Ben Jones (Ed.), The Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War (Ashgate for the Navy Records Society, 2012)

In 1969, The Navy Records Society published Documents Relating to the Royal Naval Air Service: Volume 1, 1908-1918. This was edited by Stephen Roskill and it was intended to be thethe first in a series of volumes on the history of the Royal Naval Air Service and Fleet Air Arm. Alas, Roskill never got around to finishing this project. Some of the reasons as to why this was the case is explored in Barry Gough‘s Historical Dreadnoughts. Nontheless, Ben Jones of the Air Power Studies Division at the RAF College, Cranwell, has now stepped in the breach with the first of three volumes of documents relating to the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. Given that the retail price for this volume is £70, I think £40 for membership to The Navy Records Society, which entitles you to this volume, is a worthwhile investement.

Here is the blurb form the Ashgate website:

This is the first of three volumes detailing the history of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers and naval air squadrons, during the Second World War. It deals with the formative period between 1939 and 1941 when the Fleet Air Arm tried to recover from the impact of dual control and economic stringencies during the inter-war period while conducting a wide range of operations. There is in depth coverage of significant operations including the Norwegian campaign, Mediterrranean actions such as the attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto and the Battle of Cape Matapan, and the torpedo attacks on the German battleship Bismarck. Incidents involving the loss of and damage to aircraft carriers, including the sinking of Ark Royal, one of the most famous ships in the early years of World War Two, are also reported. Of major importance are key planning and policy issues. These include the requirements for aircraft carriers, the evolving debate regarding the necessary types of aircraft and attempts to provide sufficient facilities ashore for naval air squadrons. A wide range of official documents are used to enable the reader to appreciate the complexity of the operations and other issues which faced the Fleet Air Arm.


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