The twentieth century saw the aircraft carrier replace the big-gun battleship as the most important capital ships in the world's navies. This book looks at the Fleet Air Arm and the long history of the British aircraft carrier. We start with a look at the development of carrier aviation towards the end of the First World War and in the inter-war period, a period that saw the Navy regain control of its aviation in 1937. This introduction also looks at the aircraft carriers used by the navy, and a selection of the most important aircraft to serve on them.
We then move on to a series of chapters that look at each theatre of the Second World War - the Atlantic (and Arctic), Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific - looking at the ships involved and the operations they took part in. This takes up about one third of the text, and is followed by almost as much material on the Korean War, which saw Fleet Air Arm involvement from the start to the end of the UN involvement in the war.
Darling then brings the story up to the present day, looking at the slow decline of the Fleet Air Arm before the Falklands War, the crucial part it played in that war, and the potential revival of true carrier aviation with the current generation of 'super-carriers' that are under construction (2010).
Darling is very good on matters of detail - which carriers were involved in which operation, and which squadrons or flights were operating from them. The career summaries for the escort carriers are particularly useful, provides some details I haven't seen elsewhere.
This is a useful book that provides a good overview of the entire history of the Fleet Air Arm, bring up-to-date a story that often ends in 1945, or with the Korean War.
1 Aviation for the Navy From the Start to 1939
2 The Fleet Air Arm in the Atlantic
3 The Fleet Air Arm in the Mediterranean
4 Prosecuting the War in India and the Far East
5 Korea: the Seafire Interlude
6 Korea: the Sea Fury years
7 Sea Furies in Korean Skies
8 From Suez to the Falklands
9 From the Falklands to the Future
Author: Kev Darling
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation