by Richard A HoffmanAs a child, my brother and I got a chance to sit in the cockpit of a Marlin patrol aircraft at NAS Whidbey Island. Now 40 years later, I still have a fascination in this type of aircraft.
Detailing a proud chapter in naval aviation history, former PBM pilot Richard Hoffman has written the first comprehensive history of Mariner operations. This versatile seaplane was first deployed in 1941 during the Battle of the Atlantic, when it helped sink ten German U-boats. The following year it became a mainstay of the Naval Air Transport Service as the first aircraft to provide a vital link between Hawaii and the South Pacific. In combat, Mariners participated in every major offensive campaign from the Marianas to Iwo Jima and Okinawa, sinking enemy submarines, ships, and aircraft. They also served as the main rescue aircraft, saving hundreds of airmen and seamen in spectacular open-sea rescue operations. At war’s end, they were the first aircraft into Tokyo Bay. Yet the Mariner has long been overshadowed by its famous counterpart, the PBY Catalina.This book corrects the oversight by recognizing the Mariner not only for its contributions to World War II but also the postwar years, when it was involved with the exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic and the Korean War. Hoffman offers dramatic details of PBM fights with Chinese MIGs and patrol and reconnaissance missions. The author also highlights the seaplane’s hazardous rescue missions with the Coast Guard and its service with foreign armed forces. Striking photos of Mariners in action accompany the narrative, and a list of all PBM casualties is appended.The book contains a few errors that are quite shocking considering the publisher is the Naval Institute Press:
US Army transports were USAT and not USS
Reference is made to an Australian submarine on page 50. Australia had no submarines in World War II; the author must've meant an Australian-based submarine.
USS Grapple is referred to as a seaplane tender when in fact she was a salvage tug
He refers to a seaplane tender as having a limiting displacement, a term I have never come across in 29 years in the nautical field
Describing the career history of the seaplane tenders, the author fails to mention the very active duty performed by USNS Curtiss in Vietnam in support of USMC helicopter forces
Apart from these minor errors, the book is very readable and is recommended. (DS)