British Aircraft Carriers - Design, Development and Service Histories, David Hobbs

British Aircraft Carriers - Design, Development and Service Histories, David Hobbs

This book looks at the complete history of the British aircraft carrier, from the pre-First World War experiments with aviation and the very earliest aircraft operating warships to the upcoming Queen Elizabeth class carriers under construction as I write (2014). 

The author served on aircraft carriers in the 1960s and 70s and developed the operating procedures for the Invincible class carriers. This is reflected in his detailed understanding of how a carrier works and what factors made for a successful design, but it does also mean that he was very closely involved in many of the cancelled carrier designs and misfiring projects of the period.

The majority of chapters (those looking at either individual British aircraft carriers or aircraft carrier class) follow a similar format. They start with a technical description of the ship or class, looking at the discussions that led to the eventual design and describing the type. This is followed by a series of individual ship histories looking at the service records of the different carriers.

Each chapter is supported by a good collection of high quality photographs and splendid deck plans (mostly from the author's collection). Perhaps the most impressive of the illustrations are the full colour reproductions of original Admiralty plans in the centre of the book, including a fold-out four-page spread showing a side plan of the first post-war Ark Royal.

This is an absolutely superb history of the British aircraft carrier. Hobbs understands every aspect of his topic and this is reflected in the text. The sections on the design of each type of carrier are particularly strong, reflecting his expert knowledge of carrier operations. The service records complete the picture for the British carriers, and there are also interesting sections on other nation's carriers. For me this is the definitive history of the British aircraft carrier and an invaluable book.

1 - Admiralty interest in aviation 1908-1911
2 - Early ship trials and demonstration
3 - Seaplane carriers
4 - Furious and Vindictive
5 - Argus
6 - Eagle
7 - Hermes
8 - The development of carriers in other navies
9 - Courageous class
10 - Ark Royal
11 - Illustrious class - first group
12 - Indomitable
13 - Implacable group
14 - British-built escort carriers and MAC-ships
15 - Archer class
16 - Attacker class
17 - Ruler class
18 - Project Habbakuk
19 - Audacious class
20 - Colossus class
21 - Majestic class
22 - Maltaclass
23 - A comparison with aircraft carriers in other navies
24 - The maintenance carriers Unicorn, Pioneer and Perseus
25 - Hermes class
26 - British carrierborne aircraft and their operations
27 - Post-1945 aircraft carrier designs that were not built
28 - The reconstruction - Victorious, Hermes and Eagle
29 - CVA-01: The unbuilt Queen Elizabeth
30 - Ark Royal - controversy, a single carrier and her aircraft
31 - Small carrier designs for a future fleet
32 - Short take-off and vertical landings
33 - Invincible class
34 - Ocean - landing platform (helicopter)
35 - Queen Elizabeth class
36 - Aircraft carriers in the Commonwealth navies
37 - British carrier concepts and foreign aircraft carriers compared
38 - Carrierborne aircraft in the twenty-first century
39 - Unmanned aircraft - a fast-moving technical and tactical evolution
40 - The Royal Navy's future prospects: the author's afterwords

A - Illustrative Royal navy carrierborne aircraft 1912-2012
B - Examples of aircraft from other services that have operated from RN aircraft carriers
C - The proposed aircraft carrying mail steamer of 1923
D - Fighter catapult ships and CAM-ships
E - British aircraft carrier losses
F - Pennant numbers and deck recognition letters

Author: David Hobbs
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2013

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