While most people know of the Gray Wolves and the story of the U-Boat packs, not many know of the war waged by the Axis by the midget submarines. Osprey's latest book can correct that fact. Axis Midget Submarines covers just what the title says, midget submarines from Italy, Germany and Japan.
Each section follows a similar format. First, the history and countries doctrine of war are covered. Next, there is a section covering the development and types of midget subs used. The war time service record is then covered and also their prototypes and concept ideas. Each part is then summarized by an analysis and conclusion for each type.
Lets take a look at Germany's section. It starts up with a discussion of Germanys late entry in the midget submarine war and its initial conversion of torpedoes into midget subs such as the Neger and Marder classes. I know that Verlinden issued a Neger class midget sub model that is still available. The text is supplemented by superb pictures of both classes and a comparison of the two. The war time use of these two types is discussed including their use at Anzio and Normandy. Surprise- they sunk 8 ships! Reading through the rest, it becomes apparent that these had some success but at a very high loss rate.
The next section covers the Hecht, Molch, Seehund and Biber models with the same emphasis on the reason they were built, their war records. For example, the Seehund series sunk 120,000 tons of shipping. Their is a discussion of plans for future types. Finally, there is an analysis of Germanys midget sub program and its failure due to a late entry and non-commitment.
This book has great shots for modelers also. As far as kits, the Seehund is represented by Revell of Germany in 1/72 scale and Verlinden in 1/35 scale. The Molch is also represented in both scales also a well as the Biber. The Japanese have two FineMolds kits of the Kaiten. Italeri makes a great kit of the Maile. So there are lots of options out there foe the modeler and this book covers all models.
This is an excellent book and well illustrated with a great sense of history. I recommend it to all fans of the submarine and especially midget subs. it is also very reasonably priced.
My thanks to Osprey and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.