Pen & Sword's US Navy Submarines 1900-2019

Author/Artists: Michael Green


Pen & Sword


$22.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 224 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
ISBN: 978-1-52-674206-3

This edition of Pen & Sword's 'Images of War' series covers the full history of US Navy submersibles from the first boat in 1900 until the present day. Submarine technology is one of the more interesting military weapon histories as a lot had to be overcome to make a useful naval weapon of this type of vessel. Initially subs were simply surface boats that had the ability to go underwater for a period of time. Some fairly odd propulsion was briefly tried, such as steam engines, but those proved to be incompatible with the job as it took time to get ready to dive and more time to re-rig the boat for surface operation. BTW, subs are called boats because a boat is small enough to fit on a ship and early subs were not large at all. The name stuck.

Operational subs were, from the beginning, to use torpedoes as their main offensive armament. These were initially not very reliable but their reliability and the number carried increased as time went on. In WWI, US boats were basically coastal types, unable to make the longer ocean voyages as were the German U-boats. However, by WWII, American submarines were quite capable, especially after a year or so passed in which an ineffective torpedo was finally corrected.

It was not until well after WWII that subs, for the most part were something other than surface vessels that could stay submerged for a while. Until the more streamlined boats were designed, their surface speed was always faster than their underwater speed, something that is the norm in today's subs. Then there was the issue of noise. It took a considerable amount of time to develop a proper drive that could not be detected from surface vessels.

These and a myriad of other technical innovations are covered in the book. It is divided into five main sections; the early years, WWII, Cold War diesel electric, Cold War nuclear, and post Cold War boats. Each is preceded by a goodly historical section that is followed by some superbly chosen photographs that deal with the subjects given in the history. In all, it makes for a really superb book on this fascinating weapon of war. Well worth picking up.

February 2020

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link

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