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Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

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  • Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

    Carriers at War 1939-1945 by Adrian Stewart,
    Published by Pen & Sword ISBN9781781591567


    The dawn of a new age in naval warfare arrived in the early part of the 20th century when rudimentary aircraft were able to get airborne from vessels such as the USS Birmingham, the French TB tender Foudre, HMS Hibernia, HMS Campania and finally HMS Furious. These names among many chart the child like steps towards the famous aircraft carriers of WW2 that still resonate down the decades-such ships as HMS Ark Royal, USS Lexington, USS Enterprise and finally to the modern day nuclear behemoths operated by the USN.

    In this publication the author concentrates on the myriad of combat actions which framed the global naval aspect of WW2, and which saw the previous Queens of the Ocean, the Battleship, usurped and relegated to a supporting role, by the new Queen of the Oceans the Aircraft Carrier.
    The various significant naval actions & campaigns in which aircraft carriers played a serious or pivotal role are duly covered. From the earliest days of the war, when the RNís converted carriers were found wanting, to the daring raid on the Italian fleet in Taranto, ferrying supplies to Malta and fleet actions in the Mediterranean Sea are all covered. From there we move to Pacific where Carrier warfare reached its zenith. Here we visit the well known sea lanes off Pearl Harbour, Midway, Guadalcanal and Leyte Gulf. In tandem to these events the author notes the equally important development of the various aircraft types flown from the carriers. The role of the escort carriers is duly noted and how these vessels helped defeat the German U-Boat menace and partook in numerous support operations worldwide. Brief mention is also made of the hybrid vessel types such as CAM/FCA/MACís and their various roles.

    All of the above is contained within 10 Chapters (each having Chapter notes), supported by some 16pages of B/W photographs and some 6 maps. The book has a Bibliography that only seems to list secondary sources! I was surprised that both David Hobbs & Peter Smiths excellent books on the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) were absent from the bibliography, and given that that the BPF is discussed in the final chapter, there absence is more worrying.

    I think the author has produced a true workman like history, which covers the wide expanse of the aircraft carriers role in WW2. However I was left feeling decidedly flat about this history of flat-tops, as it doesnít have the size to go beyond the broad details of the various actions described. The author has himself produced some singularly good books on the battles of Leyte Gulf & Guadalcanal in the past, with the detail sadly missing in this.

    This book would be a good introduction for those with little or no knowledge of the subject matter, but outside of this bracket I would caution purchasing it!
    3 stars (average)
    Attached Files
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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