This action-packed narrative history of destroyer-class ships brings readers inside the half-inch-thick hulls to meet the men who fired the ships' guns, torpedoes, hedgehogs, and depth charges. Nicknamed "tin cans" or "greyhounds," destroyers were fast escort and attack ships that proved indispensable to America's military victories. Beginning with destroyers' first incarnation as torpedo boats in 1874 and ending with World War II, author Clint Johnson shares the riveting stories of the Destroyer Men who fought from inside a "tin can"—risking death by cannons, bombs, torpedoes, fire, and drowning.
The British invented destroyers, the Japanese improved them, and the Germans failed miserably with them. It was the Americans who perfected destroyers as the best fighting ship in two world wars. Tin Cans & Greyhounds compares the designs of these countries with focus on the old, modified World War I destroyers, and the new and numerous World War II destroyers of the United States.
Tin Cans & Greyhounds details how destroyers fought submarines, escorted convoys, rescued sailors and airmen, downed aircraft, shelled beaches, and attacked armored battleships and cruisers with nothing more than a half-inch of steel separating their crews from the dark waves.
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About the Author
Clint Johnson is an author and military historian whose books include The Politically Incorrect Guide to the South, Bull's-Eyes and Misfires: 50 Obscure People Whose Efforts Shaped the American Civil War, and Colonial America and the American Revolution.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Early Years: "Weather today fine, but high waves." 1
Chapter 2 World War I in Europe: "Do as much damage as possible." 17
Chapter 3 U.S. Enters the War: "We are ready now, sir!" 27
Chapter 4 The 1920s: "We have no destroyers today!" 45
Chapter 5 The 1930s: "A destroyer is not a likely target." 57
Chapter 6 Atlantic Theater 1939-1941:"Keep on engaging the enemy." 71
Chapter 7 Pacific Theater 1941: "Suddenly and deliberately attacked." 93
Chapter 8 Atlantic Theater 1942: "American beacons and searchlights visible at night." 105
Chapter 9 Pacific Theater 1942: "Courageous abandon against fearful odds." 123
Chapter 10 Atlantic Theater 1943: "Wiped out every exposed member of the sub's crew topside." 151
Chapter 11 Pacific Theater 1943: "Our losses for this single battle were fantastic." 165
Chapter 12 Atlantic Theater 1944: "Man on deck of sub attempting to man gun disintegrates." 193
Chapter 13 Pacific Theater 1944: "A fight against overwhelming odds from which survival can't be expected." 207
Chapter 14 Atlantic Theater 1945: "I think that is the end of the sub." 229
Chapter 15 Pacific Theater 1945: "The gates of hell awaited us." 241
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Bill Marsano. This perplexing book argues a la Rodney Dangerfield that destroyers “just don’t get no respect.” Hardly true. Destroyers did much, even most of the real slash-and-dash combat of World War II (World War I was still an era of fleet engagements), and so there are plenty of books on “destroyers at war,” books about specific squadrons, even about individual ships. Still, a book about destroyers is always welcome. For newcomers to 20th Century naval combat I'll give a generous 4 stars: this is a decent summary of all-out firefights as well as anti-sub actions, shore bombardments and open-ocean rescues in aid of grateful infant infantry and downed airmen, and perhaps it will lead them to a truly great destroyer book such as James D. Hornfischer’s “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” (which B&N also carries), the splendidly told tale of what I and many others consider the greatest naval triumph in U.S. Navy history. Just skip over the too many pages of armament details, launch dates and construction specs, too often repeated. That detail-dense aspect, however, makes for a 4-star book for geeks, who revel in numbers and minutiae that are eye-glazers to the rest of us. Those more conversant with the subject will, however, be disappointed. It's a 2-star book marred by numerous lapses that truly qualify as howlers: German’s Bismarck (50k tons, 15” guns) was not a “pocket battleship,” that was the Graf Spee (10k tons, 11” naval rifles) and five similar others. Roosevelt and Churchill did not meet aboard HMS Prince of Wales “docked” at Placentia but afloat in Placentia Bay. Another eyebrow raiser: the claim that the U.S. Navy originated and pushed for using convoys to reduce sinking by U-boats. Some of the battle reports are good enough, but others are a bit skimpy, and in at least one he omits the NAME of the battle. As a reference, the book is clumsy because of it ridiculous index: all battles are alphabetized under “Battle of,” all officers are alphabetized by rank not name; civilians are alphabetized by FIRST name. All in all, not destined to go down as a classic, and inadequate as what the author intends: a testament to the courage and resourcefulness of Tin Can Sailors. —Bill Marsano is a veteran writer and editor with an abiding interesting in naval warfare.