time frame, and the inner workings of such.


1. Design and Development
2. Equipment

1. Periscopes
2. Sonar
3. Radars
4. Communication
5. Maintenance

The Boat
1. Forward battery
2. Control room
3. Conning tower
4. After battery
5. Forward and after engine room
6. Manuevering room
7. After torpedo room
8. Tanks

1. Weilding the weapon
2. Tactics
3. The contact phase
4. The approach phase
5. The evasion phase

Operational history



Color plate


my opinion
Forty-eight pages is not a lot of space for a subject as diverse and important as this, but the New Vanguard series of books from Osprey Publishing are designed to condense as much pertinent information with supporting illustrations, photo’s, chart’s and table’s to form an all around useful reference tool for the reader. And in this case, for us, the modeler, these pages will help us to understand more about our subjects history and operation.
Easy to read and understand, the book moves along through the early history, design and development of the early U.S. submarine and it’s operation. This book also gives the reader some insight into the boats onboard equipment, such as the weapons systems, radar/sonar systems, communications, etc. Next an examination of the boat’s internal layout and structure is covered, complete with close-up photo’s of the instruments and panels.

A discussion of weapons operations (torpedoes) and battle tactics follows, broken down into the proper phases for ease of understanding.

The Operational History section gives a concise and condensed explanation and listing of the boats lost, with a chart that lists the boats full name, date of loss, and number of men aboard.
Plenty of quality black and white photographs grace the pages throughout, along with charts and tables of technical information, class designation, and strength force.

The full color illustration plates located near the center of the volume are excellent and accurate, covering early submarine evolution, such as side views of the S Class, V-4 Argonaut, and the Perch Class. There is also a great color plate showing the four paint schemes used for the U.S. Submarines of WWII, Measure 9, 10, 32/3SSB and 32/9SSB. A really cool two page cut-away style illustration of the Balao Class Sub with numbered descriptions grace the center of the book, followed by reduced silhouettes and weaponry examples, all in full color.

author and illustrator…
This book was written by Jim Christley, who retired from the U.S. Navy in 1982 as a Senior Chief Petty Officer, who served on seven submarines throughout his career ranging from diesel to ballistic missile boats. Tony Bryan, a freelance illustrator, was initially qualified as an engineer and worked for Military Research and Development. He has produced illustrations for partworks, magazines and books, including a number of volumes in the New Vanguard series.

final thoughts and conclusions

Overall, this new addition to the New Vanguard line of books from Osprey Publications delivers to the reader good , clear, information about the U.S. submarines in the time frame covered. Although there are larger volumes written of the subject, this book touches a lot of different subject examples with basic explanations for a better understanding of the early submarine history in the U.S. Navy.

From a modeling perspective, although the photo’s are in black and white there is still valuable reference to be found in them, and the color plates are quite helpful also.

The text information within is also a valuable point of reference for modeling subjects in this era. If you’re looking for a decent little volume of basic reference material of the U.S. submarine in the early years of development, then this book should be on your shelf.

Recommended from this modelers point of view.

Many thanks to Sheeba Madan, Osprey Publishing, New York for providing this early review sample.

Keep Modeling!
Although not a comprehensive volume of U.S. Submarines of this era, this new release from Osprey Publishing does a good job of covering all the basics of these maidens of the deep, with a great deal of clear photo’s, colorful illustration and supporting text.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 1841768596
  Suggested Retail: $15.95 U.S.
  Related Link: Osprey Publishing Oficial Website
  PUBLISHED: Jan 16, 2006
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...

Copyright ©2020 text by Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]. 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.


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Click image to enlarge
  • Osprey-US Submarines 1941-45
  • Osprey-US Submarines 1941-45
  • Osprey-US Submarines 1941-45
    Three different types of sails, weaponry and a torpedo cutaway
  • Osprey-US Submarines 1941-45
    double page cutaway balao class fleet boat
  • Osprey-US Submarines 1941-45