Images of War: US Naval Aviation 1898 – 1945 written by Leo Marriott and published by Pen & Sword Books – £14.99 – Softcover – Pages 224

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 sank or crippled almost all of the battleships belonging to the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, but the fleet’s aircraft carriers survived to demonstrate that naval aviation was now the dominant factor in the struggle at sea, turning the tide of the Pacific War. That the US Navy had the necessary ships, aircraft and crews was the result of pioneering, far-sighted decisions made in the pre-war years. Before the First World War the navy had recognised the potential of aircraft at sea, and it went on to develop the techniques and equipment that contributed so much to the defeat of the Japanese. This is the fascinating story Leo Marriott tells in this photographic history.

In a selection of over 200 rare photographs he traces the growth of US naval aviation from the flimsy seaplanes of the first years of the twentieth century to the mighty armadas that challenged those of the Japanese and, after the carrier battles at Coral Sea and Midway, led the advance across the Pacific. Key aspects of the history are the navy’s first aircraft carriers of the 1920s and the tremendous progress made in the decades between the wars in tactics and strategy as well as in the design of ships and aircraft.

This book basically looks at the growth of the US Navy in the first half of the most devastating century there has been. It primarily follows the aircraft carrier fleet which when seen in quite a few of the photographs look spectacular. But this is really the look at the birth of a navy from the biggest superpower in the world, so we see from the start how they relied upon airships and bi-planes. This book ends in the period of the Second World War as the US are forced to take on Japan and their naval fleet. after the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the US into the war. The pictures of these ships are always going to look amazing even just going by the sheer size of them. But the number of planes they held are staggering making for another brilliant book. As usual with these Images of Wat books, the pictures are excellent and the supporting text is first-class written by knowledgeable historians. As always a definite recommendation from me.