Casemate's US Aircraft Carriers 1939-45

Author/Artists: ingo Bauernfeind




$49.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 240 pages,  hardcover, over 200 photos and illustrations. 8x 10 inches.
ISBN: 978-1-61200-934-6

World War II was a game changer in many areas when it came to weapons systems. In terms of naval vessels, it saw the effectiveness of submarines and the importance of developing submarine warfare technology. It also saw the end of the centuries old king of the seas, the big gun surface ship. Ever since the days of sail, it was thought that naval battles would be fought by the two combatants throwing lead/steel/iron projectiles at each other until one side was decimated. What planners prior to WWII had not counted upon was the age of the airplane and the ships that carried them.

Aircraft carrier development was slow as the major powers who built them learned out to operate them. It was the British who went through the fairly steep learning curve when it came to using them in combat, from the disasters in Norway's waters early in the war to the success at Taranto just a few years earlier. It was this operation as much as anything else that showed those who were paying attention, that carrier borne aircraft could be a very effective weapon.

On the other side of the world, both the US and Japan had built up small numbers of aircraft carriers. Both were initially designed to act as much as long range scouting platforms as much as anything else, though they did have an offensive capability when it was needed. The Japanese learned from their operations in China what a carrier could and could not do. They put this experience and what they gleaned from the British Taranto raid into practice at Pearl Harbor.

During the early year or so of the Pacific War, both the US and Japan lost a fair number of their carriers, but the US was able to build them faster than the Japanese and the rest is history. Today the aircraft carrier is the prime method of power projection and has been since 1945.

This book covers all the American aircraft carriers used in WWII. For sure, we are provided on information and a look at the pre-war development of US carriers, but the majority of the book gives a look at every carrier either built or underway during the war. This includes the Essex class fleet carriers, the various classes of escort carrier as well as light carrier. There were a lot more than many people realize. Another section covers naval aircraft as well. A couple of feature chapters are included. One is on the USS Saratoga, which was sunk at Bikini Atoll with a goodly number of underwater photos of the wreck. Another is a tour of the USS Hornet, which is a well preserved museum ship. Finally a section on the post-war operations of the Essex class carriers.

This is a photo book as much as a history and you are treated to hundreds of period photos of the ships covered in the book. It is also one of the thickest volumes in Casemate's Illustrated Special series and makes for a great read and equally welcome reference. Highly recommended to all.

July 2021

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