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US Destroyers 1934-45: Pre-war classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – January 26, 2010

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US Destroyers 1934-45: Pre-war classes (New Vanguard) + US Destroyers 1942-45: Wartime classes (New Vanguard) + US Navy Aircraft Carriers 1922-45: Prewar Classes (New Vanguard)
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Product Details

  • Series: New Vanguard (Book 162)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846034434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846034435
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book is in the standard 48 page format that British publisher Osprey uses for many of their publications on ships and aircraft. It is interesting to see the company add American ships to their lists of publications and I don't think they could have done better than to publish this excellent reference work by the brilliant amateur destroyer historian, Dave McComb. This first of at least two such books by McComb, U.S. Destroyers 1934-45 covers in great detail the ships of the pre-war classes including the Treaty Classes and the Post Treaty Classes, namely: Farragut, Porter, Mahan, Dunlap, Bagley, Gridley, Somers, Benham, Sims, Benson and Gleaves. McComb provides the reader with important background on the design of each and how they differed, allowing us to envision the fast-paced evolution of destroyers as pressures to build more and better ships mounted as war clouds gathered.

Coupled with the artwork of noted British naval artist Paul Wright, McComb does much with his 48 pages and provides for us a book unparalleled for being brief, accurate and actually entertaining among reference publications. I can recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in the ships of the pre-war period as probably the handiest reference you'll ever find." - Terry Miller, Tin Can Sailors - National Association of Destroyer Veterans (January 2010)

About the Author

Dave McComb is a management consultant specializing in business process development. A lifelong student of World War II destroyer history, he has in recent years promoted the subject extensively via the web and numerous articles. He is president of the Destroyer History Foundation, which he organized in collaboration with World War II shipmates for the purpose of making original source documents accessible and preserving their perspectives and collections. The author lives in Bolton Landing, NY.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vincent P. O'Hara on February 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Osprey format-- many illustrations on 48 pages of text--doesn't give an author much range to roam "US Destroyers 1934-45: Pre-war classes" is remarkable in that it distills so much useful, even hard to find information into this format. An author can only do this when he knows his subject very well which Dave McComb clearly does.

McComb gives a succinct overview of the design and development philosophy and goals for these classes and then takes the reader on a class-by-class overview. Talking about the Dunlap, Bagley and Gridley classes, for example, we learn that these ships were built in haste to provide employment during the depression. They did not improve upon the preceding class because, with "20,000 engineering drawing already in use, Gibbs & Cox had neither the time nor the benefit of experience at sea on which to base any redesign." The book includes sections on modifications, new technologies like radar, and an extensive discussion of the operations and actions of these classes. About Vella Gulf, "Moosbrugger's division launched 24 torpedoes and turned away. `After what seemed like an eternity,' he wrote in his action report, the first three [Japanese destroyers] exploded and Simpson's division finished them off. Alert Shigure fired a return torpedo spread at Moosbrugger, which missed, took a dud hit in the rudder, make smoke, and escaped." This is a tight narrative that gives the reader the essence of the action and its results without wasting a precious word.

My favorite parts of the book are the many tables that give specifications, organization, modifications, hull numbers, awards and losses. I suspect, most readers would vote for the illustrations, however. The paintings are beautiful and the photographs give a good overview of the ships, the men, details and operations.

I recommend this book highly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on February 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Although the operations of the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers and submarines in the Second World War have attracted great attention over the years, it was the ubiquitous destroyers that actually provided the backbone of the fleet when their were few carriers available and the submarines were plagued by faulty torpedoes. In Osprey's US Destroyers 1934-45, destroyer specialist David McComb provides a wealth of information on the U.S. destroyer classes built between 1932-1942. These pre-war destroyers, comprising 169 ships in 11 classes, are not as well known as the war-time Fletcher-class, but these are the destroyers that formed the cutting edge of both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets in the early years of the Second World War. Overall, this is a very effective and concise summary which should prove very useful for naval buffs.

After a brief introduction that discusses the development of American inter-war destroyers and the post-World War One building holiday until 1932, McComb begins with a class by class synopsis. For each class, the author provides a brief summary of its development and lists all ships and hull numbers in a table. The author also makes several interesting comments about the pre-war destroyers, such as the superior quality of construction used, the decision to add Main Battery Directors and the risky decision to use high-pressure steam plants. Throughout these concise sections, the author's insight on the development of American destroyers is quite clear. The author then goes into a few pages on modernization of these destroyers, including radar and improved anti-aircraft defenses, but this section is a bit thin on detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Pedersen on September 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For its size, 48 pages overall, this book contains an amazing amount of information. Its only fault, if one could call it that, is that the author has tried to make the scope of the book too broad. The book has two main sections - Design and Development and Destroyers in Action. It is the second section that disappoints. There have been numerous books published, several still available, that detail US destroyer operations in World War II. Trying to distill them to 20 pages here only serves to slight the role they played and does not provide any new information to a naval history afficionado.

The first section by itself makes the purchase of this book worthwhile. McComb has done an excellent job summarizing the between-wars political climate and the effects of the Washington and London conferences on the navies of the world's major powers. Also included is a clear depiction of the US naval mindset of the times and the roles of key players in launching a modern US navy. The highlight of this section, and the part that makes this book outstanding, is the detailed description of the US pre-war destroyer classes. The development of each class is discussed along with the rationale behind the decisions that were made in their design, construction and armament. The evolution of one class into the next is clearly made evident and highlighted in several tables of dimensions and capacities. The included color profile drawings throughout the book are excellent; not only as art, but also as comparisons between the various classes and incidentally as depictions of the varieties of US naval camouflage schemes.

Overall, this is a book that will add to the library of any student of naval history value far beyond its actual size or cost. It should not be overlooked.
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