US Naval Aviation 1898-1945

...The Pioneering Years to the Second World War, from Pen & Sword

Title: US Naval Aviation 1898-1945
Author: Leo Marriott
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52678-539-8

This recent addition to the Images of War series is another from author Leo Marriott, concentrating on an important periods of US Naval aviation, from humble beginnings before and through WW1 and then the quite rapid developments that took place between the wars and then rapidly expanded through to the end of WW2. A 173-page soft-cover book with over 200 historic images, most of which I hadn't seen before.
The story is spread across 8 chapters, each one started with a couple of pages of text to set the scene and the rest of the story held in the extensive captions that accompany each of the over 200 archive photos. From the fragile looking early aircraft, it didn't take long for the military to realise the potential for aircraft, prompted by the early experiments by the Royal Navy in launching aircraft from platforms built about main gun turrets. That led to the first US Carrier, the relatively small USS Langley, which was used as a training carrier. There is also a chapter devoted to the deployment of airships, large flying boats and floatplanes. It also features the large carriers, the Saratoga, Lexington and Enterprise which were not in harbour at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 June 1941. Other carriers soon joined them in service, including the Hornet and the Wasp. In the war, while the Hornet achieved fame when it launched B-25 Mitchell bombers to attack the Japanese homeland, and the Wasp, which was also used in Europe, taking fighter reinforcements to Malta. Both of these are featured, while both were later lost in the Pacific War. In addition to the larger Fleet carriers, there were also plenty of smaller Escort carriers, used sometimes to ferry new aircraft to the larger fleet vessels. A fine collection of photos showing the various carriers in service, along with the wide variety of aircraft types they fielded as well.
The book charts a rapid development in various technologies, in both ships and aircraft over the course of WW2, facing a very capable naval opponent in the form of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). It also makes clear the incredible manufacturing capacity of the United States, covering a period where the aircraft carrier came to replace the Battleship as the most powerful vessels afloat. For both naval and aviation enthusiasts and modellers, the detail in here will provide some valuable references as usual.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.

Robin