This recent title in the 'Images of War' series from Pen and Sword books has a Kingfisher launching from its' catapult on board ship for the main cover photo, an impressive action shot to get our attention. One of a number of Naval themed titles in the series to come from author Philip Kaplan.
The content does go a little wider than WW2 as it suggests, as it starts with talking about the first purpose built carriers, or 'flattops', built in the early 1920s. With HMS Argus in the Royal Navy and the USS Langley in the USA, the first carriers came into service. They were unpopular with the admirals who liked their battleships, perhaps much the same as Cavalry officers disliked tanks.
What follows is the story of the carrier throughout WW2, and beyond. The Royal Navy had carriers in service at the outbreak of WW2, indeed HMS Courageous was sunk by U-29 as early as 17 September 1939, followed by HMS Glorious off Norway in 1940. However, the learning process continued and Swordfish launched from HMS Illustrious showed what naval air power could do when they successfully attacked the Italian Fleet at Taranto. This leads into the story of Pearl Harbour in 1941, when Japanese naval air power shocked the world and brought the USA into WW2. The story continues with the development of US Navy carriers, with fleet actions such as Midway and the Marianas Turkey Shoot. The other element not to be overlooked was the valuable service of the smaller Escort Carriers. The books shows the results of the new tactics and use of air power as the war progressed and how the carrier became such a vital part of the Navy.
Another chapter deals with Launch Time, and goes over the details of what is involved on deck to prepare and launch multiple aircraft. Of the dangers on deck and the development of the different colours worn by the deck crews on the US carriers of today. Throughout the book it is illustrated with stories of individual seamen and aircrew, telling their stories when in action. Two small sections at the end of the book cover the carrier in use in the Korean War and then one on 'Memories', with notes from aircrew about their memories of being involved with naval aviation.
Throughout the book it is well illustrated with archive photos. Among them are a fair number of more modern images, showing more modern aircraft and ships on top of the WW2 content. All are well captioned and add to the information in the main text. It is written in a very readable style, common to other titles by the same author.