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Book Review
Axis Midget Submarines 1939-45
Axis Midget Submarines 1939-45, New Vanguard * 212
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

introduction
Axis Midget Submarines 1939-45 is the 212th title for the Osprey Publishing Ltd series New Vanguard. It is authored by Mark Stille and Jamie Prenatt, and illustrated by Paul Wright. Through 48 pages it presents the story of small submarines used by the Axis, available in softcover, PDF, and ePub formats.
    During World War II, Germany, Japan, and Italy built approximately 2,000 small, inherently stealthy, naval craft to perform special operations and conventional naval missions. Much more numerous and more technically advanced than their Allied counterparts, they saw service worldwide, operating in the Pacific, Mediterranean, Black Sea, Indian Ocean, North Sea, and the English channel. Manned by courageous crews, these vessels made daring attacks on Allied ships in heavily protected anchorages using torpedoes and mines. Most notable were attacks against Gibraltar – launched from an Italian cargo vessel interred in nearby neutral Spain that had been converted into a clandestine support base and equipped with an underwater hatch – and Pearl Harbor. They were used against shipping in coastal waters and, near the end of the war, in desperate attempts to offset their opponents’ overwhelming naval superiority during the US advance across the Pacific and the Allied amphibious landings in France and Italy. This volume will detail the history, weapons, and operations of German, Japanese, and Italian midget submarines. - Osprey Publishing LTD


history and contents
America's first shot of what became WWII were between a Navy destroyer (USS Ward DD-139) and a Japanese midget sub outside of Pearl Harbor. One of the little boats made it into the harbor and fired torpedoes against USS Curtiss. Well known as Japan's midgets may be, I have not met many modelers or historians who know about those of Italy and Germany. Those submarines were built for different reasons and met with varied success. Italian midget submarine crews pulled off some spectacular successes, one SLC crew being decorated for bravery by the British commander of the very battleship they sank!

Please note that the content page of this book, like almost every Osprey title I have seen, differs between the United Kingdom and United States editions, as often do the book covers. Authors Mark Stille and Jamie Prenatt present this history through 48 pages and seven chapters and sections:
    Introduction
    Origin
    Italy
    • History and Doctrine
    • Manned Torpedo Development
    • Manned Torpedo Wartime Service
    • Midget Submarine Development
    • Midget Submarine Wartime Service
    • Prototypes and Concepts
    • Analysis and Conclusion

    Germany
    • History and Doctrine
    • Manned Torpedo Development
    • Manned Torpedo Wartime Service
    • Midget Submarine Development
    • Prototypes and Concepts
    • Analysis and Conclusion

    Japan
    • History and Doctrine
    • Midget Submarine Development
    • Midget Submarine Wartime Service
    • Analysis and Conclusion
    Bibliography
    Index


While prospects for surviving a mission were dubious, none of those weapon systems were designed as suicide missions. All were intended to be recovered or at least abandoned by the crews who would then attempt to return to base. Japan even steamed a large cruiser specifically converted to launch and recover midget subs.

Italy made more use of special forces manned torpedoes but did deploy tiny submarines, mainly against Russia. Italian elite torpedo riders employed them in a surprising manner. Germany first converted torpedoes into manned "mother ships" to carry warshots, trying several designs and eventually deploying actual submarines. Some designs were ingenious aquatic vehicles that should come to no surprise to those familiar with Nazi Germany's penchant for the exotic. Japanese midget subs are perhaps the best known simply because they were at Pearl Harbor. Yet their raison' d'etre was far different than sneaking into harbors, and they boasted surprising range and speed.

The authors present the information is a clear and readable fashion. I quickly read through this short book mainly because it is interesting.

photos, artwork, graphics
many photographs support the text; most are black-and-white. Two are in color, a USN photo of a recovered midget sub, and an interior view of an Italian sub at a museum. Most of the images are studio quality but a few exposures were in unfavorable light, focus, etc.. Several interior views should thrill modelers and historians, and cause pain in the lower backs of most of us.

Artist Paul Wright employs his prestigious experience with several full-color illustrations and "in-action" scenes:
A. Italian Manned Torpedoes and Midget Submarines:
    i. SLC manned torpedo and warhead configurations
    ii. SSB manned torpedo.
    iii. CB-class midget submarine.
    iv. Marconi-class submarine Leonardo da Vinci, carrier of CA-2 midget submarines to attack New York.
    v. "600"-class/Adua-series submarine Scire' with three SLCs.

B. Attack on HMS Valiant: Lieutenant Durand de la Penne pulls his SLC under Valiant in attack.

C. The German Operational Vessels:
    i. Neger manned torpedo.
    ii. Marder manned torpedo.
    iii. Biber midget submarine, on trailer, and bow-view.
    iv. Molch midget submarine and trailer.

D. Seehund (Type XXVII B5/Type 127) cutaway, with technical specifications, 15 keyed components.

E. The German Prototype Vessels:
    i. Seeteufel tracked self-launching submarine.
    ii. Manta high-speed hydrofoil.
    iii. Delphin I high-speed mini-submarine.
    iv. Schwertwal I high-speed mini-submarine.

F. The Japanese Midget Submarines:
    i. Target A Type A midget sub.
    ii. Target A Type A Kai 1 midget sub.
    iii. Target A Type C midget sub.
    iv. Target A Type D midget sub.

G. Attack on HMS Ramillies, Diego Suarez harbor, May 30, 1942.

The artwork is accompanied by narrative sidebars.

Tables impart technical data:
1. Manned Torpedo SLC (Siluro a Lenta Corsa) SLC/SSB Specifications: Units in class; Length; Beam; Machinery; Armament; Crew.

2. CA 1-2 (Modified)/CA 3-4 (Modified) Specifications: Units in class; Length; Beam; Machinery; Armament; Crew.

3. CB Specifications: Units in class; Length; Beam; Machinery; Range (surfaced/submerged); Armament; Crew.

4. Neger/Marder/Hai Specifications: Units in class; Displacement; Length; Beam; Machinery; Range (surfaced); Armament; Crew.

5. Hecht Specifications: Units in class; Displacement; Length; Beam; Machinery; Range (submerged); Armament; Crew.

6. Molch Specifications: Units in class; Displacement; Length; Beam; Machinery; Range (submerged); Armament; Crew.

7. Biber Specifications: Units in class; Displacement; Length; Beam; Machinery; Range (surfaced/submerged); Armament; Crew.

8. Seehund Specifications: Units in class; Displacement; Length; Beam; Machinery; Range (surfaced/submerged); Armament; Crew.

9. Type A/B/C Specifications: Displacement; Length; Height; Beam; Machinery; Top speed; Range (surfaced/submerged); Diving depth; Crew. Curiously, no armament is listed.

conclusion
Axis Midget Submarines 1939-45 is a very interesting title. It taught me aspects of the Axis' naval war I had little knowledge about.

The authors revealed the story in a well organized and easily read text. Original artwork brings some of the great missions to life, and displays the vessels in beyond what most photographs can. The photographic choices are very interesting. Many are useful for modelers and artists.

This book should be welcome to those interested in Axis special forces, naval operations, submarines and torpedoes. I do not have anything meaningful to complain about and recommend this book.

We thank Osprey Publishing Ltd for providing this book for review - here at Model Shipwrights.
SUMMARY
Highs: A well organized and easily read text. Original artwork brings some of the great missions to life, and displays the vessels in beyond what most photographs can; the photographic choices are very interesting.
Lows:
Verdict: This book should be welcome to those interested in Axis special forces, naval operations, submarines and torpedoes.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781472801227
  Suggested Retail: $17.95, £ 9.99
  Related Link: Italian Navy & Air Force Elite & Special Forces
  PUBLISHED: Aug 26, 2014
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 86.98%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.20%

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)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

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 ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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