Casemate Publishing

"Royal Navy & Maritime Book Reviews" PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

Books by Casemate Publishing Reviewed in 2011


F4U Corsair
295 x 210mm, 264, 362 photos, 23 drawings, 53pp scale plans, 18pp col. profiles
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Adam Jarski
ISBN: 9788372371621
Publishers: AJ Press ( Casemate 2010)
Price: £35
Publication Date: 1st Dec 2010
 

Publisher's Title Information

Highly illustrated history of the F4U Corsair, the bane of the Japanese during World War II

An extraordinary comprehensive monograph of one of the most well-known American aircraft. The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II, with some Japanese pilots declaring it the most formidable fighter of the war. It quickly gained the reputation for being the most capable fighter-bomber in production, and was also used by the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

It contains the history of its design and development, as well as very detailed and numerous plans for modellers. Succesive chapters describe camouflage and markings of the planes on duty in USA, Great Britain, New Zealand and other countries. The books also includes detailed coverage of the service history of this aircraft. The whole book is illustrated with a great number of photos and colour plates showing Corsair camouflages. As usual the technical description is included.

About Aircraft Monograph This series is published entirely in English presents the most popular, most interesting and the best aircraft design of the 20th century. Every monograph describes particular airplanes in a complex way - it contains a history of its development, its historical background and manufacturing history, combat use, camouflage and markings and a detailed technical description. Complemented by hundreds of historical photographs illustrating the subject, plans in modelling scales, and colour profiles depicting the airframes of different times and units, Aircraft Monographs are a rich source of knowledge, not only for readers interested in aviation history, but also for modellers. The Monografie Lotnicze series is the counterpart of the Aircraft Monograph - these are the books in Polish, in most cases featuring the picture captions in English.

From “Development”

The history of aviation knows relatively few cases were an aeroplane relegated to the role of a "backup" at the moment of its birth, survived its favoured counterpart by some 10 years. This was the story of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair which remained in service much longer than its brilliant competitor, Grumman F6F Hellcat. The Corsair was controversial from the outset, but that is the usual fate of designs that are innovative ahead of their times. Some pilots thought the world of the aeroplane, others believed it was the worst machine of the war in terms of flying characteristics.

Even before the selection of the carrier-borne aeroplane in the tender joined by the Grumman XF4F-2 and the Brewster XF2A-I, already on 1 February 1938 the US Navy sent out its specifications for a very high performance carrier-borne single-seat fighter, a future replacement of the current bid winner. Vought design office, headed at the time by Rex Beisel, considered several concepts of the fighter, which eventually boiled down to two projects: V-166A and V-166B. The former would be powered by the 897 kW' (1,200 bhp 1,217 mhp) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp. The other version, preferred by the designers, would be powered by the prototype Pratt & Whitney XR-2800-2 Double Wasp 18-cylinder, air-cooled twin radial, which at the time had an output of 1,350 kW (1,805 bhp 1,830 mhp). The engine development programme forecasted the ultimate performance of 1,495 kW (2,000 bhp 2,028 mhp) after a year of research and development. Both projects Were shown to the US Navy representatives on 8 April 1938. It was not clear at the time when the new Double Wasp would reach production, hence the two versions of the fighter on offer. The company intended to achieve two goals: keep the order should the US Navy reject the unproven engine, and force Navy officials to go ahead with the research and development of the new, extremely promising engine. Calculated performance of the second project was very good, prompting the US Navy to accept it. Accordingto the specifications of the Bureau of Aeronautics as handed to the company on 10 May 1938 it was planned that the aeroplane would be armed with two 0.3 in. machine guns in the fuselage (with 500 rounds per gun) and two 0.5 in. M 2 machine guns in wings (with 200 rounds per gun), with an option to replace the wing-mounted guns with the Danish 23 mm Madsen guns, then en vogue with the US Navy. It was also planned that the aeroplane would be able to carry a total of almost 176 lb (80 kg) bombs in bomb bays inside wings.

The Cosair and The Royal Navy

In early 1943 the Royal Navy purchased F4U aircraft intending to operate them from aircraft carriers. The first 95 machines were in the F4U-1 standard and were known in Britain as the Corsair I. Pilots of British units intended to operate the type were trained in the USA. The machines, together with the flying crew, were brought to Britain on escort carriers. The first of these squadrons (no. 1830) achieved operational capability on 1 June 1943. F4U fighters eventually equipped 19 squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm. The F4U-1 with the raised cockpit hood was known in Britain as the Corsair II, 510 of these fighters being ordered. Mk I and Mk II aircraft were also modified to carry a 170 US gal. drop tank under the wing centre section. Starting from the 361st MkII aircraft another 170 US gal. tank was carried under the starboard wing (in place of a bomb), and from the 441st aircraft Corsair II fighters carried a 137 imp. gal. (623 1) fuel tank under each wing. At the same time the wing leading edge tanks were abandoned. Thus the last 150 Corsair Rs were equivalent of the US F4U-1D version without the leading edge tanks, but they failed to obtain a separate version designation in the Royal Navy. Since the hangar decks of British carriers were lower than American, wing tips of the Corsairs (starting with the Mk II version) were clipped by 16 in., to enable the fighters to fit in the hangars with their wings folded.

Under Lend Lease Act the British naval aviation took delivery of 2,012 Corsairs: 95 F4U-ls, 510 F4U-lAs, 430 F3A-ls (known as the Corsair III in the Royal Navy) and 997 FG-1s (Corsair IV). Corsairs were also delivered to New Zealand. Royal NZ Air Force used F4U fighters from land bases only. Between May 1944 and the end of that year twelve RNZAF squadrons re-equipped with F4Us, and a thirteenth in 1945. A total of 425 of these fighters were delivered from the USA to New Zealand 233 F4U-lAs, 131 F4U-1Ds and 61 FG-IDs.

Rob Jerrard
For more Information go to Casemate Website:

F4U Corsair


Steel Boat, Iron Hearts
A U-boat Crewman's Life Aboard U-505
Edition: Paperback 2011
Format: Paperback
Authors: Hans Goebeler & John P. Vanzo
ISBN: 9781932714319
Publishers: casemate, ( Savas Beatie)
Price: £11.99
Publication Date: 15th May 2011
 

Publisher's Title Information

Included a special Introduction by Keith Gill, Curator of U-505, Museum of Science and Industry.
What life was like in the German Navy under Hitler, and how the Americans disabled and boarded the U-505.
 
Hans Goebeler is known to history as the man who “pulled the plug” on U-505 on June 4, 1944, due to his efforts to keep his beloved U-boat out of the hands of the Allied Task Group 22.3. Steel Boat, Iron Hearts is his no-holds-barred account of his life aboard a frontline combat U-boat.
 
Using his own experiences, log-books, and correspondence with other members of the Kriegsmarine, Goebeler offers rich and very personal details about what life was like in the German Navy under Hitler. Because Hans's first posting was to U-505, and he served throughout its career until its capture in June 1944, his perspective of the crew, its various commanders, dozen war patrols, and varied experiences paints a vivid and complete portrait unlike any other to come out of the Kriegsmarine.
 
In 1944, when the chances of surviving a U-boat patrol were slim indeed, U-505 left Lorient for a combat patrol in the west central Atlantic. During its return to France the boat was discovered by Daniel Gallery's Task Group 22.3. Trapped by a hunter-killer group, the boat was depth-charged to the surface, strafed by machine gun fire, and eventually boarded and captured by the American Navy. Salvage crews managed to keep the damaged submarine above water long enough to tow it to Bermuda. U-505's crew, meanwhile, was kept in isolation and had no knowledge that their boat was captured.
 
Steel Boat, Iron Hearts was originally published as a paperback for private distribution. This revised and expanded edition includes a foreword letter to Hans from Axel-Olaf Loewe, the boat's beloved first commander, corrected and revised text and additional photographs, many of them previously unpublished.

The Authors

Hans Jacob Goebeler was born in Bottendorf, Germany, on November 9, 1923. At the age of 17, he joined the Navy and served as control room mate aboard U-505.
Years later, Goebeler moved his family to the United States to be close to his beloved boat and began penning his wartime memoir. Hans passed away in 1999.

John P. Vanzo is a former defence program analyst from Bradenton, Florida. He has a Ph.D. in International Relations and currently teaches political science and geography courses at Bainbridge College in Bainbridge, Georgia.

Review

U-505 a type IXC U-boat was built by Deutsche Werft and launched 24 May 1941. She is the only Type IXC still in existence. Fifty four Type IXCs were built. The main difference was an increased fuel capacity. She was depth charged from the US Carrier Guadalcanal and the escort ships Chatelain, Jenks and Pillsbury and captured. She is now a museum ship at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

Hans Goebeler the crew member who wrote this account moved with his wife to Chicago to be near the Boat. He conducted many reunions, German submarine veterans and crew members of the ships that participated in the capture attended. Goebeler died in 1999 before his book was published but his collaborator, John Vanzo, a professor of political science and geography at Bainbridge College in Bainbridge, completed it.
 
Reading this you certainly get a taste of what conditions were like on German boats like the U-505 which were not true submarines but really a "submersible" designed more as a surface ship capable of submerging for several hours when necessary. Hans Goebeler's gives a fascinating account of what life aboard a German U-Boat.
 
There is also a good account of the capture in “Second U-Boat Flotilla” by Lawrence Paterson, Published by Pen & Sword 2003.
 
If you have an interest in German U-boats this is one worth adding to your library.
 
Rob Jerrard

For more Information go to Casemate Website:

Steel Boat, Iron Heart


America's First Clash With Iran
The Tanker War 1987-88
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Lee Allen Zatarain
ISBN: 9781935149361
Publishers: Casemate
Price: £13.99
Publication Date: Dec 15th 2010
 

Publisher's Title Information

Draws on recently released Pentagon documents and first hand interviews
 
“This book is well paced, factual... and is a really good read, especially for those unfamiliar with the 'war' in the first place.” - Scale Military Modeller International, June 2009
 
“A detailed and exciting account of incidents in the 1987-8 tanker war in the Gulf.” -The Naval Review, November 2008
 
In May 1987 the US guided missile frigate Stark, sailing the waters of the Persian Gulf, was suddenly blown apart by an Exocet missile fired by a MiG of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. A fifth of the ship's crew were killed and many others wounded. This event jump-started one of the most mysterious conflicts in American history, the Tanker War, which was waged for control of the Middle East's oil supply, and was carried out in the shadow of the Iran-Iraq War.
 
Losing on the battlefield, Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran had decided to close the Persian Gulf against shipments from Iraq, and especially from their oil-rich backers, the emirate of Kuwait. The Kuwaitis appealed for international help to protect their tankers, and the Soviet Union was first to respond. This prompted America to react and send their own fleet to the Gulf, raising the Stars and Stripes over Kuwait's commercial tankers. The result was a free-for-all, as the Iranians laid mines throughout the passage and launched their torpedo attacks.
 
The Tanker War was the US Navy's largest surface battle since World War II.

Reviews to date

A detailed and exciting account of incidents in the 1987-8 tanker war in the Gulf. THE NAVAL REVIEW, 1/11/2008
This book is well paced, factual and does an excellent job of describing the tension aboard the US ships and helicopter/air crews and is a really good read, especially for those unfamiliar with the 'war' in the first place. SCALE MILITARY MODELLER INTERNATIONAL, 1/6/2009

Review

The first impression when picking up this book, is the sheer volume of information, supported by sketches. The centre section contains a number of actual black and white photos of the vessels and personnel. Anyone thirsting for the maximum detail of the period under the spotlight will not be disappointed. It is packed with information, sometimes excessively so, covering the politics, the global impact, and the tiniest minutia of life on board the various naval vessels that are suddenly thrust into a scary war. It is a situation involving missiles, mines, and gun boats, that was the Tanker War. It occurred towards the end of the bigger Iran-Iraq war that ran for eight years. The author has managed brilliantly to keep up the pace of a very readable book, whilst relaying a mass of quite technical detail necessary to explain short comings and limitations of missiles and the target vessels. One issue with the narrative is that continuity is hampered by the author's need for constant detailed background and analysis. A casual reader might be struck by the ease with which a sophisticated weapon can be rendered impotent by incorrect settings or fooled by decoys as with the Silkworm missile. The research the author was able to use included information from recently released Pentagon papers. For the technically minded, or just the plainly curious reader, the various chapters are peppered with intriguing facts, sometimes oddball ones, such as the phantom radio prankster who tried hard to aggravate both sides via the airwaves, in the midst of combat conditions..

A major decision in 1987 by the USA to agree to the re flagging of Kuwaiti tankers and VLCC's under the American flag, led to a direct clash with the Iranian forces, and this is analysed vividly in this book.

What becomes clear to the reader seeking an overall picture is that almost a by product of the U.S. clash with Iran , and with Iraq, was the complete overhaul and thorough inward searching that the military were forced to undertake after the terrible strikes on the USS Sark where 37 crew members were killed - many incinerated in their bunks. A chapter is rightly devoted to this major incident. Everything was later re-evaluated, and the Captain and Officers inevitably paid the price with their careers, for what was arguably a system failure. Lack of readiness was the major culprit, and lessons were learned the hard way.

Although primarily a Gulf conflict, the shock-waves easily went worldwide, as the dependence on oil supplies from the Gulf were at stake, and the missiles in use were from China ( Silkworms) and France (Exocets), among others. The complexity of the civil, military, and international sensitivities as shown in this book are bewildering, and a nightmare for diplomats charged with the task of getting international relations back to normal.

Some of the incidents featured in the book are laboured, it has to be said, and it is hard not to conclude that they are somewhat slanted, which is a pity. A more balanced approach to the narrative would have shown dividends. The chapters are also jargon-ridden, and the ' stand alone ' subject matter of each chapter denies any flow to the overall book. These comments aside, it is a very readable account, which sheds considerable light and insight on what the public were fed at the time.

Altogether there are 23 chapters and end notes with appropriate references - plus an index. The last chapters deal exhaustively with the terrible downing of Iran Air 655 by the USS Vincennes, and the loss of over 300 innocent civilians. The choice of chapter headings gives a clue to what is actually portrayed so excellently, namely a series of often unrelated incidents, rather than an actual war. Both sides stopped short of that, for obvious reasons.

Alan Rawlinson


Yorktown, Enterprise, Hornet Vol. I
Edition: - Polish/English
Format: Paperback - 223 b/w photos, 12 colour photos, 42 drawings, 12 pages with 3D graphics, insert (A1 format) with 1:350 scale plans
Author: Andrzej Perepeczko
ISBN: 9788372372123
Publishers: AJ Press
Price: £27.50
Publication Date: 1st Dec 2010

Publisher's Title Information
 
Fully illustrated history of the early wartime service of America's key WWII aircraft carriers.

The newer books of this series are fully bilingual - Polish/English. The older ones contain English captions for the illustrations.

The Yorktown-class aircraft carriers consisted of three carriers, Yorktown, Enterprise, and Hornet, built by the U.S. and completed shortly before World War II. They bore the brunt of early action in the Pacific, and sole survivor Yorktown went on to become the most decorated ship in the history of the U.S. Navy. This first volume of this Yorktown-class aircraft carrier monograph includes the history of this class of warships and their service through to the Pacific War. This volume includes a technical description illustrated by many drawings, photos and 3D graphics. Extensive content is also dedicated to the aircraft based on this class of aircraft carriers, including their schemes in 1:100 scale.
 
About Encyclopaedia of Warships The series covering the most distinguished and interesting warships of the 20th century. The books describe the development and service history of individual ships or entire classes, starting with initial design requirements and ending with crossing off from fleet roster or destroying. The development chapter focuses on the history of the ship starting with the designing phase, through her construction to all the modernizations and refits carried out. The ships' service is described in the form of a timeline. Special focus is on the notable events like the naval battles. The technical descriptions contain hull structure, armament, propulsion system and consecutive modernizations. The books are illustrated with multiple photographs, maps, tables and detailed plans printed on large formats. Most of the publications contain A1 format insets with plans, camouflaging schemes and - in case of the newer releases - also 3D graphics.


U-Boat War 1939-1945
Edition: 7071
Format: Paperback, 9 colour plates, 172 photos
Author: Ian Baxter
ISBN: 9789623611756,
Publishers: Casemate: Concord Armor at War Series
Price: £12.99
Publication Date: 15th Jan 2011
 

Publisher's Title Information

A new portrait of the German Kriegsmarine and their craft
 
This new book from Ian Baxter delves into an important topic surrounding World War II, one that breaks new ground for Concord Publications. The focus is U-boats (untersee-boot, or “undersea boat”) and their campaign against Allied shipping during the course of WWII. Germany constructed an impressive 1171 U-boats in the war years. Such was the significance of this deadly battle for the seas that the Allies lost more than 50,000 seamen and 15 million tons of shipping from 1939-45. Indeed, particularly early on in the war, German submarines created a stranglehold on the Atlantic that starved Great Britain of much-needed supplies. However, as the tide turned, submariners found they had become the hunted, with 319 U-boats sunk between June 1944 and May 1945 alone. Nearly 40,000 German submariners lost their lives in this desperate battle. This volume traces the development of the U-boat as a strategic weapon in Germany's arsenal. The book begins with a written description of the tactics employed and how their effectiveness ebbed and flowed as the war progressed. However, the backbone of this work is the many black-and-white photos of U-boats and their crewmen. These contemporary photos show German Navy submarines in port and at sea, as well as various details of their construction. The crewmen are also a focus of the photography, offering readers a study of their typical uniforms and appearance. The book includes colour plates showing various U-boat types and provides an invaluable insight into this naval aspect of WWII, and the superb collection of photographs aided by detailed captions will greatly increase the knowledge of readers. For enthusiasts seeking wider coverage of this early-war period, “Early Panzer Victories” is a handy reference. Well written and well-presented, this work offers many new photos for readers to study and examine.

Introduction

The Western Allies regarded the U-boat war as one of the biggest perils of World War Two. It is said that Britain nearly lost the fight in the North Atlantic, and during the course of five years of bitter conflict, she and her allies lost more than 50,000 seamen and 15 million tons of shipping.

Yet at the beginning of the war in September 1939, Germany had been morally unprepared for a naval war against the Allies. From the mid-1930s, the German Navy had been constructing cheap, mass-produced submarines or U-boats, untersee-boot, which translates as "undersea boat"). These vessels were largely manned by civilian volunteers and were trained to conduct the war at sea in what became known in 1941 as the Battle of the Atlantic. Each crew member was aware of the significance of the war against the Allies.

They knew these vessels were primarily designed to blockade the British Isles and to prevent British-controlled merchant shipping from reaching its shores. By undertaking this they knew they would have to sink as much shipping as possible with the least risk to their own fleet. If they could sink the merchant ships at a rate faster than the British could replace them with new ships, they would be able to decisively change the course of the war on the high seas, and force Britain to lay down its arms and withdraw from the war.

However, in spite of this grand strategy against the British-controlled merchant fleet, the U-boats failed to sink enough enemy vessels between 1939 and 1941 to overtly affect the British war effort. The German Navy quickly realized it did not have enough U-boats suitable for this major task. In two years of war it sank 1125 ships totaling some 5.3 million tons. However, the British Commonwealth soon made good these losses and set about constructing many more ships to replace those lost at sea. Much of the new shipping during this period came from the United States. The U-boats were thus hard pressed to provide any serious threat to enemy shipping, and it was for this sole reason that the German Navy quickly increased the number of U-boats being constructed.

After the fall of France in 1940, the U-boat arm had a better tactical advantage and no longer did its vessels have to risk the heavily patrolled routes north of Scotland to reach the Atlantic. Here, along the shores of France, a number of U-boat bases were established at Brest, Lorient, La Pallice, Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Bordeaux. These new heavily protected submarine bases with huge impregnable concrete bunkers enabled U-boats to remain in their primary hunting grounds for much longer periods. The first vessel to make use of the new French bases was U-30 when it called at Lorient on 7 July 1940 to resupply and arm with more torpedoes.

Between early July and November 1940, U-boats operated extensively from the new French bases and caused havoc to enemy merchant shipping. Over this period of time, some 282 ships (1,490,000 tons) were sent to the bottom of the sea with only seven U-boats lost. The losses were a complete blow to Britain's war effort, although the U-boat terror was about to change forever. On 7 May 1941, U-110 was depth-charged in an attack and the crew was forced to surface. A Royal Navy (RN) team was quickly sent aboard before the submarine sank, and they rescued confidential books and papers, codebooks and an Enigma code machine with a message ready to be sent. The find was an immense step forward for the British and the intelligence they gained ensured they would soon have a major advantage against U-boats. However, it was still going to be a drawn-out, bitter and costly battle.

When the USA entered the war in December 1941, the German Navy increased its attacks and threw its U-boat force at the Americans for about eight months. In January 1942, a small group of Type IXC U-boats was identified operating off the eastern coast of the USA, and another seven Type VIICs of Gruppe Zeithen operating off Newfoundland. Initially, the U -boats operated quite fearlessly in US coastal waters due to the fact there were almost no anti-submarine patrols, which made it possible for U-boat crews to attack even on the surface and in daylight. The U-boats were able to operate for many weeks off the coast of the USA, being resupplied and refueled by huge submarine tankers nicknamed 'milk cows'.

Between January and June 1942, some 567 ships totaling 3 million tons were sunk at a cost of only 21 U-boats. As losses against merchant shipping escalated, the Allies tried their best by employing various countermeasures against the U-boats. Losses amongst U-boats steadily grew, but instead of withdrawing eastward, much of the force moved its campaign south into the Caribbean. U-boats also began operating against South American oil refineries and destroyed a number of installations and various merchant vessels.

Whilst a number of U-boats, mainly of IXC and VIIC types, continued operating off the coast of the USA and in the Caribbean, the new Wolfpack Group tactic in the North Atlantic was increasing. Here in the deep, cold and turbulent waters of the North Atlantic, U-boats had been formed into fast-moving hunting packs able to cover large areas of ocean suspected to be merchant shipping routes. These wolf packs were decisive to the U-boat arm winning the war at sea. The first wolf pack was formed in September 1941, and within a year of it commencing operations, some 1.8 million tons of merchant shipping had been sunk for the loss of 40 U-boats.

While wolf packs were operating in the North Atlantic, U-boats in the Mediterranean had been prowling these dangerous waters against the RN since September 1941. Operations there were considered most hazardous by German crews. They dreaded navigating through the British-controlled Straits of Gibraltar. U-boat crews tried their utmost at all times to pass through the straits undetected. In total, 62 U-boats operated in the Mediterranean although none would ever make it back through the straits into the Atlantic. All of them were either sunk whilst operating against enemy shipping, or simply scuttled by their crews.

Even in the Atlantic the U-boat campaign began to be seriously affected by growing enemy opposition. By 1943, improved technology began taking its toll on the U-boats. The new secret Ultra intelligence provided much information to the Allies, giving them knowledge of movements, refueling and rendezvous with U-boat tankers. By June 1943, the Allied naval coding system began changing the course of operations in the North Atlantic. The arrival of escort carriers protecting Allied shipping and an increase in aerial attacks also had a diverse effect on surface ships supplying U-boats. As a direct consequence, supply lines quickly became overstretched and operations in distant waters were significantly curtailed.

With the amount of tonnage sunk severely reduced, U-boat commanders were often required to use much riskier tactics that frequently ended in high losses. In May 1943 alone, some 41 U-boats were lost. The following month another 17 were sunk, and in August a further 25. Over the next few months, the U-boats struggled against ever-increasing resistance. By March 1944, the problem had become so bad that even wolf pack tactics were abandoned.

In order to counter huge losses and advances in Allied technology, Walther and Elektro U-boats were introduced into service. These Type XXI and Type XXIII submarines constituted a great advancement in U-boat technology. However, they entered the war far too late to pose any real threat to the Allied war effort. Consequently, they waged a war of attrition in the open seas, and as they were sparsely supported, many of them were lost.

Between June 1944 and May 1945, 319 U-boats were sunk. Almost 40,000 U-boat men were killed. In total 1,171 U-boats had been officially commissioned for war from 1939-45. Out of this total, 846 had no success or saw no action. Almost 3,000 merchant and naval vessels (14,915,000 tons) were sunk by U-boats during the course of the war. What makes the U-boat war more amazing is that 800 of these ships were sunk by just 30 pf the most successful U-boat commanders.


Warriors and Wizards
The Development and Defeat of Radio Controlled Glide Bombs of the Third Reich
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
50 Photographs
Author: Martin J. Bollinger
ISBN: 9781591140672
Publishers: Naval Institute Press
Price: £24.99
Publication Date: 15th Oct 2010

Publisher's Title Information

The amazing history of a new and important technology which helped to turn the tides of war.
 
In August 1943, the Luftwaffe began using radio-controlled anti-ship glide bombs. These proved very effective, sinking one battleship, crippling another, wrecking two cruisers and destroying numerous merchant ships within just a few weeks. However, a year later the Germans were forced to abandon their use, defeated by scientists who developed electronic systems to jam the radio links that guided the bombs.
 
Drawing on a wealth of new sources, Martin Bollinger examines what happened from both a historical and technological perspective and lays out a mission-by-mission analysis of effectiveness. Based on interviews with participants, intelligence documents, and archival records in four countries, his book chronicles the yearlong battle between the Allied seamen (the warriors) and the scientists (the wizards) for a story of courage, technical achievement, and sacrifice.
 

About the Author

Martin J. Bollinger has been a management consultant in the aerospace and defence industry for more than twenty-five years. A resident of Baltimore, MD, he is also the author of Stalin's Slave Ships, 'Stalin's Slave Ships Kolyma, the Gulag Fleet, and the Role of the West.'

Introduction

"WELLSIAN WEAPONS from MARS"

It was not easy in World War II for an aircraft to sink a warship. In our day of brilliant munitions, satellite-based navigation, and weapons calibrated in megatons, such difficulties may be hard to fathom. However, let us take ourselves back to 1943 for a moment and imagine the travails of a military tactician attempting to use an aircraft to destroy invading enemy warships or supply convoys.
First, the weapon of any such aircraft has to be delivered to the target, at a time when that target is typically maneuvering at high speed. A bomb dropped from a great height, say above twenty thousand feet, might take forty seconds or more to fall to the water's surface; in that time, a warship moving twenty-five knots has advanced a half a kilometer (about a third of a mile) from where it was when the bomb was dropped. If nothing else is done to maneuver the bomb, it will miss. Clearly, the pilot can attempt to anticipate the ship's motion and adjust the aim, but the fact is that ships have rudders, and those rudders are prone to be employed urgently, heavily, and unpredictably when the ship is taking evasive action.
Air-launched torpedoes are not much better in that the target, assuming it knows it is under attack (hence the value of stealthy submarines over noisy aircraft), inevitably will adjust course in much the same way. Two of the most notable raids in World War II by torpedo bombers against battleshipsby the British at Taranto and by the Japanese at Pearl Harboravoided this difficulty by attacking moored ships or ships at anchor.
One logical response is to engage the target from low altitude and at short distances in order to minimize the time between bomb release and impact. The problem is that aircraft in close proximity to warships, including torpedo bombers, can easily be engaged by the full armament of those warships, making the aircraft especially vulnerable. As pilots were fond of saying, "If the ship is within range, so are we."
An alternative, used with impressive results in World War II, is to deploy dive-bombers that approach the target at a high altitude and then drop vertically to the surface, releasing bombs at low altitude then pulling awayassuming they have survived the journey thus fat In this way the pilot can adjust aim until just before the bomb is released. One problem is that these aircraft, and thus their weapons, are necessarily limited in size due to the heavy g-forces encountered in the pull-up. As a result it takes large numbers of them to successfully engage heavily armored targets such as battleships. This fact is well demonstrated by the annihilation of battleships Prince of Wales, Repulse, Hiei, Yamato, and Musashi. In each case, it took dozens of aerial bombs and torpedoes to effect destruction, weapons that were often delivered in orchestrated attacks in which dive-bombers and fighters suppressed the antiaircraft defenses long enough for torpedo bombers to deliver fatal blows. (Aircraft carriers, which in most cases did not have armored decks in World War II, were especially vulnerable to dive-bombers, even when attacked by relatively small numbers of aircraft.)
The reality, then, is that with conventional unguided bombs aircrews (1) must approach the target closely to minimize time for evasion, or (2) successfully anticipate the movement of the ship and aim accordingly, or (3) attack in such numbers as to simply overwhelm the ship and provide it with no path of escape. The common element behind these complications is the assumption that, once dropped, a bomb is a dumb ballistic object, subject only to the command of Sir Isaac Newton.
The Japanese attempted to address this problem in the latter stages of World War II by providing smart human guidance all the way to the target, in what Americans called kamikaze missions. Such missions caused significant devastation, but complicated things for the attacker since an aircraft with a bomb is easier to target and shoot down than the much smaller bomb itself. Relatively few kamikaze missions were successful, in part due to aggressive ship defenses.' Moreover, in most cultures the supply of pilots willing to perform these missions is typically scarce and the number of successful missions per pilotor for that matter failed attempts per pilotis necessarily limited to one. It is a questionable strategy in general, and a foolish one in particular for any prolonged war of attrition.
The Luftwaffe (German air force) in World War II came up with a different solution, one based on advanced technology. This approach involved radio-controlled guidance that allowed a distant bomb aimer to adjust course as he watched his bomb glide into its target, steering the weapon left or right and up or down until it hit dead on. Introduced in mid-1943, these "glide bombs" were the wonder weapons of the era, causing shock and awe among sailors of Allied navies. That they have largely been forgotten reflects the fact that they were eclipsed by the late arrival in the war of two other wonder weapons more properly associated not with World War II but with any future world war: ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.
For a period of almost exactly one year, these German glide bombs, _ described by a contemporary witness on board a ship during an attack as "resembling some Wellsian weapon from Mars," terrorized naval and merchant sailors. The weapons exploded suddenly onto the scene in August 1943 and drove frantic efforts by the unprepared Allies to devise an adequate defense. In the space of two months, a battleship was sunk with 1,254 sailors blown to bits or incinerated, while a few days later another battleship was crippled and nearly sunk. In that same period two light cruisers were virtually wrecked, and several other warships were sunk or severely damaged. One horribly successful mission led to the greatest loss of life of U.S. service members on board any single ship at sea across all the wars the United States has ever fought.' That specific incident remains generally unknown even to this day.
Yet the threat of these German innovations vanished almost as suddenly as it appeared, and the wonder weapons of autumn 1943 were largely discarded. after summer 1944, just a year later. A- small cadre of historians argues to this day about the cause for the eventual abandonment of the technology. Some, especially those in Germany, appropriately highlight the rise in Allied airpower over the European theater and the futility of German bombers attempting to close on high-value ships when surrounded by large numbers of Allied fighters. Others suggest sabotage played a role, believing that large numbers of the weapons were rendered ineffective by the intentional acts of forced labor or resistance workers. Still others blame the decline in training of Luftwaffe pilots: the veterans of early missions too often challenged the laws of chance with fatal consequences and were replaced by less-well-trained novices.
Many historians, somewhat likely to have been on the side of the Allies, point to another reason. In rapid response to the new German wonder weapons, the technical wizards in Allied laboratories came up with some of their own: electronic countermeasures that in early versions jammed the radio links between aircraft and glide bomb and that in later versions allowed an operator on board ship to take control of the bomb and steer it away from its target. These countermeasures arose from the brilliance of Allied science; also, they were informed through the efforts of the Allied intelligence services, including agents working for the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and analysts in the British Government Code and Cipher School (GCCS) in Bletchley Park. Thus the introduction of these revolutionary guided anti-ship weapons spurred another revolution, that of guided-missile electronic countermeasures. The electromagnetic interplay of these two technologies continues to this day, more than six decades later.
It is this interaction of Luftwaffe pilots, Allied sailors, scientists on both sides, and Allied intelligence that forms this story. It is a chronicle that has never been told in full. And while much has been written on this subject, the scholarship of that material is unfortunately mixed, often within the same tome. Other authors have endeavored to tell the tale from the vantage of pilots, sailors, scientists, or spies, but never from all four communities simultaneously. And it is in that interchange between the communities that the story can truly be found.
One should not be too hard on these earlier chroniclers, for several reasons. First, archives are incomplete. For example, the BundesarchivMilitararchiv holdings of Luftwaffe operational records for the bomber units in question are particularly sparse.4 Second, some critical documents in the United States, classified "Secret" in the years after World War II, were not declassified until so requested by this author and thus have not seen the full light of day until now Third, even years after the fact, we remain victims of wartime news orchestration: ships very possibly struck with radio-controlled glide bombs were said in official reports to have been torpedoed or to have hit mines, in hopes of avoiding panic among anxious sailors.' As later reported by famed wartime correspondent "Beachhead Don" Whitehead, "Censorship prevented disclosure of the full effectiveness of this weapon until Winston Churchill announced its use at Salerno. Again, at Anzio, correspondents with the landing forces were forbidden to say the Germans were using rocket bombs against shipping. A directive said no mention was to be made of the glider projectiles."6
Paradoxically, as the years have passed, one senses it has become increasingly fashionable by survivors of these battles to link ship losses to these wonder weapons rather than to more prosaic torpedoes and bombs, even if the evidence is underwhelming. Other simple challenges confound the historian. For example, before the community had settled on a vernacular, the term "aerial torpedo" was used by some in Britain as shorthand for glide bombs, confusing the situation: conventional torpedoes launched by aircraft are quite accurately called the same thing.
Yet while records in any single domain are incomplete, there remains abundant information in discrete parcels, which, if packaged, can provide useful insight into exactly what happened between August 1943 and August 1944, and why. The available Luftwaffe reports can help inform occasionally unreliable naval recordsand vice versa. An analysis of the effectiveness of glide bombs prepared by the Luftwaffe in mid-1944 is particularly helpful in supplying raw data, even if its findings are sorely lacking.' The history of wartime intelligence operations, especially the Allied success in cracking German and Japanese codes, turns out to shed important light on otherwise uncertain events and yields a few surprises of its own. Finally, the accounts of the technical wizards, toiling away in both missile research center and radio laboratory, fill in many of the missing pieces.
We are fortunate to have extensive firsthand information on this conflict from warriors and wizards, both in the form of personal accounts (published and unpublished) written by those who participated and in the form of direct contact with the survivors undertaken in preparation of this book. Their personal accounts help close many of the knowledge gaps in this obscure part of World War II.
The detailed technical information available on both missiles and (at least now) jammers, allows for useful analysis of their interplay according to the rules of the electromagnetic spectrum; this in itself informs and bounds what was reported in real time in the interplay of pilot and sailor at sea. In this book, for the first time, the actual workings and limitations of German guidance systems and Allied countermeasures are evaluated based on modern understanding of the theory and practice of electronic warfare. This analysis reveals that a phenomenon at the time under appreciated by both sides multipath interferencemay explain much of what occurred in the interplay of German and Allied scientists in this wizard war.
In the end, one must not be too intrigued by the scientific advances of the era and lose sight of their application. While this is a chronicle of technical achievementon both sidesit is also the story of warriors drowning in darkened ships or burning in pools of flaming fuel oil. The number of sailors and passengers killed by these weapons approaches four thousand. Some of those lost have been hidden to history until now equally, this is the story of brave pilots struggling to escape their blazing and spiraling aircraft, or nurturing a crippled bomber over uninviting seas, hoping to reach distant land before the engines quit. The attrition rate for aircrews assigned to Luftwaffe bomber missions in World War 11 approached 90 per cents. In their honor and memory it is important that the story be told in full.
It becomes clear as one unravels the story that this interplay of "wizards and warriors" continues to this day. As we honor the memory of those who struggled and perished in World War II, we also recognize the sacrifice of modern soldiers on modern battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq. A primary cause of these modem casualties is improvised explosive devicesroadside bombstriggered remotely using radio links. As their grandfathers did in World War II, engineers and scientists in the United States and its coalition partners once again seek to develop sophisticated electronic countermeasures against these asymmetric weapons.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. ( The more it changes, the more it's the same thing)


Passport Not Required
U.S. Volunteers in the Royal Navy, 1939-1941
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
34 Photographs
Authors: Eric Dietrich-Berryman, Charlotte Hammond and R.E. White
ISBN: 9781591142249
Publishers: Naval Institute Press
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 15th Oct 2010

Publisher's Title Information

The WWII story of the twenty two American citizens who fought with the Royal Navy
 
Before America entered World War II, twenty-two U.S. citizens went to England and volunteered with the Royal Navy. Commissioned between September 1939 and November 1941, they stood side by side with their British compatriots, enduring all the hardships during Britain's darkest hours of WWII, fighting with great bravery during the Battle of the Atlantic and on other fronts. They won great admiration from the British people.
 
While the history of Americans serving in the Royal Air Force is well known, the story of these naval volunteers has not been previously told. Most trained at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, thus initiating what was to become the famous 'over here' phenomenon as the two different cultures learned to adapt to each other's ways. The faculty commemorated the arrival of the first two men with a plaque in the Painted Hall; however, mindful of the possible legal consequences, since foreign military service is against US law and could have resulted in loss of citizenship, their names were omitted. Now, after more than 30 years of research, their identities and the details of their contributions can be made known.
 
What makes this tale compelling is that the men actually had a significant impact on the war effort. Showing up was just the start; some achieved remarkable accomplishments. This is their story; who they were, what they did and why and what became of them.

Forward

I am delighted to write a foreword to Passport Not Required: U.S. Volunteers in the Royal Navy, 1939-1941.
The story tells of a number of gallant Americans who, when the fate of Britain and of the cause of freedom hung in the balance, volunteered to serve in the Royal Navy in the period 1939-41, before America's entry into the conflict. Their numbers may not have been great, but the fact that they came at a moment when Britain stood alone meant so much. No man can do more for another country than to volunteer to fight for it.

Two special remembrance services took place, in 2001 and 2004,

at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Most of the American volunteers were initially trained there and, to honour the twenty-two identified at that time, their names were inscribed, with due ceremony, on memorial tablets in the Painted Hall of the College. Colours of the Royal Navy and of the United States are permanently displayed with the tablets as a mark of respect.

Services like these are a fitting tribute and demonstrate in the finest possible way the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. The courage and fortitude shown by these American volunteers, who came over to Britain at such a dangerous time, leaving the safety of their own homes and country, are an example to us all.

I am extremely proud of my connection with the Royal Naval Reserve and the professionalism of its people. The story of these twenty-two American volunteers to the Royal Naval Reserve is a gallant one that should never be forgotten.

H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO Honorary Rear Admiral, Royal Naval Reserve

Introduction

In recent years, it has become somewhat fashionable for writers and broadcasters, understandably anxious to ensure that their work reaches as wide an audience as possible, to attach labels like "secret" or "forgotten" to their work, or to refer to every story as an "untold" one. While forgivable, the knock-on effect of such slapdash use of these terms has been rather to devalue them. Yet every so often a genuinely untold story; a real piece of "forgotten" history, does come to light, and the subject of Passport Not Required is unequivocally one of them.

This extraordinary narrative leaps back from the unveiling of a memorial in the Old Royal Naval College's beautiful Painted Hall in October 2001, to a time when a handful of men came from the other side of the Atlantic to stand with Britain in her time of greatest peril. The Americans who served with the Royal Air Force's "Eagle Squadrons" have been celebrated in narrative and on screen many times over the years, and have their own memorial in Grosvenor Square, but the story of those who served with the Royal Navy has, until now, remained obscure.

What drives a person to go and fight in someone else's war? The subject is a source of endless fascination, and in the twenty-two men whose stories are told in these pages, a whole range of motives can be found, from the touching Anglophilia of Alex Cherry to the striking idealism of Bill Homans. A restless spirit of adventure, an inability to settle, a visceral loathing of Nazism and what it stood for all played their part in sending these twenty-two men, not always so very young, across the Atlantic to Britain in her hour of dire need.

But Passport Not Required is not just a tale of men at war, and a very good one. It also reflects the extraordinary efforts made by a small group of people to ensure that this story be released and the twenty-two men be allowed to take their places in the vast saga of World War II. Particular credit is due to the remarkable Ronald "Chalky" White, who gave up the last years of his life to this project; his co-researcher Charlotte Hammond; and Eric Berryman, who stepped up to write the book and ensure that others could benefit from Chalky and Charlotte's detective work. This book stands not just as a testament to those twenty-two resolute men who came to Britain to fight in 1939-41, but also to those who struggled with much determination to make sure the volunteers would be remembered. It is a notable achievement, and proof that those of us bearing the word "historian" in our job tides are only just the privileged tip of a very large iceberg.

Nick Hewitt, MA
Naval Historian
Imperial War Museum, London


LINKS

"Royal Navy & Maritime Book Reviews" Copyright Rob Jerrard 2010