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British Aircraft Carriers — and more!

1 October 2014

British Aircraft Carriers — and more!

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories, Davis Hobbs, 2013, ISBN 978 1 59114 074 0, 384 pp.

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories by Davis Hobbs painting on cover “HM Ships Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle during Operation Pedestal, August 1942” by Anthony Cowland

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories by Davis Hobbs painting on cover "HM Ships Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle during Operation Pedestal, August 1942" by Anthony Cowland

British Aircraft Carriers: design, development and service histories by Davis Hobbs painting on cover “HM Ships Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle during Operation Pedestal, August 1942” by Anthony Cowland

This is thoroughly delightful for the author’s expertise, knowledge, images, illustrations and weight. The book is an encyclopedia of British Aircraft Carrier design history as well as ship service records. The British Royal Navy (RN) invented the aircraft carrier and lead the way to each major carrier design evolution save nuclear power and size. The RN were the first to armor flight decks, utilize catapults, angle their flight decks, and used ski jumps (useful for conventional as well as STOVL aircraft).

Hobbs devised a few of the devices used by RN pilots to bring their aircraft aboard and could hardly write better or more objectively. Successes are described and failures discussed. Hobbs is enlightening and so many areas of carrier design and aviation development as well as employment. Design details are placed under a knowing eye and battle actions are descriptive and succinct. Ships plans for a few carriers are provided in fold-outs — these are reproductions of wonderfully crafted documents which have been given an aged look.

There are significant bonus sections in Hobbs’s excellent and easily read book: discussions of the aircraft carriers of several other navies, discussion of the UK’s choice to eliminate aircraft carriers then bring on two small sized carriers, and what the author’s opinion on the future of aircraft carriers. These are not simplistic discussions as economic facets are also brought into the analysis. The design differences of aircraft carriers across the world are laid out and better understood for where they are expected to serve, with mistakes noted.

This book is one for the personal library as well as for the person who wished to have an overall awareness of aircraft carrier design and service history — not a U.S. Navy centric one.

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