100 Years of British Naval Aviation

R1564

When naval aviation was first considered, Britain still ruled the waves 
with the greatest fleet and the best technology. It was therefore to be
expected that British naval aviators would be at the forefront of 
innovation and exploration of this new method of fighting at sea. As 
British power declined, the contribution of British naval aviators 
continued to lead other navies.
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NAME: 100 Years of British Naval Aviation

CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1564
DATE: 061009
AUTHOR: Christopher Shores
PUBLISHER: Haynes
BINDING: Hard back
PAGES: 311
PRICE: GB £35.00
GENRE: Non fiction
SUBJECT: RNAS, FAA, carriers, naval aircraft, WWI, WWII, technology, 
people, battles, naval warfare
ISBN: 978-1-84425-661-7
IMAGE: B1564.jpg
LINKS: http://tinyurl.com/ 
DESCRIPTION: When naval aviation was first considered, Britain still 
ruled the waves with the greatest fleet and the best technology. It 
was therefore to be expected that British naval aviators would be at 
the forefront of innovation and exploration of this new method of 
fighting at sea. As British power declined, the contribution of 
British naval aviators continued to lead other navies. Celebrating 
these many achievements was long overdue and it was a disappointment 
that Fly Navy 100 failed to achieve the news media attention that it
deserved. Taking the starting point as the inclusion of funds for a 
first airship in 1909 was a curious choice because it was not the 
start of the Royal Navy's preparations to take to the air and the 
resulting airship, aptly named Mayfly, was less than successful. This
book is described as an Official Licensed Product which may explain 
why the author started at 1909. It has long been a tradition for books
to begin with forewords, introductions, acknowledgements and author's
notes, although how many readers take any great interest in the these
preambles is often debated. Where they are read carefully, they will 
influence the purchase. Having started with the Foreword and the 
Introduction and Acknowledgements this reviewer is not sure whether to 
commend the author for his honesty or wish the Introduction had not 
been written as it has been. If the reader skims past this preamble, 
there is a well written and lavishly illustrated work which covers its
subject well and is a worthwhile addition to any library or bookshelf.
The Introduction gives the impression that this book has been hastily
put together and does little more than repeat the work of earlier 
authors. Clearly any author attempting a history of any kind is 
dependent heavily on surviving records and books previously published.
Anyone who has read extensively on a subject such as that covered in
this book will have stuck in the mind phases and concepts from other 
work without necessarily being aware of what is remembered and what 
is personal conclusion. In researching for a new book there is rarely
the time to carefully check every available piece of information to 
trace to source. Hopefully, most potential buyers will ignore the 
preamble and flick through the pages, noting the excellent selection 
of images that illustrate the text. The publisher has elected to 
print onto gloss paper of good weight and this accounts for the 
pricing which might deter some potential readers but this is likely 
to be a book that the owner will read and reread many times, 
demanding the quality of materials. Some images are not sharp but 
their inclusion is justified by the subject captured and there is 
also justification for not attempting to use enhancement software 
which can result in subtle changes to the image that change what it 
presents. The author is fortunate to have had access to the FAA 
Museum photographic collection which is extensive, well catalogued 
and maintained. A centenary book is of necessity a synopsis of events
and as the author points out at the start, so much has been written 
over the years about specific aspects of British naval aviation, a 
serious reader probably already owns many books that collectively 
tell the story in much greater detail. However, the purchase of this 
book is justified for the photographs alone and the story flows at a 
comfortable pace. The concluding chapter talks of a New World Order 
but some will dispute this, claiming that the Cold War ended one 
World Order, but the New World Order is still being established. It 
is ironic that one hundred years of innovation by British naval 
aviators has coincided with a series of enormous challenges and 
uncertainties. On the one hand the Fleet Air Arm appears set to 
receive the F-35 Lightning II and two large carriers to host them. 
The reality may be somewhat different. The severe economic recession 
in Britain will demand some very tough decisions in spending cuts and
one potential target is the planned purchase of the two carriers and 
their aircraft. Some are already suggesting that only one carrier 
will be built and at a very much slower pace, with the cancellation 
of the STOVL version of the Lightning II. With the French planning to
built a single similar carrier, there is growing pressure to equip 
both with catapults and French aircraft. Other sources have suggested
that the Typhoon II should be adapted for naval use compensating for 
the lower than planned procurement of this aircraft as a land-based 
fighter and made much of the lack of resilience in the Lightning II 
with its single main engine. At the same time the increasing use of 
UAV remote controlled and robot aircraft will reduce the use of manned
naval aircraft. The US Navy is already well advanced with trials of 
new shore-based UAVs that can be refuelled in the air and smaller UAVs
that can be catapult launched from most current and anticipated 
vessels, or hand launched afloat and ashore. In the British system of 
dividing duties between the Services, this could mean that larger 
aircraft are operated from shore by the RAF and smaller UAVs will be 
treated as munitions and become the responsibility of seamen and 
weapons officers. As if these challenges are not enough, the Royal 
Navy faces potential disbandment once the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified
throughout the European Union and a single structure of European Union
Forces is established.

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