Osprey's IJN Antisubmarine Escorts 1941-45


Mark Stille, illustrated by Paul Wright


Osprey Publishing


$18.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 48 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1816-4

Japan made a number of mistakes and errors in judgment when making the decision to foment the Pacific War. They assumed that the Allies would sue for peace after getting badly beat up in the first six months of the war. They also thought that there would be a 'king of all battles where the IJN would succeed in sinking most of the US Navy. They also did not pay attention to the effects of submarine warfare; either that of WWI or what had been going on in the Atlantic in 1940 and 1941.

This meant that the Japanese, who realied heavily on maritime trade, were not equipped to fight American submarines. The did not have the ships, those ships did not have the speed, and those ships did not have the equipment to properly protect their merchant fleet.

Prior to the war, what served as escorts were obsolescent destroyers which were ill equipped for proper ASW operations and convoy escort. The sailors were not trained for ASW work and Japan had never developed procedures for fighting submarines. Japanese submariners were not aggressive and made no real effort to attack shipping.

What this meant was that Japan spent the war playing catch-up, but what they produced was not only inadequate, but when there were semi-decent numbers available, the merchant fleet had already been nearly decimated. They were grossly unsuccessful regarding sinking US submarines and spent much of their service acting as rescue ships, picking up survivors of sinkings.

Not a pretty picture, but such is history. This does not mean that the IJN did not try to develop escort ships, as they did and were able to launch quite a few in the last two years of the war, but as mentioned, it was too little and too late.

This book covers all of the various classes of ships built as escorts. Though each new class was based somewhat on the previous one, there were differences in design, propulsion and equipment. This is all covered in pretty good detail. Each main entry includes some photos of these ships as well as a table that provides basic information on the ship's construction and fate. All of this is superbly illustrated with both period photos and some great artwork. It is the sort of subject that few enthusiasts consider, but these ships were an important part of the war effort. The book is both interesting to read and offers a lot of information. Well worth picking up.

July 2017

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