Essex Class Aircraft Carriers 1943-1991

...Images of War from Pen & Sword

Title: Essex Class Aircraft Carriers 1943-1991
Author: Leo Marriott
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52677-214-5

Even by the time of Pearl Harbour, the first hulls of new Fleet Carriers had already been laid down, though they were not ready for service until 1943. They became the Essex Class carriers and 17 were in service by the end of the war in 1945. Even after the war another 7 were completed and Essex Class carriers continued to give valuable service in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. They also went through a huge level of technical change over their time in service and are a fascinating topic to study.
The 164-page soft-cover book is split across 9 chapters. Each one is opened with a short piece of background text but the bulk of the story is held within the extensive captions provided for all of the fine collection of archive photos which illustrate each chapter. The chapters cover US Navy Carrier Development 1919-41; Essex Class Enter Service; Across the Pacific; Aboard the Essex Class; Through Kamikaze to Victory; The Post-War Era & Korea; Steam & Mirrors; Submarines, Spacecraft & Vietnam; and a final Postscript. The many photos illustrate so many aspects of the class. In WW2 they carried a large number of aircraft, shown filling the flight deck, under attack by Japanese Kamikaze and the interior spaces where the crew lived and worked. The Essex Class went on after the war to be extensively modified with the fitting of angled flight decks and the introduction of jets in place of older piston engined aircraft. Beyond that they featured in the space programme as they assisted with the recovery of returning capsules and crew and as they were replaced by more modern carriers, they were adapted to be early examples of helicopter assault ships.
A small number of survivors remained, and the USS Lexington was used as a training carrier right up to 1991. Among a few that have been preserved as museum ships, the USS Intrepid still remains on display in New York harbour. An excellent addition to the Images of War series and one that I think can be enjoyed by both aircraft and naval enthusiasts while also being a very useful reference for modellers.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for this review copy.