Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews - Provided by Rob Jerrard

Oxford Museum Press (Oxford Ohio USA)

World War II Submarine Memorial


Author: Prepared by Dr John C Fakan & Paul C Farace

ISBN: 1930127014

Publishers: Oxford Museum Press, Ohio, USA


Publication Date: 1999

U.S.S. Cod

On December 7, 1941, the U S Pacific battle fleet was effectively destroyed by the surprise Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour.  The only force in the U S arsenal that was able to strike back was America's submarine force.  And strike back they did.  But it was not an easy job.  The U S submariners were handicapped by poor torpedoes and an obsolete attack doctrine that was developed during peacetime years by men with no practical combat experience.

But under the leadership of Vice Admiral C A Lockwood, who gave his commanders a free hand to use their initiative and daring, commanders like Dudley Morton of Wahoo, tactics changed, and so did the fate of the Japanese Empire.

The U S S Cod is a GATO class fleetboat. The most advanced submarine design in the world when she was built, Cod was a powerful weapon for the U S Navy in the Pacific Theatre. The U S S Cod was laid down on July 21, 1942, at the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Connecti­cut. Cod was launched on March 21, 1943  when Mrs Grace M Mahoney, the wife of a veteran shipyard employee, broke the bottle on her bow.  She was commissioned on June 21, 1943, under the command of CDR James C Dempsey, USN.

The U S S Cod carried out seven war patrols during which she sailed 88,254 miles and fired 112 torpedoes. She sank a total of 14 ships, 26 junks and performed the only interna­tional submarine-to-submarine rescue when she saved the crew of the Dutch sub 0-19.

Cod was mothballed in 1946, then re­commissioned in 1951 to participate in NATO anti-submarine training exercises.  She was decommissioned again in 1954.  In 1959, she was towed through the St  Lawrence Seaway to serve as a naval reserve training vessel in Cleveland.  In 1971, Cod was stricken from the register of Navy ships.

A group of local supporters of Cod formed the Cleveland Coordinating Committee for Cod, Inc., to preserve her as a memorial.  In January, 1976, the Navy gave guardianship of the submarine to the group.  Cod began her new career as a floating memorial in May of 1976 when she opened to the public.  In 1986 Cod was declared a National Historic Landmark.

USS Massachusetts  WWII Battleship Memorial

Author: Randall S Shoker

ISBN: 1930127049

Publishers: Oxford Museum Press, Ohio, USA

Price $17.95

Publication Date: 2004

USS Massachusetts BB 59

Design History

Massachusetts and her sister ships of the South Da­kota class, represented the peak of battleship design limited by the London Naval Treaty of 1936.  A balanced blend of offensive and defensive capabilities, Massachusetts and her sisters were a milestone in naval architectural achievement.

The London Treaty of 1936 limited both the size and number of battleships a country could possess.  The primary restrictions of the treaty limited gun size to 14-inches and standard displacement to 35,000 tons.  When Japan announced that it was not going to abide by the terms of the London Naval Treaty regarding main armament, the other main signatories, including the United States, clung to the limits in the vain hope that Japan would follow.  When it became apparent that Japan was going its own way, the United States modified the two ships of the North Carolina class then under construction by increas­ing the main battery to 16-inch guns from the 14-inch guns in the original design.  Unfortunately, they were too far into the construction process to increase their armour.

The two ships of the North Carolina class had been considered the best possible given the limitation of 35,000 tons, yet there were a number of shortcomings to the design.  The South Dakotas were meant to overcome those shortcomings, and in large part they did.  The first two ships were originally part of the naval appropriations Act of April 4, 1938, but as the international situation grew worse, Congress offered President Roosevelt two more 35,000-ton battleships, which he gladly accepted.  These second two ships brought the number of South Dakotas to four - and the third ship of the class, BB59, would bear the name Massachusetts.

Massachusetts and her sisters were unique because U.S. designers were able to maintain the desired 27 knot top speed and protect the ship against 16-inch gunfire.  They did this by shortening the hull, which resulted in a smaller protected space for her vitals.  The weight saved by shortening the ship went into better protection.  The price for a shorter ship was the need for more shaft horsepower, yet the shorter hull made less space available for more powerful equipment.  Massachusetts needed 135,000 shaft horsepower to drive her through the water at the same speed that 115,000 shaft horsepower drove North Carolina.  A novel solution was developed: the ship's high and low speed turbines were placed next to the boilers instead of having separate fire and engine rooms.  There was also room for turbo generators in each of the four engine rooms, as well as evaporators and distilling equipment.

Another innovation was Massachusetts's sloped internal armour belt.  By sloping the armour belt 19 degrees, the designers were able to satisfy the immune zone requirements set by the General Board against 16-inch shells and still satisfy the Lon­don Treaty.  There were some drawbacks to this innovation, however; the ships were very cramped and when fully loaded tended to be wet at the bow.  The short length of the ship made for a very short superstructure.  Although small, it was a very efficient design.

The rising star of U.S. naval design, Captain A.J. Chantry, head of preliminary design during the ship's construc­tion, created in Massachusetts and her sisters a very capable

design that would go down in history as one of the finest ever.

The Battleship Massachusetts and her sisters represented the peak of treaty designed battleships. Their unique design gave them both the protection and speed they need to perform the duties that were envisioned for them in the late 1930's. Massachusetts went on to have one of the best combat records of any United States battleship of World War II.  Fortunately for us she was preserved as a war memorial in Fall River,Massachusetts, where she is today.

Technical Reference 2 is perfect bound with a full color cover and full color ship camouflage profiles on the back.  Also included is a set of 35 X 23 pull-out 1/350th scale blue prints of Massachusetts drawn by Tom Walkowiak of The Floating Drydock.  We have expanded the original 56 page format to 64 pages printed on our deluxe 80lb high gloss paper, and have packed in more technical data and drawings (20) than before, including a full page cutaway of her 16 inch turrets!   An exciting feature of this book is several series of time lapse photos to show equipment changes.  We found three photos from almost the exact same angle and were able to contrast the subtle changes from her original outfitting in the summer of 1942, her big refit in 44 and her post war refit.   A photocopy of the 1942 refit page is on a thumbnail below.  This book is full of info, and it contains 85 photos (including 22 full page photos of the ship), both from the National Archives and from the ship today.

Battleship Scharnhorst, The Crew Photo Album

Author: Randall S Skoker

ISBN: 1930127006

Publishers: Oxford Museum Press, Ohio USA

Price $19.95

Publication Date: 1999

Over 150 photographs from three of the Scharnhorst's crew member’s photo albums make this book a must have for every serious student of naval history.  More than 70 of these fantastic photos were taken by crew members themselves and have never been published before!  There are over 60 official Kriegsmarine photos that were given to crew members to start their albums, including the sinking of the British aircraft carrier Glorious and photos from the famous Channel dash.  In addition, there are several pages that show a set of model builder plans for the Scharnhorst and her sister Gneisenau.  These plans were sold to model builders in Germany in 1941.

 More than a book of photos, the book gives a detailed account of the Scharnhorst's long cruise with her sister ship Gneisenau in the spring of 1940, including the battle with the Halifax convoys.  Also is the story of the battle of North Cape, and the fateful decisions by the German High command that let to her sinking and the death of almost two thousand men.

The heart of the book are the photos from the Alfred Herman Rieger collection, the Max Henschler collection, and a stunning album of unknown ownership.  Their photos show combat, the Scharnhorst fighting ice and heavy seas, an interesting series from Hitler's visit, as well as life on board.   Many of the boys had some real talent as demonstrated by the artistic nature of their photos.  While not part of the Technical reference series author Randall Shoker did add technical details in the captions describing the ships equipment in many of the photos.  Model builders and historians alike will find the details in the photos and captions informative.

 A compelling look at the struggle of the North Atlantic as seen through the camera lenses of the men who were there.  If you are a student of the Kriegsmarine or the battle of the Atlantic, you must own this book.

Author’s Introduction

This book's roots go back to a stormy November day in 1990 when my brother, my son and I were sailing a radio-controlled model of the World War I British battlecruiser New Zealand on a lake in a state park in Ohio.  The day started out clear, but a stone came up fast.  A comical string of events led to our battlecruiser finding a permanent berth at the bottom of the lake.  In the search to build a replacement, I decided to build the Kriegsmarine (the name of the WWII German Navy) battleship Scharnhorst.  It was to be one of two ships, the other being the H.M.S. Duke of York, the British battleship that would eventually sink the Scharnhorst.

The project got as far as the Scharnhorst's hull when I decided that the hull looked too good for a toy and that I should make it a static scale model.  Well, as most model builders can relate to, things happen to slow down even the best laid construction plans. I was unable to find even the most basic fittings in 1/192 scale, meaning I had to make them all from scratch.  Add to that my kids growing up, work, etc. and the project was put on hold.  In my search over the years for data to finish the model, I started to collect photos of the ship.  Through just plain luck I was able to acquire two photo albums that had be­longed to former Scharnhorst crewmembers.  In addition, I met the son of a survivor of the ship, and he had his father's photos.  What surprised me was how the photos made the ship and its crew come alive.  This book is about the photos.  Because many of the photos were taken on what is called "the long cruise," I have included narrative telling that story.  But this is a photo book, not a histori­cal or a technical reference.  I hope you find the photos as moving as I did.

I would like to point out here that I do not wish to glorify the Nazi regime with this book.  I have very strong personal beliefs about the Third Reich and do not wish to imply any type of sympathy for the Nazis.  I feel their story is a very important one and every child growing up in this democracy should study Adolph Hitler to understand how criminal politicians can betray their own people and cause dire consequences for all of humanity.  The German Navy was the least political of all of the branches of the German military.  The Kriegsmarine had to live with the legacy that the German Navy in World War I had surren­dered and scuttled itself at the British base at Scapa Flow. Thus the German sailors were very proud of their ships and service and felt they had to be better than their history.  One has to remember the desperate situation in Germany, before the war to the average German, Hitler brought hope, jobs, and food. His dark side emerged slowly, and by then it was too late.

The fact that they fought under a Nazi flag does not take away from the reality that the men on Hitler's ships had many things in common with our own brave veterans.  They missed their families, they were scared, and I'm sure many felt that Hitler was wrong. The victor's story is always remembered, but that doesn't mean that the vanquished should be forgotten.  Almost 2000 men died on the Scharnhorst when she sank in the Battle of the North Cape on December 26, 1943.  There was no cheering on the British ships that sank her, only the quiet remorse that follows a necessary killing.  Of course, the real tragedy is that the war did not have to happen, and yet it did.  We can only hope our children don't make the same mistakes.

Another book about Scharnhorst, Published by Sutton