As an obsessed student of WW II since childhood, the truism stands valid; no matter how much one studies, devours, learns, understands, there is always “more” out there about what was arguably the largest single “event” in human history, simultaneously encompassing the entire globe and leaving residuals and repercussions which continue to affect humanity. Those fateful years of about 1930 to 1950 left indelible marks, benefits…and scars.
Occasionally, untapped subjects and new information arises about the era, refreshing “breaths of fresh air” from endlessly rehashed, even “trite” streams of data on Messerschmitt Bf 109s, Tiger tanks and the battleship Yamato.
Such a 2016 Spring whiff of fresh air is well-known author on small naval units, Tim Connelly’s latest literary effort, Sub Busters: Wheeler-Built 83-foot Patrol Cutters in World War II, a welcome piece of veritably untapped material about The War.
Continually amazing to this admittedly jaded point-of-view is how enormous, focused whelming and efficient, was USA design, procurement and production of war material in that fateful era (roughly 1939 to 1946), totally without computers!!!!!
A well-known accomplishment of American industry during WW II was constructing a mighty-beyond-description fleet which in size and capability, exceeded the combined navies of the rest of the world.
While students of US WW II naval matters freely acknowledge; the aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers, escorts, cruisers, battleships, fleet and T-2 oilers, LSTs, Liberty / Victory ships and Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs) DID the really big jobs of winning the war at sea…
…veritably no “print and plastic” is devoted, reference material and model-kits-wise, to the VAST “supporting cast” which is always in the “popular ships’” shadow.
One such largely unknown type is this book’s subject, the humble 83-foot Patrol Cutters, an American contemporary of the Royal Navy’s Fairmile Motor Launches.
Tim Connelly applied his fascination with small combatant watercraft and skills as researcher to this latest tome, probably the only current book on the subject. THIS is the definition of NEW material!
Summary and spoiler alert: the 83-foot Patrol Cutters were the result of frantic expediency, built fast and in substantial number (230 !!!! plus a few more for the USN) for the US Coast Guard (though many served under other flags). Constructed of wood, all by the same builder, to the same general design…all are now gone, save one museum-boat.
While the 83-footers were in service, though they did not sink any Japanese battleships or rid the seas of predatory U-Boote, the “matchstick fleet” performed unsung, locally vital service, in both theatres of The War. Coastal escort, harbour patrol, inshore patrol, rescue, distress-assistance, landing craft control, submarine-hunting; all were among the little boats’ and their young US Coast Guard’s crewmen’s duties.
Author expertise with small naval units and skills as researcher-presenter comes through in a concise, informative volume garnished throughout with tasty, juicy photos, drawings, plans, lists and yummy, informative text (especially about the boats at Normandy).
C’mon, like where else are y’ gonna get multiple illustrations of and data about a Maxim-Nordenfeldt 1-Pounder (originally planned as “main battery”), 7.2-inch rocket on a Mousetrap launcher or Mk VI Depth Charge? Or pics and specs of Hall-Scott Defender or Sterling Viking II, 600 HP gasoline engines?
And check this out; a looonnng list of the boats and bits on their history and fate!
All in the same place!? Right in this book; nowhere else.
Before you now-subject-inspired watercraft modelers raise your X-Acto-scarred hands to ask where to get a kit of these interesting little craft, here’s that previously-advertised spoiler; there are no kits of a Wheeler 83-footer. Sorry. Hard cheese, there. However, lose ye not hope (let alone, screw up your faces and cry); the old Lindberg 95-foot Coast Guard Patrol boat in 1/82 scale is not impossible for a veteran plastic-eer ship modeler (y’ gotta boldly go far beyond being a “kit-assembler”) to convert into a reasonable 1/72 Wheeler 83-footer.
Or, because the subject is so interesting, a scratchbuild of a Wheeler 83-Footer would sure get a gob of attention at IPMS Nats or any other exhibition of nautical pretties!
Thanks to the comments about the book from Al Bubnis and comments from Dr. Ross, I have revamped, resized and corrected the USCG 83-foot Cutter book and had it put out again. it's on Amazon for $17.18.
Specifics so you can purchase this fine bit of nautical WW II history on a tres’ unique boatsy subject? Here y’ go. CLICK FOR LINK TO AMAZON
Review© March, 2016
by James Hood
Author, Adventure—Into The Neverland