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U.s. Navy Attack Aircraft 1920-2020

de Norman Friedman

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1421,450,417 (4.5)3
U.S. Navy Attack Aircraft, 1920-2020 is uniquely told from the point of view of the Navy, as understood through its previously-classified documents. Spanning a century from the earliest airplanes conceived to operate from U.S. carriers in 1920, to the current F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Both the requirements and the available technology kept changing. In many cases the Navy drove the technology.   Norman Friedman is the first to take the requirements and the available technology into account to explain the choices the Navy made. The airplanes the Navy bought were always designers' attempts to meet specific demands set by the kind of warfare the Navy expected. The reader sees Navy successes and failures in guessing at the future. This is a unique way to understand the panoply of airplanes the Navy has relied on through the years, and why some succeeded but others failed.  … (mais)
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Though I always take Norman Friedman's books on warships seriously, almost without question, I do regard his other works a little more critically going in, as he tends to do a bit better with the particular detail than the general trend. Also, there is the matter that a library of books have been written about warplanes of the USN, so the question becomes what does Friedman bring to the table that's new. The answer is that this is really a book about the evolution of the USN's doctrine of air warfare, the maintenance of force levels, and the business of what ordnance to throw at the enemy, and how; filling up the interstices between that raft of existing type histories. I thought that this was great stuff, but Friedman was most illuminating about the early days of the process (Friedman ends with the F-35), as the USN asked itself the basic questions about how to deliver a torpedo by air on one hand, and how much its aircraft could be multi-purpose on the other.

As for whether you need this book, well, certain people who are very hard-core aircraft historians, or have a professional interest, probably do. However, at a list price of $100.00 I was happy to get it out of a library first. Also, I would note that while this book is described as hard-bound, that binding is cardboard with glued-on cover art; but it was produced in America so that counts for something I suppose (probably a commentary on collapsing supply chains). ( )
  Shrike58 | Apr 7, 2024 |
Norman Friedman is a name normally associated with books about American and British warship design, so to see him author a book on aircraft is somewhat unusual. Although he does touch on aircraft design in his 2016 work "Fighters Over the Fleet", this book published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press in 2021 marks a different path for this prolific writer.

At 471 pages, "U.S. Navy Attack Aircraft:1920-2020" is comparable in length to Friedman's ship design history books. The volume contains 13 numbered chapters, 5 appendices of aircraft data tables, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. This book, along with almost all of Friedman's titles, is extensively illustrated with photographs and drawings accompanied by detailed captions. The book begins with two chapters on the fleet's aircraft and aircraft carriers--introductory material that gives the reader the necessary background to understand the concepts revealed later in the text. The next four chapters cover the two aircraft types considered attack platforms during the prewar and World War II eras--dive bombers and torpedo bombers. Chapter 7 introduces the postwar development of naval attack aircraft based upon lessons learned from the Pacific War. Chapter 8 opens the discussion of the new mission for Navy attack aircraft after the war: nuclear strike, while Chapter 9 carries the discussion into the 1960's, considered the heyday of the Navy's carrier-based nuclear strike mission. Chapters 10 and 11 covers the Navy's reversion to conventional warfare, with Chapter 11 concentrating on the war in Vietnam. Chapter 12 takes the story to the end of the Cold War with the Navy's adoption of The Maritime Strategy. Chapter 13 completes the story to the present day and discusses the rise and development of stealth technology and naval attack aircraft.

I was intrigued to see Friedman author this book. He virtually invented the warship design history genre in the 1980's, while there are already many books out there on aircraft design histories--the Putnam Aeronautical histories come to mind. I was also puzzled to see author Tommy Thomason acknowledged in providing assistance to Friedman in writing this volume. Thomason's own work on this subject, "Strike From the Sea" (which I have reviewed earlier in LibraryThing) covers the same ground over the postwar period and provides an interesting contrast with Friedman's work. The differences between the authors, besides writing style, lies in the two authors' sources. Thomason bases his narrative on aircraft manufacturers' corporate archives, a somewhat unreliable source of research as corporate archives change over time along with company ownership and may not contain all the records they should. Friedman, on the other hand, depends upon government archives, either at NARA or at the Naval History and Heritage Command. The end result is Friedman's much more detailed treatment of the subject, although Thomason does present some rather unique illustrations in his work. A bonus from both authors comes from the selection of photographs in both books that contain a number of shots of Navy carrier aircraft carrying bomb dummy units (BDU), the training versions of the nuclear weapons with which U.S. Navy carriers were armed until 1992. These photographs were rarely published as the Navy seldom publicized the nuclear capabilities of its carriers (although the Soviets were more than familiar).

This is another rewarding read (at least for me) from this author. I have yet to be disappointed in buying one of his books. ( )
1 vote Adakian | Oct 6, 2022 |
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U.S. Navy Attack Aircraft, 1920-2020 is uniquely told from the point of view of the Navy, as understood through its previously-classified documents. Spanning a century from the earliest airplanes conceived to operate from U.S. carriers in 1920, to the current F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Both the requirements and the available technology kept changing. In many cases the Navy drove the technology.   Norman Friedman is the first to take the requirements and the available technology into account to explain the choices the Navy made. The airplanes the Navy bought were always designers' attempts to meet specific demands set by the kind of warfare the Navy expected. The reader sees Navy successes and failures in guessing at the future. This is a unique way to understand the panoply of airplanes the Navy has relied on through the years, and why some succeeded but others failed.  

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