The Best of Don Winslow of the Navy: A Collection of High-Seas Stories from Comics’ Most Daring Sailor – Review

The All-American Hero – Don Winslow

It was an unexpected surprise. A parcel from the US Naval Institute Press was waiting for me at the Post Office and I had already received the batch of books I was expecting as well as the model ships that were on order. I wondered what it was but as it was raining here, I could not open the parcel to examine the contents until I got back to the office. What a great surprise.

Edited by Craig Yoe and published by Dead Reckoning in September, 2018, the copy I received was forwarded by the U.S. Naval Institute and was the hardcopy of the book. The book is 272 pages long, with ISBN-13: 9781682473238 and is sized at 8.5 X 11 in.

There are, I believe, a Kindle and ePDF (ePub?) version as well.

The back cover – from here it is obvious the style of the content

Who was Don Winslow? The character was first created in 1934 as a newspaper comic strip by Lt. Cdr. Frank Victor Martinek USNR. As this was the period between wars, his erstwhile enemy at this time was a supervillain simply known as “The Scorpion”.

Winslow was noted as being “tall, stalwart, handsome,, all-America, moral, strong, intelligent – in other words, perfect in every way!”

Whether Don Winslow was created as a bit of fun (hobby) or to assist in the recruitment of young men into the U.S. Navy is problematic. What is known is that Don Winslow battled evil in all its forms with intelligence, bravado, and his faithful sidekick, Lt. Red Pennington! Don’s best girl was Mercedes Colby, daughter of retired Admiral Colby and sometime nurse. Don and Red bounced around Asia battling The Scorpion’s evil plans along with the infamous pirate Singapore Sal (you could tell she was a pirate as she had a skull and crossbones on her hat 😁) until Worlld War 2 came along and they could battle the Nazis and Japanese.

Don escaping the Japanese trap (I think)

Don Winslow was made into a radio serial in 1937 and the comic lasted until 1957 when it finally disappeared from the King Features stable.

The book is full of action packed Don Winslow comics as he and Red face-off against the full variety of nefarious enemies in the best pulp fiction manner. My personal favourite nemesis is Singapore Sal. There are 26 comics included (28 if you could the three part Death for Sale separately). Comics such as:

  • The Stolen Battleship
  • Don Winslow of the Navy Climbs Mt Everest
  • Don Winslow of the Navy meets Singapore Sal
  • The Return of Singapore Sal
  • Messenger of Death, and
  • The Doomed Atoll

to name a few!

Don Winslow is really likely only to be familiar to readers from the US as unlike heroes such as the Phantom, Winslow was very much an American here (the Phantom was very much everyone’s hero).

Having said that, I have enjoyed returning to the 1930s and 1940s courtesy of the Craig Yoe’s collection of Don Winslow of the Navy comics – back to a time when heroes wore white and had strong jaws and evil villains were clearly evil villains.

 

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Strategy and Tactics – Fail Safe: Nuclear Warfare in the Cold War

ST283M-2I remember the Cold War. Seeing the title of issue 283 of Strategy & Tactics when I took it out of the envelope in the elevator heading back up to the apartment last night brought back some memories.

I can remember life in the early 1970s in particular, the Cold War was well underway and at that time it was not clear who was winning. At that time many of us thought it was better not to win the Cold War as we didn’t want to upset the other guy – after all, they were always considered a bit unstable in the eyes of the Free World.

Ban the Bomb, protests against stationing US Nuclear Forces in Britain, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the gulags, so many memories flooding back in. Really, it had me feeling that Generation X and Generation Y never understood the stress of being a Baby Boomer.

Fail Safe ((now there is another term fresh from the Cold War that takes on a whole new meaning these days)) is a look at the manned bombers carrying nuclear weapons in the period 1945 to 1960 and the story of the doctrine that directed and restricted their use. For another view on that, I can thoroughly recommend watching Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. That really caught the mood of the time well and is a superb black comedy. The article in S&T however has some really neat photographs of some of the nuclear capable aircraft of the time – I can almost feel another wargaming period coming on!

In this issue also is a look at Saladin – not so much the chivalrous warrior this time but more the ruthless contender reaching for power.

Pontiac_conspiracy
The Pontiac Conspiracy

In 1763, after the British had won the French-Indian Wars, Fort Pitt was besieged by a confederation of Indians unhappy with British rule and the policies of General Jeffrey Amherst in particular. This was the decisive battle in what became known as Pontiac’s War. Pontiac was an Ottowa Indian and leader of the confederation.

At this battle, British officers at Fort Pitt attempted to infect the besieging Native Americans with smallpox – an early example of biochemical warfare. The plan was to send blankets exposed to the smallpox virus to the Indians and hope it caught. The article also looks at the Battle of Bushy Run where the British did manage some effective infantry tactics.

There is an examination of Tulagi, the August 1942 landing on Tulagi to support the Guadalcanal landings.

Other notes and articles this month deal with the birth of the Roman Navy; Japan’s rise to naval dominance; submarines in the Gallipoli Campaign; and a piece on Admiral George Stephen Morrison (father of singer Jim Morrison of the Doors fame) and one of the commanders of the US naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin at the opening of the Vietnam War when North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked US Navy warships.

Another good read coming up over the next few nights. I do enjoy this magazine, even without the game it is good value for money and any of the games that are interesting can be purchased later anyway. In fact, after a quick read of the Cold War piece I am starting to consider that as a board game to add to the collection.

PLAN – Chinese Navy – Part 1

The PLAN fleet is stuck to bases and labels affixed to the underside with the vessel's name
The PLAN fleet is stuck to bases and labels affixed to the underside with the vessel’s name

I posted a while back about the Indian Navy – Part 1 I was building in 1/3000th scale for use with the Shipwreck! modern naval wargame rules. Their erstwhile opponents, at this stage, will be the People’s Liberation Army Navy of the People’s Republic of China (PLAN). Whilst at the moment these two powers seem to be on reasonably peaceful terms, there is still a number of border questions to be resolved, not to mention the Kashmir. The two nations have traded blows before so a scenario where a PLAN blue water fleet starts causing economic havoc to India in the Andaman Sea is not such a far fetched scenario.

The PLAN is therefore my second modern fleet from Navwar and I decided to get started on getting it ready for painting. I have started painting the Indians – more on that in a later post – but before finishing them I wanted to get the next batch ready. This was partly bought about by recent events after a trip to Jakarta where everything I tried to do was interrupted with me having to go to the smallest room in the apartment … frequently!

As with the Indians, the first step was out to the Internet and find out some details on the vessels that I had purchased. I had purchased a fleet pack from Navwar which comes with an assortment of vessels, some of which are no longer commissioned and iin one case, a packet of two vessels where only one vessel was built (the Jinan).

My PLAN Fleet ready for painting - the Chinese carrier is big compared to the Indian carrier ... but small compared to a USN carrier.
My PLAN Fleet ready for painting – the Chinese carrier is big compared to the Indian carrier … but small compared to a USN carrier.

While looking for information and pictures of the vessels I discovered a couple of things about PLAN vessels. One is that due to the sometimes unstable political environment of China in the past, some vessels had been named, then had the name replaced by a hull number, the renamed again with a name different to the first name. Now I think the PLAN stick with safer things such as names of provinces etc.

I also discovered that the Chinese vessels appear not to have crests. I therefore have just used the PLAN ensign on the labels. The labelling can be seen above.

The next step will be the painting process. For that, like the Indians, I will be undercoating the vessels in white, washing in black ink, painting the sea base then starting to paint with a heavy dry-brush in a mid to light grey.

Exactly what shade of grey to use is academic. Whilst I could, for example, try to get a paint chip and match to that colour, the appearance of the vessel changes depending on the ambient lighting. So a vessel with full on midday sunshine reflecting off its surfaces can appear almost pure white rather than the light grey we know the PLAN vessels to be painted in. A good example of colour variation can be seen in the two pictures at the bottom of this post.

The spare ship can be seen at the right of the picture above.

The two images below are taken 6 months apart in different parts of the world – note that the USS George H W Bush looks almost white in this image whilst the USS Denver is obviously a light grey. In the case of the Singapore Navy vessels there is clearly a bigger shade difference. It may well be that the one in the left hand photograph is a darer grey but it is not easy to tell from photographs.

Gulf of Thailand (Feb. 20, 2011) –  The amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver passes along side an Endurance Class Singapore Navy ship Resolution (LPDM 208) during Cobra Gold 2011. Denver is part of the forward-deployed Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is underway participating in Cobra Gold, a multinational military exercises co-sponsored by U.S. and Thailand, designed to ensure regional peace and stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Geronimo C. Aquino /Released)
Gulf of Thailand (Feb. 20, 2011) – The amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver passes along side an Endurance Class Singapore Navy ship Resolution (LPDM 208) during Cobra Gold 2011. Denver is part of the forward-deployed Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is underway participating in Cobra Gold, a multinational military exercises co-sponsored by U.S. and Thailand, designed to ensure regional peace and stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Geronimo C. Aquino /Released)
Arabian Sea (Nov. 15, 2011) Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) steams alongside the Singaporean Landing Ship Tank, RSS Endeavour (LST: 210), in the Gulf of Aden.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kasey Krall/Released)
Arabian Sea (Nov. 15, 2011) Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) steams alongside the Singaporean Landing Ship Tank, RSS Endeavour (LST: 210), in the Gulf of Aden. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kasey Krall/Released)

Nuship Canberra

A tour of what will become HMAS Canberra when it is completed and commissioned.

This video gives a good look around the Nuship Canberra at its current state of completion. Nuship Canberra is the first of the Landing Helicopter Dock ships (LHD) and is currently under construction at the BAE Systems Williamstown Shipyard at Port Phillip Bay. The ship is due to commence sea trials in late 2013.

Ski jump flight deck for helicopters? Hmm, apparently she’ll have the ability to operate 18 aircraft but which aircraft?