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Lacroix, Eric and Linton Wells II. Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997.
Preface; Abbreviations; diagrams; schematics; photos; charts; tables; maps; Summary Data Tables; Glossary: Japanese-English; Bibliography; Index.
Appendices: The Organization of the Imperial Navy; Heads of the Shipbuilding Section of the Navy Technical Department; The Tomozuru and Fourth Fleet Incidents; Maps, Conversion Tables, and Technical Definitions; Machinery; Material; Aeronautical Equipment; Ordnance and Fire Control
Big book. Big, big book.
This must be one of the heftiest tomes to come around in years. At almost 900 pages it's weighty enough to make anyone think twice about picking it up (and must have caused some discussion during editorial and production meetings about splitting it into two volumes).
For those who can manage to lift it, though, this is the ultimate source for Japanese cruisers. The authors go into studious detail about every facet of their subject, right down to the rivets.
Beginning with vessels built following the Russo-Japanese War, the various classes of cruisers are described chronologically as designed and constructed. (This includes two Chinese light cruisers incorporated into the IJN.) For each class the authors describe the overall shipbuilding program, design issues, treaty limitations, armament, machinery, protection, torpedoes, naming, and more. Dozens of charts and tables display precise information on every imaginable topic (such as comparative weight distributions, stability data, shells and gun performance). Drawings, diagrams, and schematics render theoretical designs, actual construction, and later refits. Numerous profiles and cross-sections illustrate every vessel, including some that never left the drawing boards.
The seven 50-cal Type 3 14-cm guns were the same models as fitted in the Tenryu class, with the same single pedestal mount. However, the maximum elevation of these guns was increased to 25 degrees and the maximum range to 17,500m in the Kuma and Nagara classes, and to 30 degrees and 19,100m in the Sendai class. The 21-ton mounts were hand-operated and had a maximum training and elevating speed of 8 degrees/sec. Ammunition was supplied by bucket chain hoists, which brought both shells and power bags from the magazines below the store deck (No. 3 deck) up to the upper deck. There were four hoists, two side by side aft at frames 52-53, supplying No. 1 - No. 4 guns. All transfers of ammunition from the hoists were manual, and the transport to No. 1 and No. 5 guns involved relatively long distances.
This kind of voluminous technical material abounds in Japanese Cruisers almost to the extent that one would classify this as a engineering manual.
However, there is ample room here, and the authors take advantage of it to provide a full measure of operational history for each cruiser. Full attention is given to the movements and engagements of the vessels as well as their almost continual refitting and updating with increased AA protection, air- and surface-search radars, modified fire control equipment, and so on. Orders of battle (and lists of commanders) for the Combined Fleet and its components are presented for every phase of the war and every cruiser engagement.
The Atago was hit at 0633 on the starboard side by four out of six torpedoes fired from less than 1,000m by the Darter's bow tubes. No. 1 hit in a storeroom near frame 30, flooding the bow and damaging the anchor windlass room. No. 2 hit in No. 1 boiler room near frame 125 and flooded No. 1 and No. 2 (athwartships) boiler rooms, the main gun plotting room, and the compartments below it. No. 3 hit in No. 6 boiler room near frame 180 and flooded it, and the No. 7 boiler room (port) caught fire. No. 4 hit near frame 260 and flooded No. 4 engine room, the aft generator room, the compartments below it, and the powder and shell magazines of No. 4 turret. The hits brought the Atago to a halt with an 8 degree starboard list, which rapidly increased to 18 degrees and 23 degrees despite the immediate counterflooding of No. 3 engine room, No. 7 boiler room, and the forward No. 4 watertight compartment to port (drawing 7.6). Flooding spread rapidly when the list increased, and the Atago was given up when the list reached 54 degrees. The destroyers Kishinami and Asashimo took off some 700 of the Atago's crew, including Vice Admiral Kurita and his staff. At 0653 the Atago capsized to starboard and sank bow first in position 09 30 N, 117 13 E with 360 men, including Captain Araki Tsutau, the former captain of the Furutaka, in command since 15 November 1943. After the sinking the Atago was temporarily attached for administrative purposes to the Combined Fleet on 15 November 1944 and was removed from the Navy List on 20 December 1944.
The appendices devote over 130 pages to further information including (as if some of this material weren't already specialized enough!) mathematical equations and coefficients, physical properties of armor materials, data tables for cruiser-based seaplanes, and much more.
A spectacularly successful work, packed with an abundance of raw data and thoughtful explication. If you're strong enough to pick it up, get it.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Naval Institute Press.
Thanks to NIP for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 22 January 1998
Copyright © 1998 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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