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by Richard N. Billings
Cover Price: $20
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How the Sinking of a Single Japanese
Submarine Assured The Outcome of World War II
Account of the Japanese submarine I-52, which American warplanes sank in June 1944 off the Cape Verde Islands. The author claims submarine I-52 was transporting two tons of gold bullion to Germany as payment for Nazi weapons and 500 kilograms of uranium oxide. Billings asserts that the purchase was part of a Japanese plan to drop a radiological (dirty) bomb on Los Angeles or San Francisco in a desperate attempt to stave off defeat. The Germans finally shipped the uranium oxide in April 1945 on board the submarine U-234, which surrendered to the USS Sutton on May 15 in the south Atlantic. This makes for an intriguing tale, but the evidence to support it is thin—the I-52's gold was never found and Japanese atomic bomb experimentation is unconfirmed. Billings compensates by eking drama out of salvager Paul Tidwell's unsuccessful efforts to recover the gold after he discovered the I-52 in 1995, and by padding the account with extraneous details of WWII military history. Billings, a former Life magazine editor and author (Schirra's Space), raises important questions, but doesn't provide convincing answers.
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