Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Dangers Hour: The story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikazi that crippled her


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 syscom3

syscom3

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,240 posts

Posted 03 October 2010 - 11:58 PM

Dangers Hour: The story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikazi that crippled her

Maxwell Taylor Kennedy
Simon & Schuster 2008

http://dangershour.blip.tv/#1292398

http://www.dangershour.com/index.html

This is an excellent book that is in effect, two different stories told in parallel. One is of CV-17, the USS Bunker Hill and her operations in the latter part of 1944 and early 1945. As this is being told, a story about the Kamikazi pilot is presented. Eventually both stories converge on the fateful morning on May 11 1945. When the Bunker Hill was hammered by two Kamikazi's.

The story on the Kamikazi's is well researched. The author used Japanese researchers and original sources to piece together the history and life of the pilot and what was happening with his "unit" as it trained and prepared for its final sortie.

The story about the Bunker Hill in the first part of the book, consists mainly on the experiences of the pilots, aircrew and support staff. Most of the information deals with the personal aspects of the air staff being aboard a carrier and flying sorties every day. This ultimately feeds back into the 2nd half of the book for when the carrier is hit and burning, what happens to the air group.

The second half deals with the two Kamikazi impacts and the resultant catastrophic explosions that nearly sunk the ship. The author interviewed many survivors to unfold a story that just captures a readers curiosity.
When it comes to the naval war of WW2, the aspects of being IN a warship that has major fires going on is not told frequently. The morbid details of what was happening to the crew is told without the author holding back punches.

Consider what any sailor trapped in a ship has to contend with: Poison gas inhalation, smoke inhalation that causes you to cough up parts of your lungs, inhalation of heated air, being in a compartment where you either get grilled or baked to death, let alone having exposure to flame. The expended water used in firefighting that fills compartments, and the electrocution hazards as water comes in contact with live power.

This book puts you right into the action, whether its the sailors trying escape the hazards all the way to the engineering crew who were trapped in the engine and boiler rooms and made sure power was not lost.

The final part of the book involves something that is rarely discussed about any ship that has survived heavy damage. The clean up and burials that follow. Nearly 400 of the ships crew perished that day. many burned or suffocated to death below decks. Every one of them had to be brought out and accounted for. This is as gruesome job as any sailor can have. But it was done. One cannot tell the story of any ship taking damage without the human element of the aftermath being discussed.

As with any book written decades after this war ended, the "bad" things about the USN had to be discussed. This was a sgregated navy, and it is impossible to discuss the ship without talking about navy policy regarding this. There also were design flaws on the Essex class carriers (early ones) that contributed to the near sinking of CV-17. This is also discussed.

My only complaint on this book, is it doesn't have deck and room diagrams so as a reader can understand what is happening in each part of the ship as the bomb and fires do their damage. This is a major omission in my opinion.

The website has lots of pictures and video clips. I highly recommend them to you.

I would say this book is a good addition to anyone's library who is interested naval warfare, or the airwar in the Pacific.

Posted Image
  • mikebatzel and indyjrt like this

#2 LRusso216

LRusso216

    Graybeard

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 10,207 posts
  • LocationPennsylvania

Posted 04 October 2010 - 12:57 AM

Good review. I agree with your sentiments. I read the book a few months back and enjoyed it immensely. It was especially useful since I am still acquiring a base of knowledge of the Pacific Theater. I think you are correct about diagrams. I constantly referred to the diagrams that are in the book, but they didn't give enough detail for me to completely picture the situation.

I believe it is a must read.

image001.png

Lou


#3 Takao

Takao

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,234 posts

Posted 04 October 2010 - 12:26 PM

When it comes to the naval war of WW2, the aspects of being IN a warship that has major fires going on is not told frequently. The morbid details of what was happening to the crew is told without the author holding back punches.


I would have to disagree, there have been several, most center on the USS Franklin(CV-13): "Saving Big Ben" by Peter J. Parato, "Inferno: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in WWII" by Joseph A. Springer, "Lucky Lady" by Steve Jackson. For more modern times: "Sailors to the End" by Gregory A Freeman and "Missile Inbound: The Attack on the Stark in the Persian Gulf" by Jeffery L. Levinson.


The final part of the book involves something that is rarely discussed about any ship that has survived heavy damage. The clean up and burials that follow. Nearly 400 of the ships crew perished that day. many burned or suffocated to death below decks. Every one of them had to be brought out and accounted for. This is as gruesome job as any sailor can have. But it was done. One cannot tell the story of any ship taking damage without the human element of the aftermath being discussed.

Again, this is not "rare" at all, even an old paperback copy of Reuben P. Kitchen's "Pacific Carrier"(about the USS Yorktown CV-10) went into rather grisly detail about the aftermath of the only bomb to hit the ship, "A Glorious Way To Die"(on the IJN Yamato) by Russell Spurr, as well as the books I have previously mentioned all go into similar detail.


My only complaint on this book, is it doesn't have deck and room diagrams so as a reader can understand what is happening in each part of the ship as the bomb and fires do their damage. This is a major omission in my opinion.

Again, most books like this do not have deck plans, the exception to this would be Freeman's "Sailors to the End", and that only had a flight deck schematic of the USS Forrestal showing the locations of the planes and where the bombs detonated. This is probably done in the interest of saving space. It could be done, but I would think the necessary level of detail would be lacking, not to mention the space that would have to be devoted to a legend for each deck. Look at the "Anatomy of the Ship: The Aircraft Carrier Intrepid" by John Roberts or the Warship Design Series volume "Essex Class Carriers" by Alan Raven, to see what is necessary for what you ask. I don't think a simple little map would do the book any good. Such books are usually written to make such deck plans superfluous and also the target audience likely already has a general knowledge of aircraft carriers further reasoning against a poor quality deck plan.


All in all, I agree with syscom3, this is an excellent work and should be part of any naval enthusiast's library. The author, succeeds not only in putting you in the action, as syscom3 has mentioned, but he also brings the ship and her crewmwen "alive." You get a feel for what it was like to have been stationed on an Essex class carrier during World War II and you get to know several members of her crew and Air Group. I found myself thinking, more than a few times, I hope this sailor/airman survives.

But what impressed me most about this book is the level of detail given to the one of the two Kamikaze pilots the strike the USS Bunker Hill, Kiyoshi Ogawa. Author Maxwell T. Kennedy has obviously devoted a lot of time and effort in researching Ogawa's past and it shows in this book. Most books that are similar to this one hardly mention the Kamikaze pilots, but Kennedy goes into great detail concerning Ogawa's life. I found this very refreshing, considering the relative lack of published works from the Japanese perspective during World War II.

#4 Takao

Takao

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,234 posts

Posted 05 October 2010 - 03:36 PM

syscom3,

With regards to drawings, did you see the two drawings in the back of the book, after the index? One of the island and the other a centerline cutaway showing most of the center of the ship. Or were you looking for something more detailed?

#5 syscom3

syscom3

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,240 posts

Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:42 PM

I was hoping for some overhead drawings of the decks. Since those have plenty of hallways and rooms, it would have given a better perspective of how the crew were trapped to their doom, or forced to look for alternative routes. It would have also been nice to note the locations for the bomb hit damage and where the most extensive fire damage was.

#6 LRusso216

LRusso216

    Graybeard

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 10,207 posts
  • LocationPennsylvania

Posted 05 October 2010 - 07:55 PM

Here are two links to books that might have what you are looking for.
Amazon.com: Essex-Class Carriers (Warship Design Histories) (9780870210211): Alan Raven: Books
Spring Styles Book # 3 (1939-1944), Lot S-511 -- Aircraft Carrier Preliminary Design Drawings

Let me know what you find out.

image001.png

Lou


#7 syscom3

syscom3

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,240 posts

Posted 05 October 2010 - 09:41 PM

Here are two links to books that might have what you are looking for.
Amazon.com: Essex-Class Carriers (Warship Design Histories) (9780870210211): Alan Raven: Books
Spring Styles Book # 3 (1939-1944), Lot S-511 -- Aircraft Carrier Preliminary Design Drawings

Let me know what you find out.


Nice to know, but it wasnt included in the book. And thats why I mentioned it because this is a review of it.

#8 Takao

Takao

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,234 posts

Posted 05 October 2010 - 11:01 PM

I think it is being a little unfair, since, very few, if any books of that type have what you ask. This is because the level of detail will be very poor, that is why you see only the basic line drawings, and even they are not very good. Still, a sketch of the flight deck layout including damage would have been nice.

Drawing from the USS Franklin's damage report, for example:

http://www.researche...uralSchem01.jpg
http://www.researche...uralSchem02.jpg
http://www.researche...uralSchem03.jpg
http://www.researche...uralSchem04.jpg
http://www.researche...uralSchem05.jpg
http://www.researche...uralSchem06.jpg

These are similar to what you are looking for, but as you can also see, is that much of the detail is lost and the names are mostly illegible. Further, the drawings are larger than the book, so the drawings would have to be further reduced, at an even greater loss of quality. As such, IMHO, the inclusion of such would add little to the work.

PS, "Anatomy of the Ship: The Aircraft Carrier Intrepid" by John Roberts is more finely detailed than the Warship Design Series volume "Essex Class Carriers" by Alan Raven

#9 syscom3

syscom3

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,240 posts

Posted 05 October 2010 - 11:50 PM

Good links. But it still doesn't explain away why the book didn't have simple diagrams of the floor plans of the decks. Especially the gallery rooms at the center and aft. Just a simple diagram, nothing complicated. Just a floor layout showing the passageways, the ready rooms and where the bomb detonated.

Remember, this is a book. As such it will in all probability be read where there is no internet availability.

It would have been nice to have an appendix to refer to showing these deck layouts, so as the reader can refer to them on what was being told in the chapters.

#10 LRusso216

LRusso216

    Graybeard

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 10,207 posts
  • LocationPennsylvania

Posted 06 October 2010 - 12:41 AM

I actually agree. When I read the book earlier, I was constantly referring to the drawings to see if I could discern what was being talked about. Even brief diagrams would have been helpful, especially to the nautically challenged, like me.

image001.png

Lou





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users