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US Destroyers 1934–45: Pre-war Classes

US Destroyers 1934–45: Pre-war Classes Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review June 2012 Title US Destroyers 1934–45: Pre-war Classes
Author Dave McComb Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2010 ISBN 9781846034435
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $17.95


For over a century, agile, “all-purpose” destroyers aimed, as this volume reveals, to “protect the fleet from enemy torpedo boat attacks and to attack offensively with their own torpedoes”.

Yet another excellent introduction from Osprey Publishing, US Destroyers 1934–45: Pre-war classes outlines the development and operations of all 169 ships of ten classes introduced – under multiple treaties constraints – in the 1930s.  And with these warships, the US Navy entered World War II.

Text traverses the total tale.  After useful introductory notes, the author recaps the design and development of the early 1,500-tonners, 1,850-ton destroyer leaders, 1,570-ton Sims class, and 1,620- and 1,630-ton Benson and Gleaves classes.

Coverage then courses – battle-by-battle – through wartime operations in the Pacific and Atlantic.  Nearly 25% were sunk or damaged beyond repair.  But vital advancements in radar and antiaircraft defenses – developments ultimately applied to wartime US destroyer construction – vastly enhanced the capabilities of these compact combatants.

Photos, illustrations, and bibliography supplement author McComb’s excellently indexed effort.  Enthusiasts will find it a superb summary of a spellbinding subject.


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!