Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Review - GATO-Class Submarines In Action

Book Review
Gato-Class Submarines In Action
By Robert C. Stern
Color by Don Greer
Published by Squadron/Signal Publications
Carrollton, TX

Disclaimer – I have been a customer of Squadron, a mail-order plastic model company longer than I’ve been married. Way back when (1976), Squadron Mail Order was the ONLY source of models, supplies, and books for a young boy in rural northwest Arkansas (I didn’t even meet my (then) future wife until 1983). I STILL eagerly await the arrival of their catalogs in my mailbox, even though I have MANY more options (I just got a box from Poland, via the Internet).

Squadron/Signal is the publishing arm of Squadron Mail Order, and I have purchased most, if not all, of their naval titles (and many non-naval ones to boot).

Gato-Class Submarines in Action is #28 in their “Warships in Action” series. Like the others, it is 48 pages, with color covers (front and back) and four pages of color plates in the center.

This title starts with two pages of submarine history, covering 40 years of American submarine development. The next 38 pages cover not just the wartime development of the Gato-Class, but also the Balao- and Tench-classes, which are incorrectly identified as “sub-classes” of the Gato-class (they were, in fact, distinct and separate classes, and are identified as such in all other references).

The last few pages of the book are devoted to the many Postwar conversions of these submarines (25 years in 5 pages). Unfortunately, one of the few significant errors in this book appears in this section, when the hull configuration of a GUPPY IIA submarine is incorrectly described, especially when a correct description would have been easily to obtain.

The authors do a great service in describing the long and storied career of USS Barb (SS 220), a Gato-class boat that served during WWII, accumulating the 3rd highest total of enemy ships sunk. Barb served in the U.S. Navy during the Cold War years of the 50s, and was modernized in 1954 and transferred to the Italian Navy in 1954, serving as the Enrico Tazzoli until 1972. Four detailed pictures, showing each stage of Barb’s career, are shown.

This book is a good reference for the plastic model builder, its intended audience (a 1/72 scale Gato-class model having just been released). With better editing, it could have been a GREAT reference for both historians and modelers.


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