X.1: The Royal Navy's Mystery Submarine (Hardback)

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By Roger Branfill-Cook
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781848321618
Published: 21st January 2013
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The 'X' stood for experimental, but it might equally have meant extraordinary, exotic or extravagant, as this giant submarine attracted superlatives – the world's largest, most heavily armed, and deepest diving submersible of the day. X.1 was a controversial project conceived behind the backs of the politicians, and would remain an unwanted stepchild. As British diplomats at the Washington naval conference were trying to outlaw the use of submarines as commerce raiders, the Admiralty was designing and building the world's most powerful corsair submarine, to destroy single-handed entire convoys of merchant ships.

This book explores the historical background to submarine cruisers, the personalities involved in X.1's design and service, the spy drama surrounding her launch, the treason trial of a leading RN submarine commander, the ship's chequered career, and her political demise. Despite real technical successes, she would finally fall foul of 'black propaganda', aimed at persuading foreign naval powers that the cruiser submarine did not work; even today uninformed opinion repeats the myth of her failure. However, it was completely ignored by other navies, who went on building submarine cruisers of their own, some larger than, but none so sophisticated as, X.1. The book analyses in detail the submarine cruisers built by the US Navy, the French and the Japanese, plus the projected German copy of X.1, the Type XI U-Boat, paying belated tribute to the real importance of the mysterious X.1.

With all of the books published on warships and naval operations during the Twentieth Century, most new books are talking another look at a subject covered many times before by other authors. Then occasionally, a book is published that covers an important warship that has somehow managed to escape serious coverage before. This new book is one of those rare new books. The author has written an engaging account of the development and operations of the x-1. The text is enhanced but very good illustration in the form of photographs and drawings, spread through the body of the book.

Firetrench

Naval operations in World War Two began on the first day of the conflict and continued until the September 3, 1945, surrender ceremony on the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63). These operations were a complex series that interconnected in a way that land an air battles seldom approached. Since maps can convey both space and time in an understandable fashion, an atlas is a very good way to tell the history of the war at sea between September 1939 and September 1945. The maps in this volume are areranged chronologically so it can be read as a history of the naval war. But each indivdual map is self-contained, so any map can be used as a reference to the particular operation it covers.

The maps are in color, which allows color-coding of different forces for easy identification. There is a block of text with each map that provides details relevant to the map, and a full-page table explaning the symbols and abbreviations used throughout the book. Some are specific to the ships of a particular navy and there are generic symbols for ships such as escort carriers, landing ships and merchatmen in general. The maps themselves vary in coverage. For example, the very first map shows the different British Navy stations worldwide at the start of the war along with the types and numbers of ships assigned to each. There are similar maps for the French Navy, German Navy, Italian Navy and a map that covers the ships in British home waters in late 1939. Individual battles are covered with one or several maps from the Battle of the River Plate (one map) to the German invasion of Norway (6 maps).

Additional maps showing strength and locations of the naval forces of Italy, Japan and the United States are provided when the chronology reaches those countries' date of entry in the war. Also, many battles and operations are included that don't always get much attention, such as the 6 March 1943 battle in Blackett Strait in the Solomon Islands. Throughout this book details have been carefully checked with post-war research to provide as accurate a picture of the events described as possible. However, on page 185 there is an error both in the text and on the map when it is said the U. S. destroyers Dunlap (DD-384), Craven (DD-382) and Maury (DD-401) launched thirty-six torpedos in one salvo at a force of four Japanese destroyers. In fact, those three U. S. destroyers could only launch a total of twenty-four torpedos in one direction at one time.

The fact that the pages are nine inches by twelve and a half inches lets the maps and texts be an easily-readable size, and the coverage is so extensive that every serious student of World War Two at sea will find this a highly useful book to have. It is packed with information in an easy to use format, and is well worth the purchase price. (RPS)

Warships International US

The illustrations include fourteen detailed drawings of interiors of the X.1 that have better detail than any photograph, and the numerous plans and drawings give the reader a thorough visual description of this unusual and unique British submarine. Anyone who already has the excellent book on the Japanese I.400 class “submarine aircraft carries” will want to have this book on the biggest conventional British submarine as well.

RPS

As the author so able demonstrates, at the time of her completion X.1 was the worlds largest, most heavily armed and deepest-diving submersible of its day.

MARINE NEWS

Grabs the reader's attention from the start.

Nautical Research Journal

A very comprehensive and detailed history of the submarine, well-illustrated and with many plans and drawings.

The Mariner's Mirror

About Roger Branfill-Cook

ROGER BRANFILL-COOK is a professional translator from French into English specialising in historical and military works, and a qualified battlefield guide. He has written numerous articles for specialist magazines and is both a novelist and an author of non-fiction books. He has recently helped create an English version of a major encyclopedia on FRENCH ARMOURED VEHICLES.

Perfect Partner

The History of the British U Class Submarine (Hardback)

Originally designed in 1934 for anti-submarine training, by the end of the war 72 U-Class subs had been commissioned; 17 were lost to the enemy, and 3 in accidents. Manned by crews from seven nations' navies, they served worldwide, and never more successfully than in the Mediterranean. This book is the definitive study of this class of submarine and the men who serve on them.

By Derek Walters

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