Osprey's USN Battleship vs IJN Battleship

Author:

Mark Stille

Publisher/Distributor

Osprey Publishing

Price

$20.00 MSRP

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1719-8

Prior to WWII, the overall naval planning of the major powers was centered around the big gun ship; battleships. It was also realized that these things were the F-35 of the day and were stupidly expensive to develop, build, man, and maintain. So there were treaties developed that would limit not only the size of naval vessels, but also the number that could be built and kept in service by various nations. Top of the list were battleships.

In the Pacific, the Japanese pretty well had the best navy. This was in spite of the treaty requirements as the Japanese fudged things a bit. Indeed, the first battleship to carry 16 inch naval rifles was the Japanese ship Nagato. Other nations followed suit. As ships were limited by tonnage, there was a lot of fudging around as to how best to build what they felt was needed and still stay within the limits.

Warships are by their very nature a trade off of protection, firepower, and speed. A lot of protection means more weight and less speed. Bigger guns also means more weight and less speed. More speed means smaller guns and/or less armor protection. One way around this was to protect only the really valuable parts of the ship (magazines, engine rooms, etc) and leave the rest to chance. Both the US and Japanese followed this theory to some extent both before and during the treaty time. After the Japanese pulled out of the treaty in the late 1930s, all that went out the window and we see things like the USS Missouri and the Yamato.

However, during the Pacific War, it was the first year, for the most part, that saw the greatest amount of action. Few, however, realize that battleship to battleship action was quite rare. In fact, there were only two occasions that this occurred. One was Guadalcanal in 1942 where the Kirishima, a ship from 1915, though modernized, faced two very modern US ships, the Washington and South Dakota. The other was the Battle of Surigao Strait in 1944 when two WWI era Japanese ships, the Fuso and Yamashiro faced six US battleships in the last big gun duel.

The author covers the development of battleships on both the US and Japanese side as well as modifications done to the ships and the equipment they carried. It also covers the difference in crew training as well the men who commanded these ships in battle. The meat of the book covers the two battles in which the participants engaged each other. It makes for an interesting and insightful read and one that I know you will enjoy.

December 2017

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