US Destroyers versus German U-Boats. The Atlantic 1941-45

Review by Martin Koenigsberg

I just finished my 13th Book Review of the Year!!

The WWII Nazi U-boat menace had the potential to affect The British Empire existentially, while it was a lesser threat to America. Thus it will be no surprise that the British Imperial Navies Air Forces and their Free European Allies had the majority of U Boat kills, after all, they had two extra years as well as more coverage responsibility. The US Navy and US Army Air Corps certainly did their bit in WWII, taking over Anti-submarine work in the Western Atlantic before Pearl Harbor and eventually forming Sub Hunter Jeep Carrier task forces that were very effective. Mark Lardas, a Writer on Naval and Aviation WWII topics brings the US Destroyer War against U-boats to the fore- in the typical Osprey Publishing “Duel” Series style. With lots of pictures, graphs, diagrams, and maps explaining specific tussles, we learn about the development of Submarine combat by the Kriegsmarine, and ASW doctrine for the US Navy.

My father was an Operations Research consultant- an area of study started by applying math and logic to ASW/convoy warfare. Our house as I grew up was filled with articles on search patterns, convoy wargames, depth charge settings and the mysterious “Hedgehog” weapon developed later in the war. But it took this book for me to truly understand how the Hedgehog was a good change of pace from the depth charge. The depth charge blew at a pre-determined depth (good name, huh?)- whilst the Hedgehog bombs sought proximity- no matter how deep. With the sensor array of both Surface Radar and subsurface Sonar- the Allies had technology at their command that is still useful today, although homing weapons are certainly stronger now. The four encounters discussed at length are all different ways Destroyers and Submarines can fight each other. It’s an interesting look at a vital part of WWII’s naval struggle.

There are a few adult themes and some may find the whole topic of undersea warfare anxiety-inducing, so this book is best for the Junior Reader over about 12/13 years with a nautical or historical bent. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, this is a useful if not indispensable title. The gamer gets a lot of good info for Submarine/Convoy scenarios, as well as lots of pictures for force development. The modeler will like the book- but will want more photo and color resources as well. The Military Enthusiast will enjoy learning about a lesser-discussed part of the US Navy’s epic contribution to WWII. The General reader will get much information in a relatively quick read.

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