Friday, January 23, 2015

The Canadair Argus

The Canadair Argus

Title: The Canadair Argus:  The Untold Story of Canada’s Cold War Maritime Hunter
Authors: Major Cary Barker and Major Bert Campbell

The Canadair Argus plied the skies of Canada’s East and West Coast during the Cold War and, outside of a few preserved airframes, is almost forgotten.  Even in books about the RCAF, it gets, at best, mentioned for a few pages in chapters on Maritime Command.  This 190-page hardcover book changes all that.  It does what it says on the cover, it tells the story of the Argus from development to retirement.  Everything is here; weapon’s trials, stories of patrols, crew and maintenance tails, etc.  I was fascinated by the Bullpup missile trials, and the references to the use of the Argus during Cuban Missile crisis.  The book is well illustrated with colour and black-and-white photos and nicely down aircraft paintings.  A must for an RCAF fan of Maritime operations.

Reviewed by Jim Bates

Friday, January 9, 2015

British Warships & Auxiliaries 2015/16


By Steve Bush

The fully revised and updated well respected guide to the ships,aircraft and weapons of the fleet. Over 80 colour photos. Complete with pennant numbers and silhouettes. Now expanded to include Royal Marine Craft and Border Agency vessels.
This book, published annually, is the best reference tool available on the Royal Navy and is edited by LCDR Steve Bush RN (Ret'd). The latest issue, as usual, contains glossy high resolution images of ships and aircraft and should be on the bookshelf of naval personnel as well as those with an interest in the Royal Navy. 

Order your copy today.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oakville's Flower The History of HMCS Oakville

Cover for Oakville's Flower

Oakville's Flower The History of HMCS Oakville

By Sean E. Livingston
October 2014 Dundurn Toronto 144 pp 9781459728417 8.25 in x 10.875 in

This look at corvette HMCS Oakville and the later Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Oakville, named for one of the towns in Ontario that were once considered the economic engine driving Canada. Author Sean E Livingston is a serving Sea Cadet officer in Oakville and this is believed to 
be his first book. The author has done a credible job with the text and makes a fine addition to Oakville and Royal Canadian Navy history. 
The major disappointment from the book was the printing. While color images were included, the reader is left with the feeling it was run off on the office photocopier and sent off to have a perfect binding cover added.
Would make a good Christmas gift for Sea Cadets in the Ontario region.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Edge of Valor

Naval Institute Press 9781612515199 Hardcover & eBook 344 Pages 344 Pages Fiction July 2014

While we don't normally review works of fiction, this book looked interesting so did peruse it. The book is set in the summer of 1945 on a  US Navy destroyer in the Pacific which suffered a Kamikaze hit with the CO, XO and Squadron Commander in recurring roles. The CO, after getting his ship back to port, is transferred to special duty.

The CO, Todd Ingram, becomes intimately involved in early Cold War intrigues, a time overshadowed at the time by the rush to demobilize. Being the fifth in a series of novels, the characters are fairly well developed by this point.

Taking over a series at book five in a series is usually either a sign the author is popular and commands fees the publisher cannot meet or the previous books have not been good sellers. Indeed this was the case with the late Tom Clancy, whose first novel, Hunt for Red October, was shepherded through the production process by editor Fred Rainbow of Naval Institute Press. The book was a great success which had the deleterious effect of pricing the author on to a larger publishing house. However in the case of this book, we'll leave judgement on this to the reader.

The only complaint I had with the book was the page layout. Reading fiction is supposed to an enjoyable experience and the text was too bunched together with a small font, which would make the book an uncomfortable read for older readers.

Nauticapedia List of British Columbia’s Floating Heritage (Volume One 1892–1959)

Book - British Columbia's Floating Heritage

Nauticapedia List of British Columbia’s Floating Heritage (Volume One 1892–1959)

John M. MacFarlane Nauticapedia 978-0-9936954-0-7 240 Pages

This work, the first work in a compendium of seagoing vessels over the years in British Columbia waters. Written by former Maritime Museum of BC head and Nauticapedia founder John MacFarlane, this book is an essential addition to the bookshelf of nautical history buffs. The only quibble we might have is a lack of illustrations in the manuscript, which would have made a nice addition.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fire on the Water

Naval Institute Press 9781612517957 Hardcover & eBook 288 Pages September 2014

This timely book is a look at potential war plans for China in the Indo-Pacific region. With the rise in Chinese naval power and the continual decline of the US Navy's fleet, just what could happen must be examined.

Author Haddick cites as example if the Forward Strategy of Cold War era CNO Thomas Hayward and adopted by then Secretary of the Navy John F Lehman. However the timeline of how this came about is in error; Hayward's plan was first articulated to the public by US Naval Intelligence Analyst and former USNI author and Editorial Board member AD (Dave) Baker III in the Pages of Proceedings. Having read Baker's article and in subsequent meetings, Lehman appointed Baker his special assistant to implement the strategy.

The text brings up the major shortfall in US carrier aviation yet again, the lack of range of the aircraft. This has been a problem since going to the all Hornet force which has been exacerbated by the retirement of dedicated refueling aircraft. This state of affairs will not be any different when the F-35C is introduced to fleet service with carriers still having to operate close enough to hostile shores that would put them in range of Chinese ballistic missiles.

The author advocates for new missiles to replace now outdated Tomahawk and Harpoon variants with longer range supersonic missiles which minimize risk to aircraft carrier battle groups.

Well done Mr Haddick for bringing forward this matter that requires serious study.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Unflinching Zeal

9781612511115 Hardcover & Ebook Naval Institute Press 368 Pages 

This consequential work by a pioneer aviation historian fills a significant gap in the story of the defeat of France in 1940. Higham also more fully explains the Battle of Britain and its influence on the Luftwaffe’s invasion of the USSR. The author provides a comparative analysis of the French, German, and British air forces and then dissects their campaigns, losses, and replacement abilities. His research led to an important finding: the three air forces actually shot down only 19 percent of the number of aircraft claimed, and in the RAF’s case, 44 percent of those shot down were readily repairable, contrasting with only 8 percent for the Germans and zero for the French. Higham concludes that awareness of consumption, wastage, and sustainability were intimately connected to survival, and his book emphasizes the necessity of realistic assessments.
Having a late relative who was the only RCAF pilot assinged to RAF 601 "Millionaires" Squadron (so named as from its prewar home for some of the wealthiest members of the Royal (Auxiliary) Air Force, I was engaged in the narrative.
Most French aircraft of the prewar era were of poor design and were unsurprisingly massacred by the Luftwaffe in 1940. From Versailles to Dunkirk, France blamed the army for the loss of five million deaths in the First World War. This feedling lead to pitiful attention to the military which was unprepared for war in 1939.
The UK funded the Royal Air Force slowly and unevenly through the 1920s and 30s and spent much to their air resources in India and other outposts of the British Empire. Poor decisions on acquisitions produced disastrous aircraft such as the Fairey Battle, which like the French designs, was massacred in 1940 by the Germans. 
Kudos to Mr Higham for producing this fine work.