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A Century of Carrier Aviation: The Evolution of Ships and Shipborne Aircraft, by David Hobbs

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2009. Pp. 304. Illus., diagr., plans, notes, biblio., index. $69.95. ISBN:1591140234.

The subtile of this large format book, The Evolution of Ships and Shipborne Aircraft, is the key here, for it is a look at the tools of ship-borne aviation, from the improvisations that permitted Eugene Ely to make his pioneering take-off from an armored cruiser in 1910 to the present. 

The work is focused on the technical development of the ships and, albeit to a lesser extent, the aircraft.  Although it primarily covers the origins and development of aircraft carriers, the book also provides a good account of other forms of ship-borne aircraft, including catapult planes, helicopters, and even a brief look at rigid airships.  Developments in the British and American navies are appropriately well covered, but the Japanese experience is rather neglected and other navies are almost wholly ignored, despite interesting ideas attempted by, for example, the French and Swedes. 

These objections aside, however, this work does provide an important look at the usually neglected technical aspects of carrier development.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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