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Book Review
USN Destroyer vs IJN Destroyer
USN Destroyer vs IJN Destroyer, The Pacific 1943
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

USN Destroyer vs IJN Destroyer, The Pacific 1943
Series: Duel * 48
Author: Mark Stilles
Artists: Ian Palmer, Guiseppe Rava
Pages: 80
Formats: Softcover, eBook,
ISBN: 978-184908-623-3

This review examines USN Destroyers vs IJN Destroyers, The Pacific 1943, the 48th title in Osprey's series Duel. It presents through text and images the technical, tactical, strategic and policies of the American and Japanese destroyer forces in 1943.

Imperial Japan launched the great Pacific War with a navy supremely confident that they would overcome their numerical inferiority with technical and training superiority. Allied navies were scourged by the Imperial Japanese Navy's top-secret high-speed wakeless Type 93 torpedo, which was employed by highly trained crews with superb optics fighting under an established doctrine. That doctrine allowed aggressive destroyer tactics and night combat. Against the IJN was an equally well-trained and technologically advanced USN that would suffer from a different doctrine emphasizing cruiser gunnery and defensive destroyers, lack of technical proficiency, and flawed Mk 15 torpedoes. When these two navies met in the narrow straights of the Solomon Islands on an August night in 1942, it started a very bad year for United States Navy surface forces.
USN Destroyer vs IJN Destroyer, The Pacific 1943 reveals the story of the evolution of American destroyer doctrine and tactics necessitated by IJN night superiority. Author Mark Stilles presents the technical and doctrinal background of the two combatants and the results of the fighting through 80 pages in 11 chapters and sections:

    1. Introduction
    2. Chronology
    3. Design and Development
    4. The Strategic Situation
    5. Technical Specifications
    6. The Combatants
    7. Combat
    8. Statistics and Analysis
    9. Aftermath
    10. Bibliography
    11. Index

This book explores the design and equipping of American and Japanese destroyers that faced each other through the end of 1943. The success and problems of IJN and USN torpedoes are examined. As are the reasons that well drilled Japanese sailors with Type 88 Model 1 binoculars often negated American SG and SC search radars and Mk 4 fire control radars. How USN coped is discussed. Surface gunnery and weapons are not neglected, comparing Japanese and American destroyer cannons. Mounts for the respective weapons are discussed. Japan’s own No. 22 radar and its deployment is not ignored.

IJN and USN destroyer classes are presented with a brief history of the design and employment of the unit. Each has a list of pertinent data and performance.

Four pages are dedicated to the careers of the two “destroyer aces” who figure prominently in developing tactics and then fighting the destroyer squadrons, Captain Arleigh Albert Burke, USN, and Captain Hara Tameichi, IJN.

The effectiveness of commanders, doctrine, equipment, tactics, and training of the ships and crews is compared by examining the four destroyer night battles in 1943: The battle of Vella Gulf; The battle off Horaniu; The battle of Vella Lavella; and The battle of Cape St. George. Each fight is introduced with a historical preface and identifies the destroyer unit, names and classes the ships , and commanders. Excerpts from diaries, journals and reports support the narratives. Maps help the reader visualize the complexity of these night actions.

Mr. Stille has many titles in his resume and that is apparent by the easy of reading the well-organized text. While a radar system could fill an entire book, he discusses the various aspects in sufficient detail to accomplish relating this complex story. Finally, the effect of the 1943 battles is explored for the rest of the war.
Art, Graphics, and photographs
The text is supported by a few dozen high quality black-and-white photographs. Most are portraits of destroyers, mainly in port. A few are intriguing in-action shots of main batteries and secondary weapons firing. A few show US destroyers after tasting Type 93 torpedoes. Artists Ian Palmer and Giuseppe Rava support the text with original full color artwork:
1. The Central and Northern Solomon Islands
2. The battle of Vella Gulf, August 6-7, 1943
3. The battle off Horaniu, August 18, 1943
4. The battle of Vella Lavella, October 6, 1943
5. The battle of Cape St. George, November 25, 1943

a. IJN Armament:
    1. Type C/D gun mount for the 5in/50 gun.
    2. Destroyer triple torpedo launcher.
    3. Destroyer quadruple torpedo launcher.

b. USN Armament:
    1. Mark 30/18 shielded power-worked single base mount with 5in/38 dual-purpose gun.
    2. Quadruple torpedo tube mount.
    3. Quintuple torpedo tube mount.

c. USN Radar Screen: view of the radar return of a USN Mark 4 radar.
d. IJN Binocular View: what a Japanese look-out might see through his Type 88 Model 1 binoculars.
e. USS Charles Ausburne: flagship of Capt. Burke at Cape St. George.
f. HIJMS Yugumo: the destroyer in her 1943 configuration prior to the battle of Vella Lavella.
g. HIJMS Onami at the moment of her destiny, November 25, 1943.

Data Tables

I. American and Japanese destroyer-launched torpedoes: Mark 15 (USN); Type 93 (IJN)
II. 5in/38 gun on Mark 30 mount
III. 5in/50 3rd Year (1914) gun

I became friends with an officer who was on USS Helena at Kula Gulf. How Japanese torpedoes were able to dominate the waters of the Solomons has always amazed me. I have had questions about the USN destroyer war and IJN destroyer performance since reading The campaign for Guadalcanal and similar books as a teen. I knew that Japanese training and optics outperformed America technology, the value of the Type 93, and of the recovery of USN performance. What hadn’t coalesced was how USN and IJN destroyers actually matched up. This book brings answers to many of those questions.

Mr. Stilles brings his great knowledge of naval topics into this title in an easily read manner that balances technical topics with understanding by enthusiasts. I am impressed with the detail used to recount complex night surface actions. The photographic and art support does a fine job of supplementing the text. I really do not have any serious complaints as it is difficult to present such a demanding topic in an 80-page format.

I am very happy that this book was published and definitely recommend it to fans of destroyers, the Solomon Islands campaign, and naval actions.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on ModelShipWrights.
Highs: Well written text and choice photographs. Original artwork.
Lows: None really.
Verdict: An excellent book comparing USN destroyers and IJN destroyers in action against each other.
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 978-184908-623-3
  Suggested Retail: $18.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 21, 2013

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


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