Aircraft carriers came of age in the Second World War, when they supplanted the great traditional capital ships as the strategic core of naval warfare. Operating from their mobile bases, able to fly in all but the worst weather, no longer limited in their potential range from the land, carrier aircraft could attack and defend with a freedom that changed the conduct of war at sea for ever. Thirty years of experiment and development had paid off handsomely.
The beginnings of the aircraft carrier were slow and difficult. Guy Robbins' detailed history tells of the early days in World War One, when seaplanes had to be lowered from the ship to take off from the sea, and whinched aboard again on their return. These impracticalities led eventually to aircraft that could take off and land from a long, flat deck. The author examines Royal Navy, American, and Japanese progress in career development and strategy through the interwar years, showing how naval powers gradually shifted their thinking to favour the carrier. Together with sharply reported accounts of wartime engagements, both successes and failures, this book offers a valuable new account of the most significant weapons platform to have emerged in the mid-20th century.