Soviet Cruise Missile Submarines of the Cold War...

... from Osprey Publishing

Title: Soviet Cruise Missile Submarines of the Cold War

Author: Edward Hampshire

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-2499-8

This makes for New Vanguard number 260 in the Osprey series and a 48 page book which I found really interesting reading.  If we take it that the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, that makes it nearly 30 years since the end of the Cold War.  Hence anyone under the age of their early thirties has little or no memory of what it was like to live through the period.  The Soviet submarine was one of the 'boogey men' of the time.  The black hulls of the numerous Soviet submarines were a significant threat.

The book looks quite specifically at those submarines designed to launch cruise missiles, rather than attack or ballistic missile subs.  They were, and perhaps still are, best known here in the west by their NATO reporting names, such as the Echo, Juliet, Papa and Whiskey classes among others.  What we are presented with here is the development and operational story behind the large numbers of these submarines that were built along with the Project numbers by which the Soviets knew them.  From the early post war days when the first cruise missile submarines were designed to launch nuclear weapons against land targets, though this changed when the Russian Strategic Missile force was created to take over that role, so the cruise missile boats were changed to concentrate on attacking the American carriers instead.  As a result, we get details of the assorted weapons systems used as well.  There are multiple tables throughout the book, detailing the submarines and the weapons, with details such as when and where they were built, and who by.

The other element of the story was the accidents they suffered, particularly from their nuclear power plants.  The loss of the submarine Kursk is probably the best known.  Politics within the Soviet Union/Russia also play a significant role in the story, and how much money was available to the submarine force.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, lack of funds led to many being scrapped, and this in turn has presented a problem with scrapping and disposal of old nuclear material.

Packed with detailed information on the boats and weapon systems, you can add the archive photos and a series of excellent colour artwork illustrations by Adam Tooby, well up to Osprey's usual high standards.  For anyone interested in the Cold War period, this will make for interesting reading.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.

Robin