New Books Examine Chinese Navy,
Philippine Defense, Italian Battleships
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARMY NAVY: Combat Systems
By James C. Bussert and Bruce A
Elleman. Annapolis, Md.: Naval
Institute Press, 2011. 256 pp.
During the 1970s and 1980s, books
that described the organization,
order of battle and technical capabilities of the Soviet
Navy were in high demand by readers craving understanding of that closed society’s military. It is no surprise that with the rise of China as a world power,
analyses of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)
would come forth to try to penetrate the opaqueness of
Chinese naval power. The authors describe, in narrative form with tables, the current ships, aircraft,
weapons and electronic systems of the PLAN in great
detail while providing a historical perspective of the
PLAN since its beginnings, and an assessment of the
service’s strengths and weaknesses.
TURNING THE TIDE: How a
Small Band of Allied Sailors
Defeated the U-boats and
Won the Battle of the Atlantic
By Ed Offley. New York: Basic
Books, 2011. 512 pp. $28.99
There is no shortage of books on the
German U-boat campaign and the
Battle of the Atlantic in World War
II, but Offley concentrates on the 12-week period in the
spring of 1943 that marked the turning point in the war-long battle. The U.S. Navy, Canadian and British destroyers, Coast Guard cutters and long-range patrol bombers
that hunted the U-boats were aided by radar, sonar and
signals intelligence, and finally massed enough in the
North Atlantic to put a full-court press on the U-boats.
Though they remained a potent force, the U-boat fortunes were on decline after the tide had turned, and the
successful convoy transits enabled the Allies to build up
the forces needed to invade Fortress Europe. The author
also provides a human look at the Sailors and merchant
seamen who defeated the U-boats.
FIGHTING FOR MacARTHUR:
The Navy and Marine Corps’
Desperate Defense of the
By John Gordon. Annapolis, Md.:
Naval Institute Press, 2011.
384 pp. $32.95.
Sailors and Marines made up 40 percent of U.S. personnel in the Philippines when the
Japanese invaded in December 1941. The Asiatic Fleet —
including submarines, PT boats and patrol planes — provided a valiant defense, as did the 4th Marine Regiment,
in an increasingly desperate situation. Sailors also
manned Army shore batteries and fought as infantrymen
alongside Soldiers and Marines all the way through the
defense of Bataan and Corregidor. The 4th Marines
became the only Marine Corps regiment ever lost in
combat. The author also mined Japanese sources to present the most complete account of the Navy and Marine
Corps’ action in the defense of the Philippines.
ITALIAN BATTLESHIPS OF
WORLD WAR II: 1940-1945
By Mark Stille. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey
Publishing, 2011. 128 pp. $17.95
The seven battleships of the Regia
Marina that served in World War II
enjoyed reputations superior to the
Italian fleet as a whole. Their crews
were eager for battle against the U.K. Royal Navy, but
often were limited by higher command to actions against
inferior forces. Though three battleships were put out of
action for months — one for good — by the British air
raid on Taranto, the force was repaired and remained a
potent threat to Allied convoys in the Mediterranean. For
a time, the battleships helped ensure the mission success
of Axis convoys supplying North Africa and the Balkans.
Eventually they were starved of fuel. Ironically, the only
Italian battleship lost during the war was sunk by
German aircraft after Italy switched sides to the Allies.
This well-illustrated monograph gives the reader a thorough technical and operational look at the ships. ;