This entry in the Images of War series covers the aircraft that served with the US Navy in just over a century of naval aviation, from the first biplanes of 1911 to the modern jets, helicopters and drones. This is a vast topic, and there are plenty of more obscure types that aren’t included, but the coverage is still impressive, and includes quite a few aircraft I hadn’t heard of.
The book is split into four chapters, organised on rough chronological grounds – pre-war, Second World War, Cold War and post Cold War. The division is loosely based on when aircraft entered service, so some important Second World War aircraft appear in the pre-war chapter (such as the Grumman Wildcat). Each chapter is split into two, starting with a text introduction that covers all of the aircraft, and ending with all of the photos. Each photo is accompanied by a useful caption. There is also a small section of colour plates in the centre of the book. The few biplanes covered here are survivors, and the bulk of these pictures cover the Second World War or later aircraft, again with quite a few modern survivors.
Most of the aircraft covered are familiar types, but it is nice to see some of the plenty of the less successful designs covered, as well as a good section on helicopters and some interesting most drones. I didn’t realise that the US Navy currently operated drone versions of helicopters, including one based on the Bell 407, which is effectively a full sized helicopter with the windows faired over, and quite odd looking.
There isn’t a vast amount of information on each type of aircraft covered here, but the book’s main value is that it gives an overview of naval aviation at any particular period, and also demonstrates the rapid rate of progress, especially in the early period, where the aircraft went from being a novelty in 1906 to a valid weapon in 1914 and a powerful addition to the battlefield by 1918.
1 - Pre-Second World War Aircraft
2 - Second World War Aircraft
3 - Cold War Aircraft
4 - Post-Cold War Aircraft
Author: Michael Green
Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime