Imperial Japanese Navy Antisubmarine Escorts 1941-45 New Vanguard 248 Book Review


Imperial Japanese Navy Antisubmarine Escorts 1941-45 New Vanguard 248

Written by Mark Stille, illustrated by Paul Wright

Paperback, 48 pages

Published by Osprey Publishing July 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472818164

ISBN-13: 978-1472818164

Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.3 x 9.7 inches

The doctrine of the Imperial Japanese Navy centered around fighting one climactic battle where the IJN was to win a decisive victory and thus the war.  All procurement and planning before the Pacific War had this strategy as its goal.  The Japanese submarine fleet was to be given a scouting and support role in this  battle, helping to locate the main enemy fleet and reduce their numbers before the Combined Fleet could join the battle.  The Japanese presumed their opponents would assign their submarines the same mission, and thus gave little thought to protecting their vital merchant fleet in a protracted war.

U.S. Naval doctrine also initially planned to assign the same mission to their Fleet Submarines, but when the Pacific War began the strategy shifted and the U.S. submarine force was tasked with destroying the Japanese merchant fleet.  Heavily reliant on imported resources, the island nation of Japan was particularly vulnerable to a sea blockade.  The Imperial Japanese Navy was remarkably unprepared to meet this threat.  The few dedicated escort ships available were lacking in anti-submarine warfare weapons and sensors, and were typically manned by officers drawn from the Japanese Merchant Marine Academy, not the IJN Academy at Eta Jima.  By 1943 the USN had overcome its initial problems with malfunctioning torpedoes and was deploying large numbers of newly constructed, state of the art submarines with highly trained crews and commanding officers hand-picked for aggressiveness.  The Japanese nation faced an existential crisis.

In this book author Mark Stille describes the belated Japanese efforts to design and produce escort vessels to counter the U.S. submarine threat and protect their merchant fleet.  The Japanese developed several related ship classes with progressive increases in ASW weaponry and efforts were made to simplify the designs in order to reduce construction times.  When US carrier and land based air power became a serious threat during the last year of the war, the ships were refitted with increased anti aircraft batteries.  The book describes the construction of each class and lists the fate of each vessel.  Illustrations are clear and well presented to show the differences between the classes.

Recommended as an overview of the topic, and a good recognition guide to help the reader identify the ship types.