The aircraft carrier was the most important warship of the Second World War, and the United States produced more of them than every other combatant combined. Amongst them were the twenty-four completed members of the Essex Class carriers, the most numerous class of fleet carriers, and the fifty ships of the Casablanca class of escort carriers, the most numerous class of carriers ever built.
The first three chapters look at the large fleet carriers, the smaller escort carriers, and the fast but small light carriers. Each chapter gives us an account of the development of each new class of carrier, followed by a series of photographs showing every ship in the class that actually served during the Second World War. The earlier fleet carriers get the most pictures, the Essex class carriers average at about two each, the smaller escort carriers one photograph each and the faster light carriers a page each.
Next comes a useful chapter looking at each type of carrier aircraft that served with the US Navy during the war – these were after all the only significant weapon carried by these ships.
After the historical chapters we get two detailed studies of individual carriers. The first looks at the wreck of the Saratoga, using photographs from a long series of dives around her. The second looks at the Hornet, which has survived as a museum ship. These are an interesting change of pace from the earlier overview chapters,
We finish with a look at the post-war careers of the Essex class carriers, which includes service off Korea and Vietnam, helping with the US Space Programme and in some cases surviving to become museum ships.
This is a useful overview of the US carrier fleet, with good descriptions of the various classes and their strengths and weaknesses, and a complete photographic reference for every carrier that served during the war.
1 – Fleet Carriers
2 – Escort Carriers
3 – Light Carriers
4 – Carrier Aircraft
5 – U.S.S. Saratoga: A Dive into History
6 - U.S.S. Hornet: A Guided Tour
7 – The Essex-class beyond World War II
Author: Ingo Bauernfeind