Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Sinking Force Z

 I have been reading 'Sinking Force Z 1941', a recent release from Osprey. It was written by Angus Konstam, who as well as being a prolific author on a variety of subjects - I think the last of his books I read was on the Barbary Pirates - was also the winner of the largest wargame in which I have ever played. My interest in the events covered is mainly because my uncle was present as a crew member of one of the escorting destroyers.

Although understandably focussed on the events from December 8th to 10th 1941, it also provides extensive background on how and why Force Z came to be there, and on the design and capabilities of both the Royal Navy ships involved and the Japanese bombers which attacked them. There are lavish illustrations, by Adam Tooby, and plenty of maps, diagrams and photographs. It could possibly have done with another run through by a proof reader, but overall is an impressive publication.

It forms part of Osprey's 'Air Campaign' series, and the central premise is that it marks the point that naval supremacy definitively switched from battleship to aircraft carrier. Indeed the subtitle is 'The day the Imperial Japanese Navy killed the battleship'. The argument is well made, and it was apparently the first time that more than one capital ship had been sunk at sea by aircraft alone, although as so often with history one wonders about the counterfactuals. In any event, the battleship's time had at least begun to run out by then.

There was one other interesting point for me. I knew that Pearl Harbor took place on December 7th and the invasion of Malaya on December 8th. What I had never appreciated was that events in Malaya started an hour before those in Hawaii. The explanation is, of course, the International Date Line, which, despite me being renowned for my expertise on the rotation of the earth, is something that it had never occurred to me to consider before. I feel foolish.

No comments:

Post a Comment