The authors have provided a beautifully illustrated account of the Japanese Navy’s experiments with aircraft-carrying submarines and the only bombing attack ever to be carried out on the Continental United States.
NAME: Kugisho E14Y Glen, The aircraft that bombed America, Whit Series No 9116
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Ryusuke Ishiguro, Tadeusz Januszewski
PUBLISHER: NNP Books
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Submarine aircraft carriers, submarines, light attack planes, naval bombers, Japanese Navy, M Class submarines, J Class submarines, Ko 2 Go Class, Otsu 1-Go Class, Glen, E14Y, E6Y1, E9W1
DESCRIPTION: The authors have provided a beautifully illustrated account of the Japanese Navy’s experiments with aircraft-carrying submarines and the only bombing attack ever to be carried out on the Continental United States.
The publisher has produced a fine range of books on Polish subjects and for the model making and model engineering community. From early books that were primarily aimed at modellers, MMPBooks have developed a rare and very welcome form of special interest book. This latest addition to the range, in the White Series is a very good example of how an effective and well written history of an aircraft can be combined with outstanding photographs, sketches and drawings can tell a story in great detail that may be found no where else. There are full colour drawings that provide detail of markings and colour schemes. There are also very detailed line drawings accurately produced to a declared scale. Everything that a model maker would need to produce a high quality scale model of great accuracy. The photographs are outstanding and will provide what both modellers and aviation enthusiasts value highly. The text is concise but also detailed.
Several navies experimented with a range of submarines to duplicate the typical range of surface vessels. The Royal Navy built its M Class, K Class, and X Class in very small numbers before abandoning the concept to concentrate on submarines that attacked under water with torpedoes. The M Class began as submarine battleships with a single heavy main gun. Work was then conducted to modify a gun-equipped N Class to produce a submarine to carry a small Peto reconnaissance aircraft in a watertight hanger in place of the gun room. The X Class carried two twin gun turrets similar to a light cruiser. The K Class were steam-powered on the surface and intended to sail with the surface fleet, requiring steam turbines to keep up with the surface ships. The French Navy tried a submarine that included a twin turret armed as for a heavy cruiser and carried a seaplane. The Japanese were aware of these developments, particular the RN development work which began in WWI when Japan was allied to Britain.
All of these developments proved unsuccessful to some degree. The M2 sank with all hands when someone failed to secure the hanger doors before diving. The M1 experienced difficulties in achieving the intended firing rate, reloading submerged and then semi-surfacing to fire at a target. The K Class suffered a string of disasters and were uncomfortably hot because the boilers could be secured for diving but still contained high temperature and high pressure steam with the heat dissipating slowly. The X Class were closer to being successful, although the two twin turrets suffered a number of problems. It is therefore not surprising the Britain and France halted their development programs to concentrate on submarines that used the torpedo as the primary weapon and retained deck guns and cannon only for small low value f=targets and defence against aircraft when surfaced.
The Japanese were not deterred by the difficulties experienced in Europe and embarked on a sustain development program to build large submarines that could operate with torpedoes, but which were equipped to carry aircraft and/or midget submarines. As submarines, the vessels were conventional but larger than those in service with Britain, Germany, or the US. During the attack on Pearl Harbour, a number of these large submarines were used as a defensive screen ready to torpedo any US warship that might pursue the Japanese carriers as they withdrew after their successful attacks on Pearl Harbour. After that date, the submarines were used on a number of reconnaissance missions to American islands and to Australia, including a flight over Sydney. Had the US not deployed increasingly effective radar, it is likely that much greater use would be made of reconnaissance floatplanes by the Japanese. When an aircraft was detected, it gave no clear indication of what vessel it had flown from or where that vessel might be located. Improving radar allowed the US Navy to identify submarines that had surfaced to fly off or recover floatplanes, or recharge batteries. That resulted in Glens flying off for an otherwise successful reconnaissance, only to find that their host submarine had been sunk and they had nowhere to land.
Submarine I-25 launched its Glen on a reconnaissance and bombing mission to Oregon. The bombing attack was not even a pin prick because the bombs were dropped on he forested Wheeler ridge and could have gone completely unnoticed. A forest ranger had spotted a small unidentified aircraft and then noticed a trial of white smoke from a small forest fire. When the ranger reached the area he recovered some 30lb of bomb fragments that were identified as Japanese.
The authors have devoted space to the story of the submarines as well as of the reconnaissance floatplanes that were developed into the monoplane Glen. A considerable amount of information has been packed into the pages around the exceptional illustrations. This is an excellent value book that will be much appreciated by modellers but also be a much wider readers who will appreciate the historical review that forms an important part of the book.