My first dive into the world of Naval History was with this monograph on the US Navy’s PT boats.
I decided to do this monograph because I had loved PT boats ever since I was a small child and my family saw PT-109 at a drive-in theater in Williamantic, CT and then from re-runs of MCHALE’S NAVY when I was in Jr. High and High School. Over the decades, I learned a lot about the boats and I just wanted to share my knowledge about them with people. An interesting side-note to this monograph was that, within a month after its initial release in April of 1994, it sold over 25,000 copies world-wide.
The title has been since passed on to, by the publisher, another author and is currently out of print. However, surplus copies of my version can be found today on http://www.amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0897473124/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
Some people have said … “This book has a wonderful collection of photos from the Pacific, European and Mediterranean theaters in World War II. Many are in color, with detailed captions that will help any aficionado or modeler complete interesting and detailed replicas of PT Boats. Some of the more exotic armament modifications are covered in detail as well. A great addition to the naval historian’s collection on these oft overlooked and poorly understood patrol boats.” and … “An excellent addition to anyones collection on WW2 PT BOATS. It is chock full of great TEXT,PHOTO’s and Drawings…for the Model maker it is a “must have” for a person just getting started in naval history is it is a must…So you cant go wrong!”
My next monograph came out in 2000, and was titled VOSPER MTBs IN ACTION.
This monograph was a logical follow-on to the one on PT boats. Originally, it was my intention to do one on the small combatants of all of the nations involved in the Second World War, ie: the US, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, the former Soviet Union and Japan.
My research for this monograph allowed me to meet and become friends with a extremely nice gentleman named H. John Lambert. Mr. Lambert was a naval historian/author and draughtsman of considerable renown. I also took the opportunity to travel to England for a couple of weeks to do research for it. During these trips, I would meet up with John. He was extremely helpful to me in the production of the monograph. It was he who supplied many of the photos which were used as well as all of the line drawings. He also checked the text and made sure it was accurate. I often said that if it wasn’t for John, that monograph would have never been published. Some people have said, “A must for model makers, there are enough photo, color drawings to make even the most harden of model makers happy. It is a must buy. The quick history in the booklet will readers to purchase more books to learn more about the British Coastal Forces of WW2.” And, “Its a pretty good little book on Vosper boats. I have quite a few “in action” books on different ww2 subjects. This series is always a good summary with a lot of picture content, good captions and some small-medium size but informative sections on concept, design, propulsion, construction, use and armament. Nothing out of place or redundant. competently written.”
It took about five years and a few printing runs for it to sell 10,000 copies world wide. Unfortunately, the publisher has never republished it with a different author, but it is my second best selling monograph. Surplus copies of it can be found on http://www.amazon.com at:
My third IN ACTION monograph came out in 2003, and focused on the German Kriegsmarine’s Schnellboote of World War II:
This work was, like the one on the British Vospers, a logical evolutionary progression of the theme that I was attempting to create. However, it was to become my weakest seller. For the first and only time in my writing “career”, I took on a co-author to complete it. I decided to that because the person claimed to have been able to supply me with drawings from Germany which no other historian/author/history buff had seen. I sent the person’s “contacts” in Germany a lot of money for those drawings, but never received them. I even spent a whole day during a “holiday” in London, going from bank to bank getting the money to send to the person’s German contacts.
Still, with all of that hoopla going on, I did learn a lot of information on these craft and I was “happy” to have done it. Interestingly, my co-author contracted with the publisher to do a second edition of it in 2008 ~ which ~ supposedly ~ was going to have much more information in it. The only “new” information in it pertained to the uniform badges worn by the crews. Whereas that information could be of interest to a history buff, it would not be helpful to model builders, which are the audience which the IN ACTION monographs are targeted to. And, the information relating to the boats themselves was “cut and pasted” from the 2003 version. Some people have said, “
For those who are uninitiated regarding the Squadron Signal series of books, of which this is a part, they are geared primarily to those who have a very detailed interest in how the vessels looked (i.e., illustrators, model and diorama builders, etc.). There are a large number of contemporaneous photographs and line drawings. These line drawings and photographs are not only illustrations of the vessels in their entirety but there are also a significant number of close-ups of a minutia of items. These include light/signaling masts, binocular attack periscopes and attached computers used to plot torpedo paths, interior views, crewmen dress and medals, radar and radio antenna, depth charges, mines, etc., etc., etc. These cover every variation of this vessel, from the early prototypes to the final iterations of these vessels as well as those built for foreign navies (Spain and Bulgaria) and even little-known versions used on commerce raiders and that were considered for submarine-based launches (Leichte Schnellboots).
From the perspective of this book’s intended audience of illustrators and model builders this book is a gold mine. The only real weakness, from their perspective, is that it has a lack of color photographs (nearly all the pictures, as they are contemporaneous, are black and white). There are 4 pages of color plates but these are, as in all Squadron Signal books, only side views of the vessels. There are no color plates showing the tops, fronts, bows and sterns of these boats. This, however, is the only weakness for that audience. This shortage of color plates is more than made up by the large number of close up photographs of the items mentioned above.
As an added bonus, this book also has quite a bit of detail on a relatively sizeable number of non-illustrative points such as how the boats navigated, signaling, use of guns (i.e., in later versions the 37 and 40 mm stern guns were used to deter chases by enemy motor gun boats), smoke screen tactics, construction, engines, etc. Signal books, usually, have little of significance over and above how the topic covered looked like. But this one does. A very pleasant surprise.” And, “A well executed and photographically rich book, typical of most Signal Press published books. Photo quality is very good, and the underlying technical details are there. The Schnellboote were a surprisingly effective arm of the Kriegsmarine during the war, and sank a great deal of valuable shipping as well as many warships, mostly destroyers. as was the case with most German Naval vessels, there were never enough of them to be a deciding factor in the ensuing conflict. I recommend this book to naval Historians, modelers, and anyone interested in the War at Sea.”
Surplus copies of the 2003 version, which I feel is the better of the two, can be found on http://www.amazon.com at:
My last monograph for Squadron/Signal-MMD came out in 2009. It was on the US Navy’s 110′ Sub Chasers:
This monograph was done at the request of my mother to have me write it and get it published before my father, her husband, died of cancer. It was a real race against time, but it was done. A copy of it was buried with him. But, it was an uphill battle to get it done. The publisher was not being cooperative to say the least, and the original batch of photos from one source were totally un-usable at great cost to me. But, thanks to my good friend, B.G. “Chip” Marshall, I received better and clearer photos to use. A man who was of great help to me was Mr. Dan Treadwell, who during World War II, commanded SC-648 in New Guinea. He had written a book on his experiences and he became, prior to his death, the “go to guy” for those historians and history buffs interested in these interesting craft. He was a nice man as well. He told me that I did an excellent job.
Some people have said, “Great book about the planning and construction of the subchasers. Norway received three of these from the US Navy, and they performed so well for in the Shetland – Norway operations in the latter years of WW 2. We have managed to restore one of them, so it can still be seen by younger generations.” And, “An excellent booklet on one of the unsung hero vessels of WW2. The US Navy produce many of the 110′ wooden wonders. Here is a first rate booklet to talk about it’s history. Many photo’s drawing and color prints add much depth, I wish it could have done on for another 40 or 50 pages. For model makers or naval history lovers here is a chance to get a close up look at this wooden wonder.”
It might interest you who are thinking of acquiring this monograph ~ in World War One, my paternal grandfather served on two of the first incarnation of the type ~ known as the SC-1 Class, those being the SC-21 and the SC-253. My father, his son, served on the version which saw action in World War Two known as the SC-497 Class, the SC-699. An interesting story about the 699 once appeared in STAR AND STRIPES. Before my father was assigned to her in the Philippines, she operated in New Guinea. She was hit by a Japanese G4M “Betty” bomber, all of her superstructure right down to the deck was destroyed and many of her crew were killed. Those who survived saved her and she was rebuilt and went to be given to the Philippine Navy after the war. I think she was on active duty until the early 1980s.
The monograph only had one printing run of 5,000 copies and has not been reprinted. Surplus copies of it can be found on http://www.amazon.com at: