S u m m a r y
||US Destroyers 1942-45 - The Wartime Classes
by Dave McComb
Illustrated by Paul Wright
Osprey New Vangard - 165
||250mm X 185mm soft cover with 48 pages, 45 black and white photos and 2 in colour, 4 action paintings and 8 full colour side profiles including camouflage notes.
||GBP£7.49 online from Osprey Publishing
||Covers all three wartime classes, Fletcher, Allen M. Sumner and Gearing, with many very clear photos, excellent colour artwork including a sectioned Sumner, USS Laffey, easy to read text and interesting profiles.
||At least two of these classes are available in both 1/350th and 1/700th scales and are reasonably recent releases and this book is a very good companion if not the perfect reference.
Reviewed by Glen Porter
Osprey's US Destroyers 1942-45 is available online from Squadron.com
Destroyers (the name being an abbreviation of Torpedo Boat Destroyers) are the greyhounds of the sea. Along with the Royal Navy's Tribal class and the German Navy's Z class, the three wartime US Navy classes were among the biggest, most powerful destroyers seen up to that time. Not only were they fast but were called upon to perform all escort duties from convoys to the battle fleet in all weather and in every sphere of the globe.
The Fletchers are among the most recognisable warships of the 20th century and admired for their rakishness and battle worthiness and their derivatives, the Allen M. Sumner and Gearing classes were even better and more powerful.
As a Baby Boomer, growing up in Adelaide, South Australia in the late forties, early fifties, I remember seeing many of these ships visiting Port Adelaide on good will tours and as a visiter being shown around, smelling the gorgeous aromas coming from the gallies, the cleanliness of the ship and friendliness of the crew, part of the reason I joined the RAN ten years later.
The book begins with a one page introduction followed by the design and development of the Fletchers including sections on Propulsion Machinery, Main Gun Armament and Radar, Light Antiaircraft Armament, Torpedos and Antisubmarine Armament and finally, Construction and a list of all Fletcher hull numbers and names.
The Allen M. Sumner class is next explaining the advantages over the Fletchers such as the 6 5-inch guns in 3 turrets as apposed the Fletcher's 5 single turrets, twin rudders to give better manoeuvrability and a 14-inch wider hull and increased tonnage which allowed a more generous engineering space. These, along with the Gearing Class, in my opinion are the best looking ships to emerge from the US during World War 2. Again, a list of all of the Allen M. Sumner class hull numbers and names.
The Gearing class were also known as the “Long Hull” class because of the 14-feet added amidships creating a bigger gap between the funnels and an increased fuel capacity of more than 40%. Only five of the Gearings arrived in the war zones in time to earn campaign medals. A list of hull numbers and names completes this section.
The Fletchers weighed in at 2,100 tons, the Sumners increased to 2,200 tons and the Gearings to 2,425 tons making them big by international standards and their top speeds varied between 33 and 36 knots, which is also quite respectable.
Destroyers In Action is the title of the next chapter beginning at Guadalcanal, describing all of the battles there followed by New Guinea, the Philippines and island hopping to Japan. There are many B&W photos of the period including some showing the damage done from the likes of suicide plane attacks. In the middle is a section on ships of the classes operating in the Atlantic, their fates and victories.
To my mind, the highlight of this book is the artwork by Paul Wright, especially the 8 profiles, 4 Fletches, USS Strong, USS Pringle, USS Van Valkenburgh and USS Clarence K. Bronson, 2 Sumners, USS De Haven and USS Robert H. Smith and 2 Gearings, the name ship USS Gearing and USS Southerland. All are in glorious colour and some in canouflage described in the captions.
I am really not into modelling American Destroyers, preferring instead Royal Navy or RAN ships but after reading and reviewing this I'm leaning toward perhaps a Sumner or Gearing in 1/700th or 1/350th scales. Now if that is not a recommendation for a book, I don't know what is.
Osprey Publishing for the review sample
Review Copyright © 2010 by Glen Porter
Page Created 4 June, 2010
4 June, 2010
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