Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyers 1919-45 (1), Minekaze to Shiratsuyu Classes
Being an avid fan of Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) destroyers, I was eager to get my hands on this book. The Japanese had two major advantages on the US Navy during the early days of WWII: a superbly trained and equipped air arm and their excellently equipped and crewed destroyer flotillas that made themselves utterly terrifying weapons during engagements like the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. The first chapters of the book provide a good summary of Japanese doctrine and how it developed from the naval treaties and influenced design. The meat of the book specifically addresses the early post-WWI designs leading up to the legendary Fubuki-class destroyers and their successors up to the Shiratsuyu class. Finally, the author provides a summary, defining why these magnificent machines utterly failed to make a lasting impression on the results of the Pacific War.
The first few chapters do a good job of explaining how Japanese design evolved from near carbon copies of British and captured German designs to the ship-killers of later, and far more dangerous, Japanese design. Much of this section is devoted to the impact the “Long Lance” torpedo would have on the IJN though throughout the war. Naval artillery is briefly touched upon, especially foreshadowing the late war anti-aircraft impotence prevalent in the Japanese navy.
The bulk of the book covers individual classes and histories of each of the major ships between the titled classes. Each destroyer is given a short action summary, along with her eventual fate. Of interest are the post-Washington Naval treaty destroyers, which were severely overweight and top heavy. The drawings and descriptions of the ill-fated warships are of special interest to the modeler. The author also provides a wealth of photographs and drawings of the Fubuki and early Japanese destroyers. The internal schematic of a Fubuki unit is especially interesting.
Finally, the author, Mark Stille, examines the impact of these fantastic offensive weapons. Like many before him, Mr. Stille notes the wonderful nightfighting capabilities of both Japanese light units and doctrine. However, as many of us who have an interest in IJN tactics have noted, their anti-submarine and anti-aircraft capabilities were severely lacking. Stille backs up his conclusion, referencing designs and refits contained in his book.
This book is an excellent reference for any modeler or IJN fan. Osprey has added another solid volume to their collection. I’d like to thank Osprey Publications for providing this publication for review, and IPMS-USA for allowing me to review it.