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Book Review
Leyte Gulf 1944

by: Rui Matos [ SKIPPER ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights


The biggest sea battle of all times is actually composed of four main sub-battles, if I may call them this way. Mr. Bernard Ireland was able to condense and make a very interesting reading, and the marvellous paintings by Mr Howard Gerrard with all those dramatic views make this a great helper for anyone interested in learning a little bit, and understand how it happens, and how it started!


Here is the table of contents :

Opposing Commanders
- US Commanders
- Japanese Commanders
Opposing Forces
- US Naval Forces in the Western Pacific
- Japanese Naval Forces
- Japanese Land-Based Air Power in the Philippines
Opposing Strategies
- US Operational Command Structure and Plan
- Japanese SHO-1 Plan
Action and Reaction
Further Reading

my feelings about it…

Everybody who like twentieth century warfare history, and particularly those more interested in World War II, know General Douglas MacArthur promise ”I Shall Return!”.
The cover of this book is the famous photograph of General MacArthur paying his promise, taken when he landed in Leyte. This may look strange for the cover of a book that describes the biggest sea battle of all times, but once you read the Introduction, it get’s clear!
The growing importance and power of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the role model that the Royal Navy played, the immense sea area that the Pacific Ocean is and all the issues that a long distance fighting will bring, the Washington Naval Treaty and the three phase Plan Orange developed by the US justify the cover photo!

The Chronology is made in a simple and concise way, very similar to a ship log; no emotion, no stories. Just stick to facts and relevant events.

Mr. Bernard start to show his skills on the description of Opposing Commanders where he is able to condense the necessary information about the intervenient on both sides; almost a psychological profile on each commander, experience and background, pros and cons.
A nice succinct introduction type, that will show the results in future chapters.

The description of the forces involved on each side, detailed to some acceptable point (Fleet, Task Force, Task Units – for the US Navy; Combined Fleet and its component Forces, for the IJN, always accompanied by the Commanding Officer in charge), and with the inclusion of some scarce events and notes, start to add more interest and emotion.

So far, we have the Background History, the intervenient and their forces, and now it’s time for the analysis of the different Opposing Strategies.
I must say that Mr. Bernard Ireland made it in an easy way of giving us all the necessary parts and bits, almost like a model, to understand this complex battle.
We have the model, glue, tools and paint! Let’s have some action!!

All the above mentioned chapters were written in a almost Telegraphic way, but in this “Action and Reaction” chapter the writing is “full speed ahead”!
It is written and described in a way, which almost looks like a Movie Script! Once you get here, you just can’t stop reading it!

You’ll have insights of briefings, actions, feelings on attacking “soft targets” (Us merchant shipping) by the majority of Japanese officers – this is a delicious detail, and the book as several that really give an added value to it!
I will not describe the rest of the chapter, but I only will say that it is well written and accurate as far as my knowledge goes!

As usual with Osprey Publishing, black and white pictures populate the book and in this case, also some Colour pictures. Colour maps in 2D with the ship movements and actions (Engagements, Sinking and Collisions) appear in conjunction with the written text, making a helpful and easy way of seeing the “written words”. In a couple of situations 3D maps (Northern Landings, Leyte 20 October 1944 – 1000 & The Battle Off Samar, 25 October 1944 – 0820-0850) are presented as a double page feature and they are a very good representation of the events!

But for me the greatest surprises in this book are the extraordinary paintings by Mr. Howard Gerrard, full of action, very dramatic and accurate in details, presented in a double page, with a key on a third page with the inclusion of a smaller representation of the painting and description of events portrayed. Truly exquisite paintings that, if Osprey Publishing accepts a humble suggestion, could be presented in only one page, landscape format. Why? Because if one wants to fully enjoy the painting you will have to spread open the book, and this may cause damage to it (and I treasure my books!). Another option could be a fold out page, but I guess this would make the final product more expensive…

The book ends with the Conclusion, Appendix with the Warships destroyed (from Battleships to Destroyer/Destroyer Escorts, only) which could be more detailed until smaller classes, Index and Further Readings.
Actually Index is the last item, but I choose to end it with Further Readings because even here in a single page, Mr. Bernard Ireland, shows how humble he is, and also is sense of humour.


I would recommend this book as a reference for anyone interested in Warships and Naval Warfare and of course World War II.
This is a happy coincidence, since we are about to start (ok, only in October!) a Warship Campaign called… Leyte Gulf
Although not very modelling oriented, you will understand the battles, you will know which vessels (at least all the big ones and some smaller classes) participated in which battles, and could serve as a motivation for some more modelling projects.
A good value for the money.

Many thanks Mrs Ruth Gulpine and Osprey Publishing for the sample provided.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA

full book details

Osprey Publishing – Campaign Series number 163
“Leyte Gulf 1944” - The world’s biggest greatest sea battle
Text by Bernard Ireland
Illustrations by Howard Gerrard
96 pages - usual format
ISBN: 1-84176-978-9

Osprey seems to have a perfect aligned mind set with our Warship Campaigns.Here is another book tuned with our October Campaign - Leyte Gulf!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 1841769789
  Suggested Retail: £13.99
  Related Link: Osprey
  PUBLISHED: Mar 22, 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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Click image to enlarge
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 01
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 03
    Sample page - text and BW photo
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 07
    Sample page - Map and battle movements
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 05
    Sample page - Another approach for our understanding of the events
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 04
    Sample page - Double paged extraordinary art (see my comments to this kind of pages)
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 06
    Description of the double page art by Howard Gerrard
  • Osprey Publishing - Campaign Series - Leyte Gulf 1944 02
    Back cover with some graphical examples of the contents