by Martin W Bowman
Hard Cover 0750921757 1999 Sutton Publishing Illustrated
U.S. Naval Aviation, 1946-1999, presents a fascinating pictorial account of the changing role of U.S. naval aircraft since the end of the Second World War--from protector of the United States forces and symbol of American power throughout the world to international avenger and peacekeeper. Focusing on the aircraft and the personnel who fly and service them, the book features a huge range of different aircraft types--from the FD-2 Phantom (the first U.S. pure jet to land aboard an aircraft carrier) to the F-14 Tomcat and the F/A-18 Hornet heavy carrier-based fighters of the 1990s.
U.S. maritime power had its beginnings in the Pacific between 1941 and 1945, when carrier-borne aircraft won overwhelming victories against the Imperial Japanese Navy at Guadalcanal, the Marianas, and Okinawa--all but erasing the black memory of Pearl Harbor. Postwar America benefited greatly from German wartime aeronautical research and British developments in jet engine and carrier technology. As the Cold War intensified, America could not afford to lag behind, especially when the uneasy peace in Korea was shattered in 1950 and American aircraft were confronted with the MiG-15 for the first time. This gave rise to the development of supersonic fighter planes, such as the A-4 Skyhawk, used in the controversial bombing campaigns against North Vietnam in the late '60s and early '70s. By the mid-1980s, U.S. naval carrier-based aircraft proved a very efficient avenger--and deterrent--in the fight against international terrorism. During the Gulf War of 1991, naval units at sea joined forces with the land-based strike aircraft in Operation 'Desert Storm', when the U.S. Navy averaged 125-150 sorties per day per carrier.
U.S. Naval Aviation 1946-1999 contains more than 200 exciting photographs from official U.S. Navy archives and private collections--many of which are previously unpublished. Supported by authoritative and detailed captions, these images provide a rare insight into U.S. naval air power--ever vigilant and ready to strike when diplomacy fails.
Bowman has written the near perfect book for fans of naval aviation. This is believed to be his only work on naval aviation to date; the prolific author has written several titles on land-based airpower. This is reflected in the one major error I noted in his text - carrier aircraft are taken via elevator underdeck on below for service - not underground!
An amazing photo on page 136 shows an experimental radar fit to USS Constellation in 1972 of SPS-43, 52 and 30 radar antennas. This may be the only picture ever to show this unusual suite of radar onboard an aircraft carrier.
The book could've improved with the addition of more photos of blimp, seaplane and transport aircraft.
This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in military and/or naval aviation. The collection of photos ensure that this book will not be read once and shelved permanently. It will be read over and over again.