- Book reviewer
- Ship histories and stories, Book reviews, Royal Navy, Aviation
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
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- June 2004 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Royal Navy Escort Carriers
By Commander David Hobbs, MBE, Royal Navy
Published by Maritime Books in UK
Available at the Australian Maritime Museum bookshop at Darling Harbour.
£19.95 (approx A$50 – prices may vary).
Reviewed by Vince Fazio
David Hobbs has produced another fine book in his history of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. This book is about the so-called ‘Woolworth’ Carriers, which were instrumental in closing the ‘Air Gap’ in the Atlantic in World War II, as well as their far flung activities on the world’s oceans during that conflict.
The 44 ships listed are well covered in most cases by excellent photographs as well as a wide selection of unusual shots showing the activities in which these ships were employed. Some shots of the atrocious conditions in which they had to operate give a vivid account of their worth and their ability to operate aircraft in such conditions.
Smaller all round than the Colossus Class ships, nevertheless the internal photographs show a surprising degree of comfort, conditions, equipment and fittings, to enable them to conduct their operations in a very professional manner. This is particularly evident when it is realised that the majority of ships’ company and aircrew were Hostilities Only officers and sailors.
A potted history of each ship is listed, with at least one photograph covering that ship. The Appendices are comprehensive and provide a wealth of information and statistics for the class overall. These ships slotted between the big Fleet and Light Fleet carriers on the one hand and the Merchant Ship Aircraft Carriers (MACs) on the other, which were nowhere as comprehensively fitted out. In fact, the USN used some of them operationally during the Korean War.
The photographic tour in Appendix XI is worth the price of the book alone, showing equipment and fittings, which the average sailor would not know about. The author has a vast knowledge of aircraft carriers, attested by this and his previous book on the Royal and Commonwealth Navies carriers. Between them the books cover the ships that carried the burden and helped turn the tide of war. A copy will certainly be on my bookshelves.
Thoroughly recommended and at a price of £19.95 (approx A$50) this book is considered excellent value for money and will give enthusiasts and modellers the thrill they seek. David Hobbs is a member of the Naval Historical Society of Australia and has been out here several times on lecture tours.