Imperial Japanese Navy Antisubmarine Escorts 1941-45

Published: August 11th, 2017     
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Cover
Author: Mark Stille; Illustrator: Paul Wright
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-1816-4
Other Publication Information: Soft Bound ; 7.2” x 9.8”, 48 pages Epub & Ebook formats available
Price: $18.00
Product / Stock #: New Vanguard 248

Mark E. Stille (Commander, United States Navy, retired) received his BA in History from the University of Maryland and also holds an MA from the Naval War College. He has worked in the intelligence community for 35 years including tours on the faculty of the Naval War College, on the Joint Staff and on US Navy ships. He is currently a senior intelligence analyst working in the Washington DC area. He is the author of at least two dozen Osprey titles in the New Vanguard, Duel, and Campaign series, primarily focusing on naval history in the Pacific.

Paul Wright, born in N. Wales in 1947 has worked as a free-lance maritime and landscape artist since 1969. He has been teaching since 1974, starting out at the West Surrey Institute in Art and Design, and is currently a senior lecturer at Kingston University Illustration Course. His paintings are in private and corporate collections all over the world, including Dallas Texas. Paul Wright has also worked in animated feature films such as A Christmas Carol, Wargame, and Second Star on the Left. His cartoon strip, Ratman, has appeared in the Times Newspapers weekend edition. Paul Wright currently lives and works in Surrey.

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) placed little importance on dedicated anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. The IJN strategic emphasis was on decisive battles early in the war; thus dedicated ASW ships had no role. IJN first line destroyers carried almost no depth charges at all, and the few ASW escorts that were available only carried 12 to 18 depth charges. The lack of equipment was further complicated by poor tactics in responding to any attacks by US submarines. The IJN strategy saw no need to change early in the war as the US submarine fleet's torpedoes were horribly ineffective. That changed in mid-1943 and the Japanese were completely unprepared. The IJN responded in November of 1943 by ordering newly dedicated ASW ships, but their arrival in 1944 was too little, too late. Ultimately, the IJN ASW ships proved to be most effective at rescuing the sailors of the ships they were supposed to protect.

This 48-page book contains two color paintings by Paul Wright along with a substantial description. The first painting is of Torpedo Boat IJN Hiyadori versus USS Amberjack which is also featured on the front cover. The second Paul Wright painting depicts Task Force 38 Avengers attacking a tanker while CD-35, an IJN Type C escort, tries in vain to fight back against the TBM Avengers. CD-35 took three bombs and ended up on the seafloor. I counted 21 tables, 40 black and white pictures. Paul Wright also contributes twelve color profiles along with a keyed cutaway color illustration of an IJN Number 1 Class (Type C) ASW Escort.

Mark Stille provides a revealing look at the evolution of the IJN ASW capabilities that occurred during World War II. The introduction covers the IJN ASW strategy, tactics, ship design, and weapons. A significant weakness for the ASW ships was the lack of capable depth charges. US Submarines could go down to 400 feet, but the IJN depth charge maximum setting was 295 feet. Complicating the IJN use of depth charges was the rather basic nature of their ASW sensors. The 'meat' of the book is a description of the individual ASW classes. Each class description includes a section on 'Design and Construction', a table detailing the individual ships and units they served with, 'Armament and Modifications', 'War Service', and a table of the class specifications. Most of the classes are also represented with color profiles.

The sections include:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
    • Japanese Naval Strategy and the Low Priority of ASW
    • Japanese ASW Tactics
    • Japanese ASW Escort Design Principles
    • Japanese ASW Escort Weapons and Sensors [Page 9]
    • IJN Depth Charges (Table)
  • The ASW Escort Classes
    • Momi Class
    • Wakatake Class [Page 15]
    • Tomozuru Class
    • Otori Class
    • Shimushu Class
    • Etorofu Class [Page 25]
    • Mikura Class
    • Ukuru Class [Page 33]
    • Number 1 Escort Class (Type C)
    • Number 2 Escort Class (Type D)
  • Analysis and Conclusion [Page 46]
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I found interesting one of the few successes by an IJN ASW ship against a US submarine and it accompanied by the Paul Wright cover painting, "Hiyodori versus Amberjack". This incident occurred off of Cape St. George when the USS Amberjack was spotted by aircraft of the 958th Air Group. IJN Hiyodori and a submarine chaser, CH-18, pursued the USS Amberjack, dropping a combined 18 depth charges. Forty minutes after engaging, the IJN Hiyodori recovered a life raft from the USS Amberjack. The Hiyodori was later sunk by the USS Gunnel off of Taiwan.

All of the above Escort Classes are covered in 1/700 scale. Finding them in 1/350 scale is a bit more difficult. There are kits available for the Otori and Ukuru classes in 1/350, but I was not able to find any of the other ship classes. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

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