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The Dawn of Carrier Strike (Hardback)

The World of Lieutenant W P Lucy DSO RN

Seaforth: General Seaforth Seaforth: Modern Naval Naval

By David Hobbs
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 386
ISBN: 9781473879928
Published: 6th March 2019

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Among all the celebrations of the RAF’s centenary, it was largely forgotten that the establishment of an independent air force came at a cost – and it was the Royal Navy that paid the price. In 1918 it had been pre-eminent in the technology and tactics of employing aircraft at sea, but once it lost control of its own air power, it struggled to make the RAF prioritise naval interests, in the process losing ground to the rival naval air forces of Japan and the United States.

This book documents that struggle through the cash-strapped 1920s and ’30s, culminating in the Navy regaining control of its aviation in 1937, but too late to properly prepare for the impending war. However, despite the lack of resources, British naval flying had made progress, especially in the advancement of carrier strike doctrine. These developments are neatly illustrated by the experiences of Lieutenant William Lucy, who was to become Britain’s first accredited air ‘ace’ of the war and to lead the world’s first successful dive-bombing of a major warship. Making extensive use of the family archive, this book also reproduces many previously unseen photographs from Lucy’s album, showing many aspects of life in the Fleet Air Arm up to the end of the Norway campaign.

Although it is beyond the scope of this book, in November 1940 the inter-war concentration on carrier strike was to be spectacularly vindicated by the air attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto – it inspired the Japanese to a far larger effort at Pearl Harbor the following year, but the Royal Navy had shown the way.

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Warship World

Liberally supplied with tables and photographs throughout (many of which I have never seen before), this excellent book has been written in a style that is eminently readable and makes compelling, dare I say essential, reading for the naval enthusiast. If you believe you already know most of what there is to know about this subject, then believe me – the chances are you don’t!

William Hawskworth, IPMS, 2.019

This is a significant contribution to the historiography of naval aviation.

Navy News Review, July 2019

Even though the book is concerned only with the period 1918 - 1940, this was an era of profound change, both rapid and tortoise-like in its development. David Hobbs analyses the tensions between the Royal Navy and the nascent Royal Air Force carefully and exposes the failures of policy caused by the lack of understanding on the part of the politicians of the meaning of air power. To what extent this was the result of the RAF feeling that it had to fight to maintain its status as an independent service is a question touched on, but not examined in depth, and, indeed, is an issue best explored elsewhere. Nevertheless, the author does the serious student of the evolution of naval air strategy and tactics a great service as he lays bare the errors made and their enduring consequences, lasting well into the Second World War.

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Rum Ration

Heavily illustrated, largely from the author’s own collection, with high quality research from official records, Lucy’s personal papers and authoritative secondary sources, this is a splendid book which contrasts the arrogance of blinkered bureaucracy with the highest levels of adaptability, innovation and personal heroism.

Australian Naval Institute

As to be expected from this author the research is impeccable and the very able text is well-supported by a great selection of images.

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Firetrench

Heavily illustrated, largely from the author’s own collection, with high quality research from official records, Lucy’s personal papers and authoritative secondary sources, this is a splendid book which contrasts the arrogance of blinkered bureaucracy with the highest levels of adaptability, innovation and personal heroism.

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Australian Naval Institute

The text is highly authoritative and in-depth and comes from one of the most respected authors in the field.

Watch the full video review here

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 David Hobbs

About David Hobbs

David Hobbs is a well known author and naval historian. He has written eight books and co-authored eight more. He writes for several journals and magazines and in 2005 won the Aerospace Journalist of the Year, Best Defence Submission. He lectures on naval subjects worldwide and has been on radio and TV in several countries.

He served in the Royal Navy from 1964 until 1997 and retired with the rank of Commander. He qualified as both a fixed and rotary wing pilot and his log book contains 2,300 hours with over 800 carrier landings, 150 of which were at night.

His extensive naval aviation experience gives his latest book 'A Century of Carrier Aviation' an authentic edge.

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