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By  Dorr  Carpenter  and  Norman  Polmar
Naval   Institute  Press

This Is  one of  those  delightful  books  which reviewers only occasionally come by. It is 177 pages in length, profusely illustrated, handy and of the best quality in every way. The reader may lear through it for the sake of its multitude of fabulous illustrations, accompanied by concise explanations, or settle down to read the five principal chapters or text entitled, “Strategy and Operations”. This text commences in 1904-05, when both Russia and Japan purchased submarines from the United States and ends with total defeat and disaster in 1945.

From the first, the Imperial Japanese Naval Command was composed or dedicated submariners. At the start of World War II the Japanese bad 63 operational submarines in commission and some 29 submarines under construction, and viewed objectively, its submarine force was comparable in strength  to      that  of  the  United States. However, were under  construction in  the  United   States, with many, many more to come. Moreover, the quality of the IJN submarine was never up to the magnificent quality of the United States submarines.There  was  no  comparison,   especially in terms or quietness, shock mounting of machinery, non-singing propellers, double bull protection from depth charges and habitability. Of particular merit in U.S. submarines was the Torpedo Data Computer with built-in automatic settings for torpedoes which enabled u.s. submarines to fire on any fire control solution, confident that the proper angles were set on the torpedoes.

Survivability has to be a criterion of quality of design and construction, as well as evasive tactics. u.s. submarine torpedoes accounted for 20 Japanese submarines, and mines ~ more. We may assume that in World War II no submarine could survive torpedoes or mines. However, other losses to our ASW forces were so catastrophic as to question every facet of Japanese   submarine  design,  construction      and operation. The record shows that of 18 RO class of 1,447 tons submerged displacement, only one survived the war. One was sunk by SEA OWL, one by aircraft, and  15 by U. S.  surface  ASW!!          Total losses       from    December,  1940 to   August,  1945, totaled 136. In addition, many Japanese submarines still afloat were unable to go to sea because of damage suffered from u.s. anti-submarine forces — which shipyards were unable to repair by the war’s end.

One may be led to believe that Japanese submarines were as fragile under attack as were Japanese destroyers which could withstand very little punishment as was shown at Wake Island and elsewhere.

There appear to be two principal factors which led to the ineffectiveness and final total catastrophe which befell the Imperial Japanese submarines. They are clearly described by authors Carpenter and Polmar in the book, so the reviewer will not go into detail. The first, and most total deficiency was failure of the Japanese High Command ( and lower command, as well ) to make up its mind on strategy, design or tactics, and stick to it. The second deficiency was the hopeless task of waging submarine war without radar detection or ranging against an enemy fully equipped with many types of radars.

The authors state the case very well in saying that the Japanese submarine force changed its tactical concepts six times in the four years of conflict with the United States. Further:”and  it  was  the  Japanese  Navy’s  repeated  use of submarines for purposes for which they were not designed that was a major reason for the failure of the submarine force to achieve a credible combat record.”

Japanese submarines were variously used as aircraft carriers, as supply ships, for refueling and re-arming flying boats, to bombard enemy coasts, to launch suicide KAITEN mini-subs in addition to sinking ships. Before and during the war, design changes came so frequently as to impede ever achieving excellence or the standardization so necessary for mass production. Confusion also infused tactics. To quote a Japanese skipper who was on a line or nine boats in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in 1943: ….”submarines were dashing back and forth between various stations assigned to them by the  Sixth Fleet.First,   an order would  say “move”. Then it would be changed to “move, navigating on the surface.” Still later, it would become “wait, remaining on surface.” These orders ignored completely the strong and weak features or a submarine.I’m positive that most of our submarines that were lost went down during this hectic and confused period.”

The record shows that six or the nine submarines “on the line” were promptly lost shades or the tragic period of “playing checkers” with submarines (to use his own words) when Jimmy Fife in Brisbane directed, shifted and reshifted submarines, from headquarters on New Farm Wharf. The results were the sudden and tragic loss or ARGONAUT, AMBERJACK, GRAMPUS and TRITON and the near loss or GATO in quick succession before “playing checkers” ceased.

The reviewer reads with grim foreboding the news that soon, employing lasers via satellite, communication from headquarters can be had with submarines at any depth or location! In the words of Santayana, “Those who forget history are doomed to live it all over again.”

The tactical advantages of radar to a submarine are well enough known to require no elucidation here. The advantages of radar far transcend even the excellent assists of ULTRA, making a submarine the master of the night. Almost as important as everything else is the peace of mind which radar grants the skipper and crew. The reviewer made a number of patrols in early 1942 in the Caribbean in command of S-17. At night we felt continually at risk, subject to air or surface threats, day or night. Even in good visibility, we were subject to surprise at any time from our own patrols as well as German U-boats, which seemed to fill the Caribbean at that time. Navigation,  after  being submerged  all  day, could become a nightmare. Surfacing at night in those days never gave the skipper the peace of mind which we always enjoyed when cruising, day or night, protected by the blessed SUGAR DOG and the SUGAR JIG radars. The saving grace for S-boats in the Caribbean was the fact that the enemy probably had no radar either, so we were on a par with them. Not so the unfortunate Japanese, who not only had no radar for search and attack, but they were faced with a relentless enemy that had submarine, surface and air radar — even PT boats. Here are a Japanese skipper’s words:

“American PT boats turned out to be the unconquerable enemy of Japanese submarines. They were very small, which made them bard to see — either at sea or against a shoreline. It did no good to fire torpedoes at them, as the    MODE  95  passed  well  beneath    them.         And they had radar. While they could hide under the smallest cover, cast by an overshadowing cloud or in a cove, they could still see us at a great distance with their electronic eyes.  They  could  dart  in   and   attack . . . . before  a  submarine could  do  anything.”

Everything said about PT boats could be said about U.S. submarines, aircraft and surface ships. For the Japanese submarine skipper on patrol, there was no rest for the weary, and death threatened every minute of the day or night.

It would appear that inability to formulate and implement major policy was characteristic of submarine design, as well as strategy and tactics. The authors catalogue no less than ten or eleven major changes in submarine design during the period  of  hostilities.   On  the  other hand,       u.s. submarines were produced by assembly line procedures and late alterations and additions of newer equipment were made after completion and acceptance.  Nothing   was permitted  to disrupt production. After completion and acceptance, it often took a month to install new equipment and make modifications   based  upon war patrol experience. Thus the u.s. outbuilt the Japanese in submarines several times over during the war.

A    word  about  torpedoes —  Japanese  and American. The Japanese Long Lance and other oxygen or oxygen-enriched torpedoes achieved some very great successes, due in some cases to long legs.            Chapter  16  covers  torpedoes,  but  fails      to explain the source of oxygen on submarines. This is very dangerous stuff and oxygen storage and generating   facilities present real  dangers. Perhaps          some  degree   of   the  fragility   of submarines, destroyers and cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy may be attributed to this fire  hazard. Perhaps      there    are     some    articles written on this subject. The writer knows, from his own eXperience, that oxygen enrichment was under study at Newport in 1934. Later on, at the War College in 1941, the problem of oxygen supply for surface ship torpedoes on Japanese ships was negatively evaluated because of the fire hazard presented by high pressure oxygen and oxygen generators. More study is needed on the subject of whether high pressure oxygen was a tolerable hazard for submarines. The book points out that early Type 95 Mod 1 submarine oxygen torpedoes presented grave problems with pressurization and had to be re-designed in 1943. The numerous RO class used the Type 6 air-kerosene torpedo with a maximum  speed  of  36  knots.   Other submarines  used Type    89  air-kerosene  engines  with  characteristics similar to the u.s. HK 14. The Type 95 Mod 2, oxygen-kerosene torpedo was a superior one — in general use in 1943 and afterward.

As for the Mark 14 u.s. torpedo, its only defense is that others (Germans) had torpedo problems as well. Aside from the influence exploder, which was a bust for everyone, the depth and exploder problems of the MK 14 Hod IV were largely . confined to the high speed mode (later corrected). At low speed (31.1 knots) it performed pretty well from the start. Hy personal problem stemmed from doctrine taught me at PCO School “to get in below 1000 yards to fire.” I experienced every bit of bad luck there was, until learned from Tom Dykers to lay off at about 1600 yards preferably at night and use low power.

Analysis during the war should have warned skippers that to attempt to get in under 1000 yards was a bad tactic. It was better to shoot from 1600 to 2000 yards for maximum effect at night. I would like to hear of more wartime-experienced opinion on optimum range. If the Japanese had any torpedo or exploder problems, Carpenter and Polmar fail to report.them (other than oxygen leakage on Type 95). However, I know that they suffered from their share of duds and some under-runs.

Now  the  reader must  savor  this  very  fine  book on his own. He may be assured that the exploits and a full description of Japanese submarine participation in World War II will be found. Well written, beautifully illustrated and free of all but an occasional minor error (p. 47 — HARDER not DARTER  sank          three  DDs  in  four  days  off  TAW!  TAW!); this book  is a keystone book  for          every submariner’s  library.  My congratulations  to Dorr Carpenter, Norman Polmar and the Naval Institute Press.

Brooks  J.    Harral
Rear Admiral,  USN(Ret.)


By  A. T.   Irvine,      Anchor  Publications, .f7.75

During World War II, Lieutenant Commander Irvine served as a young Sub Lieutenant in the British T Class Submarines TORBAY and TIPTOE and it is this experience that provides the background for his novel.

Life in a diesel submarine is vividly displayed in this story which starts with a North Sea battle in which Peter Manley takes command of the Submarine when his Captain is killed by an attacking German E Boat. He is decorated and given command of a T Class Submarine in overhaul. The story tells of the experiences, often thrilling, sometimes frightening of the ships’ company ashore and afloat from UK to Gibraltar and on into the Mediterranean.

The style of writing at first appears old fashioned until one realises that it accurately reflects the atmosphere 40 years ago whilst showing how many aspects of submarining remain the same today.

This book highlights the great responsibili-ties of a submarine Captain in the environment of war. Most of the time he is the only person who is knowledgeable about the enemy’s movements. And then he alone decides the course of action for his submarine. Thus, the successful submarine Captain is an outstanding leader, of high courage, and is absolutely committed   to  the  job  at  hand.

Commander  Phil  Higgins,     Royal  Navy


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