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Book Review
US Submarines, 1941-45

by: Rui Matos [ SKIPPER ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


These are some of the most important vessels that sailed in the Pacific Theather, with a highly effective and deadly accuracy. This little book, is abble to gather very relevant information in very few pages.
This must have been a very hard task, since it is very easy to write hundreds of pages with the description of the submarines, missions and packing them with photos, diagrams, maps and colour profiles.
Let's see what the authors were capable of!

Whats inside?

Here is the table of contents:
Design and Development
- Weapons
- Periscopes
- Sonar
- Radars
- Communication
- Maintenance

The Boat
- Forward battery
- Control room
- Conning tower
- After battery
- Forward and after engine room
- Maneuvering room
- After torpedo room
- Tanks

- Wielding the weapon
- Tactics
- The contact phase
- The approach phase
- The attack phase
- The evasion phase

Operational history



Color Plate Commentary


My feelings about it

Jim Christley starts with the new vision of the most powerfull weapons on a fleet would be in the 1940’s! Yes you guessed it: Aircraft Carriers and Submarines.
Then the genesys of these kind of weapon and the early developments of an Fleet boat need. He starts descibing what was needed and all the technical problems that were overcome to solve this new kind of weapon. Another very interesting detail is the explanation of some submarine “jargon” (pardon the excess of the word – but it applies) on the “EB boat” and the “Portsmounth boat”. This ID followed from the thirties until late sixties, with the Guppy convertions and sails – and is a very important characteristic if you are going to model one particular submarine and want to do it right.

Evolution on the design continues until we reach the base of this book – the Balao Class Fleet Boat.
Description of the Weaponry and equipment is made, with some detail; for instance, the problem with early war torpedoes is mentioned – every sub buff have seen “The Duke” telling this!
Periscope, deck guns, Communications systems, the lot! For those who never have been aboard one of this submarines (and not only Gato/Balao class) that think that this is just a steel cigar that travels under the sea, the description make you think different. It is one of the more complex war machines that were ever made.
Another important feature of this book is the writen and graphic explantion of the Measures it used (or if you want, the painting scheme) – this is a good modeling tip and source. To help date this particular information, dates of active period of each one are given in the Colour Plates description – nice touch!.

Now that we know what kind of vessel we have, what are their weapons, propulsion, communications systems, what period we are in, we are taken in a ship tour with decent descriptions, remainding me of the tour I took in USS Pampanito.

The last half of the book is used to describe the several engagement phases, with some episodes to spice it a little. This helps understanding the modus operandi of the fleet boats, very different from the best know submarine force of WWII – the German Wolfpack during the Paukenschlag, or Happy Days.
With these brief, but highly effective descriptions with the help of some graphics, a further much more detailed reading can be easily understood. I am mentioning Theodore Roscoe “US Submarine Operations in WWII” (read more in the end).
The submarines accomplished 55% of all Japanese shipping losses.


Another good small book, that have it’s limitations because of the format. We have here a good subject and lots of information that Mr. Jim Christley was abble to condense well, showing the relevant points and even adds some curiosities without getting “off course”.
Outstanding work of art by Tony Bryan – I think I am getting hooked on his paintings! – add the colour needed in this book.
A good value for the money.

I would like to add some more Suggested Readings, appart from the ones mentioned in the Bibliography, that I think are pertinent and helpful, historically and modeling speaking. Some of these books are excellent and accurate accounts and descriptions, other are more graphical and lightsided, but have their importance too.
In no particular order:
“United States Submarine Operations in World War II”
By Theodore Roscoe, designed and illustrated by Fred Freeman
Naval Institute Press
ISBN: 0-87021-731-3

The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy - A design and construction history
By John D.Alden
Naval Institute Press
ISBN: 0-87021-187-0

Warship’s Data Special – Fleet Submarines of World War Two
By Thomas F. Walkowiak
The Floating Drydock – A Pictorial Histories Publication
ISBN: 0-933126-72-7

U.S. Subs in action
By Robert C.Stern illustrated by Don Greer
Squadron / Signal Publications
ISBN: 0-889747-085-0

USS Pampanito – A submarine and her crew
By Carl Nolte
San Francisco Maritime National Park Association
ISBN: 0-9714550-0-7

Many thanks Mrs Ruth Gulpine and Osprey Publishing for the sample provided.
Now I am in my turf and this book is a good starter and also a good teaser, for more learning and to get some simple base of this type of vessels.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 1841768596
  Suggested Retail: US$14.95
  Related Link: Osprey Publishing
  PUBLISHED: Feb 06, 2006
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Rui Matos (skipper)

Hi all Crew Members!
Rui Matos, 39 years old (in 2006), married, former Portuguese Navy Fire Control Radar Operator , and "owned" by two cats - James, Stripes (Riscas in portuguese, now deceased) and Moon (Lua)!
I've been modeling since I was 6, but only have turned to Submarines in 1991 o...

Copyright ©2020 text by Rui Matos [ SKIPPER ]. 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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