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Book Review
Battleships: USN vs IJN
USN Battleship vs IJN Battleship The Pacific 194244
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

USN Battleship vs IJN Battleship, The Pacific 194244 was released by Osprey Publishing LTD last year, in time for the 75th anniversary of the first Pacific war battleship duel.

I was very excited when this book was announced as I am fascinated with the Guadalcanal campaign, and the naval clashes around that island witnessed several battleship actions, including one in this book.

It is part of the series Duel and is the 83rd title of the series. Authored by Mark Stille and illustrated by Alan Gilliland and Paul Wright, the book is 80 pages of content. Osprey's Short code is DUE 83 and the paperback is ISBN 9781472817198; this book is also available in PDF and ePUB.

As Osprey advertises:
    In the build-up to World War II both the United States and Japan believed their battleships would play a central role in battle, but after the Pacific War began in December 1941, the role of the battleship proved to be much more limited than either side expected. There would be only two battleship vs battleship actions in the Pacific in World War II, both of which are assessed in this engaging study. At Guadalcanal in 1942, Kirishima faced two modern US battleships, USS Washington and USS South Dakota. In the Surigao Strait in 1944, two World War I-era Japanese battleships, Yamashiro and Fuso, faced six American battleships supported by four heavy cruisers in history's last-ever clash between battleships.

    Employing full-colour artwork, carefully selected archive photographs, and expert analysis, former US Navy Commander Mark E. Stille examines the two head-to-head clashes between the battleships deployed by the United States and Japan in the struggle for control of the Pacific during World War II.

Osprey filled the book with a concise erudite text, educational photographs, and original artwork. This review will examine the content.

Between the Covers
USN Battleship vs IJN Battleship is 80 pages in length and organized into 11 chapters and subsections:
    Design and Development
    The Strategic Situation
    Technical Specifications
    The Combatants
    Statistics and Analysis

Perhaps the quintessential battleship action of the Pacific War was the solitary attack of USS Washington, challenging the IJN Kirishima and the rest of the overwhelming Japanese fleet at their own game of night fighting, after her destroyer screen was shattered and companion USS South Dakota battered out-of-action. In great detail that engagement is recounted but beforehand, the author presents the history of the American and Japanese battleship fleets. The technical, doctrinal, and treaty aspects of these ships are discussed through 20 pages in Introduction, Chronology, and Design and Development. Within those pages the five classes of Japanese battleships (naval class code "BB") are compared and contrasted with the eight classes of USN BBs. Each class is discussed including their modifications and rebuilds, and how they were employed during the war. Armor (thickness, placement, and total weight) and armaments and propulsion are reviewed.

Next, The Strategic Situation is reviewed, covering the period from Pearl harbor until November 1942, when South Dakota, Washington and Kirishima steamed towards their destinies. Technical Specifications explores in more detail the guns and armor of the ships. How they were powered and the speeds attained are discussed, too. Japanese optics and American radar are examined, including the fire control systems.

Twenty-three pages later we meet The Combatants and learn about their training and tactics. Those seven pages include biographies of four commanders, USN Admirals Willis Lee and Thomas Kinkaid, and IJN Admirals Kondo Nobutake and Nishimura Shoji.

Combat is the chapter many readers will turn to first. Recreating naval engagements is difficult and the author does a commendable job of bringing them to life. The first battleship duel is the legendary Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Seven pages are required to tell the story of how an ad hoc force of USS South Dakota and Washington with only four destroyers were sent into narrow waters to confront IJN Kirishima and her escort of more than a dozen light and heavy cruisers and destroyers. In an incredible night melee witnessing one of the most successful lone destroyer torpedo salvo of the war, Japanese gunners took out the USN destroyer screen and then ganged up on South Dakota, impotent due to a power failure. Thence began Washington's lone duel against the Japanese forces, culminating a classic point-blank gun duel with Kirishima.

Next is the story of Surigao Strait. There the balance of forces were turned and the Japanese navy attempted their naval Charge of the Light Brigade against a set-piece aquatic ambush.

How the BBs of Japan and America fared in the war is analyzed and reconciled in Statistics and Analysis and Conclusion.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
Osprey fortifies the text with a good gallery of photographs. Most are black-and-white although there are some color images. Most are high quality. For me, one of the most amazing photographs is a large image shot on the deck of a Japanese BB looking back on the main turrets and bridge. Another view is of a pair of USN BBs after they collided.

Artists Alan Gilliland and Paul Wright bring full-color original artwork to the book. This includes two centerfold action scenes:

    1. USS South Dakota in the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal being pummeled by heavy Japanese forces.

    2. HIJMS Yamashiro in Surigao Strait boldly steaming into the maw of six BBs and many cruisers and destroyers, dauntlessly returning fire.

Further art and graphics are:
    Profiles and planforms of:
      3. Washington
      4. West Virginia

      5. Kirishima
      6. Yamashiro

    7. USN weaponry: 16in/45 twin turret; 16in/45 triple turret; 5in/38 dual mount

    8. IJN weaponry: 14in/45 twin turret with rangefinder; 14in/45 triple turret; 6in/50 casement gun

    9. Schematic: IJN battleship fire-control system

    10. Schematic: USN battleship fire-control system


    a. Battleship specifications: Units in class; Displacement; Dimensions; Maximum speed; Range; Protection; Main and secondary armament; Crew for;
      Iowa-class specifications (1943)
      South Dakota-class specifications (1942)
      North Carolina-class specifications (1941)
      Colorado-class specifications (1923)
      Tennessee-class specifications (as rebuilt)
      Pennsylvania-class specifications (1941)
      Nevada-class specifications (1941)
      Kongo-class specifications (1941)
      Fuso-class specifications (1941)
      Ise-class specifications (1941)
      Nagato-class specifications (1941)
      Yamato-class specifications (1941)

    b. USN battleship gunnery at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: Ships involved in five actions; Total rounds fired/hits by 16in and 5in rounds

    c. IJN battleship main and secondary guns: 14-18in main guns and 5.5-6.1in secondary guns; by shell weight, muzzle velocity, maximum range, and rate of fire

    d. USN battleship main and secondary guns: 14in/45-16/50in main guns and 5in/25-5in/51 secondary guns; by shell weight, muzzle velocity, maximum range, and rate of fire
    Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal keyed to 12 actions for Task Force 64 and four Japanese forces

    Surigao Strait keyed to 9 events

That art and graphics enhances the text.

I find USN Battleship vs IJN Battleship The Pacific 194244 to be a very interesting book. Now you know why I was so excited when this book was announced. The night of November 14-15, 2017 - the 75th anniversary of the Second Battle of Guadalcanal - I read through the battle minute by minutes.

This book aquatints the reader with the Japanese doctrine of a decisive battle and the role of the battleship in it. It explains that USN's radar was not quite the magic eye as we've come to believe. The battles are well narrated.

Modelers should be inspired by the gallery of photographs and artwork. The content is good source material for the detail-oriented.

For a variety of reasons - technical, historical, visual - I am enthusiastic about this title and happily recommend it.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Model Shipwrights.
Highs: Detailed and interesting text. Inspirational gallery of photographs and artwork.
Lows: Nothing objective.
Verdict: For a variety of reasons - technical, historical, visual - I am enthusiastic about this title and happily recommend it.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472817198
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 22, 2018
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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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.


Written descriptions of the fighting men, equipment, and battles can be engaging and informative... but that rendering of the South Dakota in flames off Guadalcanal is terrifying!
FEB 23, 2018 - 09:52 PM
LOL just play World of Warships. you can figure out the who would win every day
FEB 23, 2018 - 11:19 PM
Purchased on Amazon!
FEB 25, 2018 - 09:40 PM
Got it yesterday when I got home from work!! Looks great and can't wait to read it!
FEB 26, 2018 - 09:09 PM
Thanks Guys! Charlie, let me know if you think it is as good as I do?
MAR 03, 2018 - 12:14 AM
Hi Tim, Terrifying indeed! In Osprey's book US ''Treaty'' Heavy Cruisers they show USS Houston in flames at Sunda Strait. My dad and one of his two friends he joined the navy with was there! Dad made it to Australia, his friend Dave became a POW. Dad really never talked about it but a couple of years ago, Dave told me about climbing out of the bowls of the ship in one of the tripod masts and stumbling over corpses as Houston was sinking. Terrifying.
MAR 03, 2018 - 12:19 AM
I should be able to get some reading done this week!! I'll let you know! It looks amazing so far!
MAR 05, 2018 - 01:32 AM
It was great!! Short read, finished it in one night but super informative and covered everything! I highly recommend it!
MAR 07, 2018 - 08:58 PM

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