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BOOK REVIEW: Imperial Japanese Navy Heavy Cruisers 1941-1945

IJN CruisersBy Mark Stille, Osprey Publishing, 2011

Reviewed by Samuel Loring Morison

This book, number 176 in Osprey’s “New Vanguard” series discusses the construction, design and role of the six classes of Heavy Cruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and the equipment that they employed. The book also includes mid-war modifications. One thing the Japanese cruisers were well known for, compared to other countries cruisers, was their heavy torpedo armament and the fact that they could carry reloads. In 1938, all cruisers were fitted with the Japanese Type 93, Model 1, Mod. 2 torpedo, commonly known as the “Long Lance” torpedo. This was the best torpedo in the war on either side. One main fault of the design of these six class of cruisers was the lack of armor on the 8″ turrets. The armor totaled only 25-mm.

Built with a minimum amount of attention to the 1936 Naval Armaments treaty, the 18 ships of the six classes were the best cruisers at the beginning of the Pacific War, but as the war progressed they fell victim to U.S. Navy technology and cruiser construction. It is a smartly written book that contains a lot of detail for it’s length. The book is highly recommended.

Samuel Loring Morison is a free-lance journalist and Naval Historian. His current book War, an Intimate View: The War Diaries of Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, is in the publication cycle.

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