Book Review: A Century of British Naval Aviation, 1909-2009


by David Wragg

Barnsely, So Yorks: Pen & Sword/Philadelphia: Casemate, 2009. Pp. xi, 252. Illus., maps, diagr., append., notes, biblio., index. $39.99. ISBN: 1848840365

Wragg, author of Fighting Admirals of World War II,  Fighter Operations in Europe and North Africa, 1939-1945, and many other works on naval and aviation history gives us a survey of the complex history of aviation in the Royal Navy.

Wragg covers not only airplanes, but also airships, blimps, and helicopters.  His treatment of the important formative era through the end of World War I is particularly good, though that of the interwar period is too short to help explain the successes and failures of the Fleet Air Arm during World War II.  For that war, however, the account is excellent, and there is a particularly valuable look at American support to the British prior to Pearl Harbor, and a very good account of the oft-neglected British Pacific Fleet. Events since 1945 are well covered, as are the complex problems of British naval aviation in the post-war period.  Throughout there is frequent discussion of the problems British naval aviation has had with the Royal Air Force and budget cutters. 

An important work for those interested in naval aviation, the Royal Navy, and sea power in the twentieth century.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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