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USS Hornet

...CV-12 Service in War and Peace, from Fonthill Media

Title: USS Hornet
Author: Russell Moore
Publisher: America Through Time
ISBN: 978-1-63499-442-2

This new soft-cover book produced by America Through Time with Fonthill Media is a super new release. A 255-page book packed with the history and a lot of photos, from an author who is one of the team of volunteers who help look after her as the museum ship she is today in Alameda, California.
The previous carrier to carry the name of Hornet was CV-8, a Yorktown Class carrier famous for launching the Doolittle raid on Tokyo. That was replaced in 1943 by CV-12, a new Essex Class carrier. The first half of the book takes us through the design and development of the new ship, including a good explanation of why they chose not to use a fully armoured flight deck. It goes on to tell the story of her service in the second half of WW2, split across 2 chapters. The Hornet had a first class service record, taking part in actions such as the Battles of the Philippine Sea, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa among others. She suffered damage in July 1945 from a typhoon that badly damaged the front of the flight deck, and there are some striking photos of that damage. After the war the Hornet went through more than one modernisation programme, which included the installation of an angled flight deck and a change for the enclosed Hurricane bow. After a short time in reserve she was reactivated and modernised but back in service too late for the Korean war but she did serve on Yankee Station during the Vietnam War, having been converted to an anti-submarine role. Then came another claim to fame as the Hornet was used to recover the astronauts of both Apollo 11 and 12, along with Sea King helo 66. I had never known that the quarantine pod they were put in on their return from the moon missions was actually a converted Airstream trailer!. The second half of the book takes the story on, after being decommissioned she was sold for scrap but fortunately that didn't happen before she was saved and turned into a museum ship, a role she has filled now for over 20 years. That new story is told in detail with plenty of then and now photos as that time has gradually seen more and more spaces on the ship restored and opened for pubic viewing. A fantastic set of photos illustrate many of them. Finally a chapter devoted to the aircraft and the space race exhibits that can be seen on board today.
This is a really interesting story to read, and for those of a similar age to me who remember both the Vietnam War and the Apollo moon missions I am sure you will love this close-up view of the ship and enjoy reading her history. I have long been fascinated by aircraft carriers and this is one of the best books I can remember seeing on such a famous example. My only wish now is to one day to be able to travel to Alameda and see the USS Hornet for myself. In the meantime, I have this one to enjoy.
Thanks to Fonthill Media for the review copy.


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