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Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery (ePub)

Seaforth Seaforth: Modern Naval

By Norman Friedman
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 32.5 MB (.epub)
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781473852846
eBook Released: 21st January 2014


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This book does for naval anti-aircraft defence what the author's Naval Firepower did for surface gunnery – it makes a highly complex but historically crucial subject accessible to the layman. It chronicles the growing aerial threat from its inception in the First World War and the response of each of the major navies down to the end of the Second, highlighting in particular the widely underestimated danger from dive-bombing. Central to this discussion is an analysis of what effective AA fire-control required, and how well each navy's systems actually worked. It also takes in the weapons themselves, how they were placed on ships, and how this reflected the tactical concepts of naval AA defence. As would be expected from any Friedman book, it offers striking insights – he argues, for example, that the Royal Navy, so often criticised for lack of 'air-mindedness', was actually the most alert to the threat, but that its systems were inadequate not because they were too primitive but because they tried to achieve too much.

The book summarises the experience of WW2, particularly in theatres where the aerial danger was greatest, and a concluding chapter looks at post-1945 developments that drew on wartime lessons. All important guns, directors and electronics are represented in close-up photos and drawings, and lengthy appendices detail their technical data. It is, simply, another superb contribution to naval technical history by its leading exponent.

This is a really massive work that covers in great detail, the means used by warships to shoot down attacking aircraft. It covers right from the very beginning of AA fire and details not only the weapons used, but the means of controlling them and the tactical doctrine of the navies using them. It is lavishly filled with photographs and illustrations and the discussion on means of controlling AA fire in various periods if very illuminating. I have re-read several sections because I found the contents not only interesting, but quite important to the understanding of how things worked...particularly in WW2. An AA weapon was not only as good as people using it and their training, it was also only as good as its control and director prediction of range, bearing, and where the target would be when AA fire arrived. I highly recommend this book, particularly to anyone writing wargames rules.

I give it ***** five stars because it is not only full of fascinating information and detail, but because the author has made it very readable as well.

Naval Blogger, Mal Wright

Overall [this] is a magnificent volume, which no serious student of naval warfare should be without.
No one, however good their previous knowledge, can read Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery without greatly improving their understanding of a form of warfare that was of key importance in the Second World War. The book is highly recommended as by far the best single source on the subject.

The Mariner's Mirror

Naval aerial warfare came to a prominence during World War 2 and this excellent volume details how a number of navies reacted to this threat.

MilitaryArchiveResearch - Dr Stuart C Blank

The book is well structured and the referencing, notes and bibliography are excellent.

Warship Annual

Seaforth and Norman Friedman have produced another monumental contribution to the technical history of 20th Century naval warfare. Overall, it is a magnificent volume, which no serious student of naval warfare should be without; no-one can read it without greatly improving their knowledge. There is therefore no excuse for not acquiring it.

Navy News

After a bit of a gap I am happy to have one of these impressive naval history books from Seaforth in front of me. As with the previous examples we’ve seen this one does not disappoint right from the beautiful cover showing Swordfish going to Valhalla during the Channel Dash.

Now, I have to admit I am hardly well versed in the history or technicalities of naval anti-aircraft gunnery, so I’ll stick with the basics and report that the book looks at the development of the weaponry from the Great War up until the introduction of missile technology changed the face of naval warfare. We see the guns themselves and the rapid advances in the array of predictors, computers and radar devices which aided them to shoot enemy planes down. The book is not confined to the great capital ships and there is plenty of interest in smaller vessels including some of the impressed paddle steamers of the type my grandfather served on up until his death in 1941. One of the highpoints of his time on HMS Southsea was when her crew shot down a German bomber in 1940 and achieved prominence in the wartime press.

The book looks predominantly at the British and American navies, but there is also much room for developments in Japan and the other Axis powers. This is one of those rare occasions when I admit I haven’t read the whole thing from cover to cover and, it’s true, the subject is a tad niche, but I find these books so attractive I am quite happy leafing through the pages to see stunning archive photography with extensive captions. This led me to read more extensively and I was struck by the sheer quality of the text.

The book looks at the kind of weapons used against shipping by aircraft, which includes the early German guided weapons. Throughout its pages you can gauge how meticulous the author has been. All the important developments from better gun mounts to ammunition feeds and the really clever stuff, the radar and the predictor equipment are explained. Perhaps more than any other, this is the field which took the biggest leaps in quality as World War II progressed.

Unlike the glorious reference works of ships great and small I like so much, this one is a lot more specific and is obviously based at the more specialist reader. But it is another example of how to produce the highest quality histories and reference works and if this is a field of interest to you, I would suggest the book is a must have.

War History Online

Every so often, a book is published that will prove the definitive work on its subject. This is such a book...and copies are likely to fly off the shelf for private and professional libraries around the world.

Highly recommended.


A splendid book on naval weaponry. Magnificently illustrated with photographs and drawings throughout, this outstanding book is exceptional and will clearly be the essential reference source on naval anti-aircraft guns and gunnery. Most highly recommended for technical experts, naval historians and enthusiastic amateurs.

Scuttlebutt - Journal of the Friends of the Royal Naval Museum
 Norman Friedman

About Norman Friedman

Norman Friedman is a strategist known for his ability to meld historical, technical, and strategic factors in analyses of current problems. He has frequently appeared on television, and he has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on naval topics. His forty books include, for Seaforth, two-volume histories of British cruisers and destroyers, a history of naval gunnery in the battleship era (Naval Firepower), a history of naval anti-aircraft gunnery during the two World Wars (Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery), World War I Naval Weapons, and, most recently, Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology. A history of British battleships is currently in preparation. All of these books are based largely on primary documents created by the Royal Navy and related organizations. As a result, they tend to shed new and sometimes surprising light on what might seem to be well-understood events and developments. All of them reflect Dr. Friedman’s interest in the way in which national strategy and policy and technology intersect. Dr. Friedman has also contributed articles on current naval technology to the annual Seaforth Naval Review. He wrote a series of design histories of U.S. warships, ranging from aircraft carriers to small combatants, based on U.S. Navy internal papers, five editions of a guide to world naval weapon systems, and accounts of trade-offs in warship (including submarine) design and naval radar technology. Other topics range from the role of space systems in naval warfare, the character of modern naval command and control (network-centric warfare), recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to histories of the Cold War, to naval strategy and to naval technology, including the possible role of unmanned (but armed) aircraft in carrier operations.

Dr. Friedman’s Cold War history, The Fifty Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War, won the 2001 Westminster Prize as the best military history book of the previous year, from the British Royal United Services Institute. To date he is the only American to have been so honored. His Seapower as Strategy won the Samuel Eliot Morrison prize awarded by the Naval Order of the United States in November 2001.

After receiving a Ph.D. as a theoretical physicist at Columbia University, Dr. Friedman spent eleven years at a New York think tank, the Hudson Institute, headed by Herman Kahn, who was famous both as a futurologist and as a strategist. Much of his work there involved writing scenarios for possible future conflicts -- many in places which are still of great interest, such as Korea. Scenario-writing demands the ability to focus on the essentials of a situation, and on the forces likely to drive it. Dr. Friedman left Hudson as Deputy Director for National Security Studies. He then spent a decade as in-house consultant to the Secretary of the Navy. Among his projects for that office was a series of studies of likely future developments in various areas, beginning with the fundamentalist Muslim uprising then enveloping Algeria, and including likely developments around the Indian Ocean. Other projects included a contribution to the formulation of post Cold War U.S. naval strategy and participation in a study of the future of U.S. surface warships. Dr. Friedman served as futurologist for the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in 2002-2004. In 2013 he wrote a history of the MRAP (Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected) vehicle program as a study in successful rapid (unconventional) procurement, under contract to the MRAP Joint Program Office. He has also written an official history of U.S. Navy air defense missile systems (including anti-ballistic missile systems).

Topics Dr. Friedman has studied under contract to government agencies and to major government contractors have included the nature of future naval warfare, the defense transformation effort (as reflected in attempts to develop network-centric types of warfare), naval command and control as a model for network-centric warfare, the development of U.S. and British aircraft carriers (for the Naval Sea Systems Command and for the Office of Net Assessment, respectively, the latter as a study in defense transformation and the adoption of foreign innovations), missile defense, the future shape of the U.S.Marine Corps, the contribution of the U.S. Coast Guard to homeland defense, the future of the U.S. aerospace industry, the potential development of precision weapons, the U.S. industrial capacity for industrial mobilization, U.S. strategic targeting strategy and competitive policies, scenarios for conflict in Europe and Asia, the cost of current and future naval aircraft, nuclear proliferation (incentives and deterrents), prospects for torpedo countermeasures, the possible future shape of mine countermeasures, and the tactics of long-range anti-ship missiles, The naval missile study, conducted at the Naval War College, contributed towards the U.S. Navy’s technique for targeting anti-ship Tomahawk and was an early example of network-centric warfare. The paper which resulted from this study was said to have been very influential in the navy’s adoption of what amounted to network-centric concepts.

Dr Friedman served on the 1989 U.S. Navy study of future surface combatant characteristics and later on a navy panel reviewing U.S. Navy R&D on ship hull and machinery topics. He gave the keynote address to a classified ONR meeting on the future of surface combatants, looking out 25 to 50 years and taking Moore’s Law into account in evaluating the likely prospects of stealthy ships. During 2010 Dr. Friedman contributed to a National Academy of Sciences study of the future of shipbuilding in the United States.

Dr Friedman has lectured widely in forums such as the U.S. Naval War College, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the Air War College, the Australian , British, and Canadian junior and senior national staff colleges, the Royal United Services Institute, the British Ministry of Defence, and at a series of seminars for the Naval Air Systems Command managed by the University of Virginia. In the fall of 2002 Dr. Friedman served as the Royal Australian Navy’s Synott Professor, lecturing on seapower in several Australian cities. He was keynote speaker at Royal Australian Navy historical conferences, in 2009 on the theme of Commonwealth naval cooperation and in 2013 on World War I as a maritime war. In 2014 he was a keynote speaker at the Royal Navy Museum conference on the Anglo-German Naval Arms Race leading up to World War I.

For some years Dr.Friedman was Visiting Professor of Operations Research at University College, London, concerned mainly with the formulation and consequences of ship operational requirements. For about thirty years Dr. Friedman has presented numerous commercial lectures (for defense and and naval professionals) on various defense topics. A hallmark of these lectures is their firm grounding in current international political and social trends, rather than simply in technology or in military considerations.

Dr. Friedman writes a monthly column on world and naval affairs for the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. His writing has appeared widely in periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Naval Forces, Military Technology, Jane’s Navy International, Jane’s International Defence Review, Joint Forces Quarterly, Asia Pacific Defence Reporter, and Naval History.

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