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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Dave McComb
Illustration by Paul Wright
Osprey Publishing  2010
48 pages
Illustrations, WWII Photos, cutaways, tabular data. appendix, index
ISBN: 1846034434
Cover Price: $17.95
Language: English

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Osprey New Vanguard 162
US Destroyers 1934-45
Pre-war classes

In the dark days of World War II, prior to America's involvement and after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Navy's pre-war class destroyers formed America's vanguard of defense and continued serve until the end of the war. McComb's book on US Destroyer pre-war classes is one of the first releases on this specific topic in decades.

The book begins with a chapter devoted to the design and development of the "Treaty Class" and "Post treaty Class" destroyers. Following World War I, designs were made within the confines of disarmament treaties that attempted to regulate the tonnage and number of warships each major power built. The decade also gave rise to great technological advances that allowed Destroyers to steam faster and farther than ever before. Top among these innovations was high-pressure, high-temperature steam propulsion pioneered by Naval architect WIlliam Francis Gibbs of Gibbs & Cox first used in Mahan Class destroyers.

The book explores the modifications to Destroyers during the prewar years, including introduction of radar, anti-aircraft defenses and other armaments as the US Navy prepared to fight a two ocean war in the Atlantic and Pacific.

The majority of the book is devoted to the pre-war class destroyers in action, divided by theatre: Atantic-Mediteranian, North Africa-Europe and the Pacific. Each section is a concise overview of the major highlights and operations undertaken by specific pre-war class destroyers.

Artwork wise the book is equally impressive, featuring side views of many destroyers detailed in the text including: USS Wainwright DD-419 and USS Hillary P. Jones DD-427, USS Ralph Talbot DD-390, USS Sterett DD-407, USS Dewey DD-349, USS Smith DD-378, USS Lansdowne DD-486 and USS Ellyson DMS-19. Also, a cutaway view of USS Morris (DD-417) in 1942. Plus, two color plates depicting USS TIllman under attack by German gilder bombs during November 1943 and USS Maury and USS Craven en route to Vella Gulf, 1943.

One of the most exciting features of the book is McComb's command of Destroyer details. He introduces tabular data on nearly every page of his narrative that helps the reader to "see" the different classes, hull number, assignment and configuration. Tables identifying ships initially assigned to each World War II squadron have, to my knowledge, never appeared in any other book.

The last page of the book highlight the value of these tables, in a comprehensive appendix of dimensions and design specifications for the prewar classes. Although the topic of US Destroyers is seemingly well covered, McComb's data reveals new and more accurate dimension and configurations information, never before published.

Meticulously researched and Illustrated, this book is a must for anyone interested in US Destroyers. This book is the first volume in a series covering US Destroyers, see also US Destroyers 1942-1945 Wartime classes.

Interview with author Dave McComb of Destroyer History Foundation

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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