Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

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Andy H
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Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

Post by Andy H » 13 Jun 2013 23:54

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 RN’s 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/MAC’s 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 doesn’t 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)
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Re: Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

Post by mescal » 17 Jun 2013 13:34

I saw this book appear in my amazon recommendations ...
The first thing I checked was the number of pages ... and 224 pages seems far to few pages to tackle "carriers at war".

You review seems to confirm what I thought.

Just one question :
Is there anything in the book which deals with the carrier warfaer doctrines of the different carrier navies (and with their evolution from 39 to 45) ?
Olivier

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Re: Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

Post by OpanaPointer » 17 Jun 2013 13:44

Can you recommend a volume (or volumes) for the serious student of bird farms?
Come visit our sites:
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Re: Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

Post by Andy H » 17 Jun 2013 14:26

mescal wrote:I saw this book appear in my amazon recommendations ...
The first thing I checked was the number of pages ... and 224 pages seems far to few pages to tackle "carriers at war".

You review seems to confirm what I thought.

Just one question :
Is there anything in the book which deals with the carrier warfaer doctrines of the different carrier navies (and with their evolution from 39 to 45) ?
H Mescal

No is the simple answer.
As we've both noted the sheer scale of Carrier warfare during WW2 can't be truly reflected or discussed in a book of this size. This isn't the authors fault as he has to work within the publishers confines, and the author has used that space to tell his general story to its maximum. As I said if you dont know anything about WW2 A/C ops then this book is for you, if you know more than that then I would pass it over.

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Andy H

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Re: Review: Carriers at War 1939-1945

Post by Andy H » 17 Jun 2013 14:33

OpanaPointer wrote:Can you recommend a volume (or volumes) for the serious student of bird farms?
Hi

Its hard to look past the works of Friedman when it comes to US Carriers, though others such as Tillman, Reynolds and a whole host of others have done fantastic works based on specific ships or battles. Brown & Hobbs have done great stuff on the RN carriers but I'll have to bow to ignorance about a good author on IJN carriers.

Regards

Andy H

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