faulty If you are a student of WWII like me, you might enjoy this book. A very quick read. Lots of pictures and maps. Some very interesting stories about the US's submarine warfare efforts in the Pacific.
There are nice stories about sub mascots and ice cream machines, and there are not so nice stories of pointless and pointed deaths.
I have seen every notable submarine movie ever made. Some of them are ridden with false clichés, and others are very accurate. One of the best is Run Silent, Run Deep. It reflected a mélange of submarine realities.
Some notables from the book:
In Run Silent, Run Deep, Clark Gable plays an obsessed skipper determined to kill a certain destroyer with a "down the throat shot" (meaning "bow on"). One submarine actually did pull this off.
When a sub "buttons up" for a dive, high pressure air is released into the sub. If the sub holds the air pressure, it is generally good to go on the dive. The "Christmas tree" (a bank of lights -- green on US subs, white on German -- indicating the sub's water-tightness) would not show a green dive light if it did not.
Some subs actually had mascots (puppies etc) that they kept hidden from the skipper... In one case, until he literally stepped in it.
One submarine actually killed itself with a faulty torpedo that boomeranged.
There actually was a guy who has his appendix removed by a pharmacists mate while at sea.
Subs never "crash drive". In wartime, all dives are combat dives and are done as fast as possible... every time.
Perhaps the first four torpedoes fired by a US sub in the war (fired by the Seawolf) all failed to detonate. This was the start of the Mark XIV (Roman numerals… Jeez!) torpedo issue. Operation Pacific (a John Wayne movie) deals with the subject matter but gets all the details wrong. The Mark XIV was designed with a magnetic detonator. It was meant to pass under the keel of a ship and then explode, breaking the ship's back (this is similar to the way the famous dam-buster bombs worked). Unfortunately, the Mark XIV torpedoes had issues with maintaining the proper running depth. They often ran 11 feet too deep, failing to explode. This issue lasted for two years! How would you like to be sent into a shoot out knowing that a high percentage of your bullets are blanks. It took a determined naval officer to get the powers that be to even admit there was a problem.
Notable boats discussed: Seawolf, Tang, Wahoo, and Trigger.
The book is full of photos. It is a very quick read. World War II shaped the modern world. Everyone should respect the men who fought and won this largest and most important of all wars.
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Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.