British Aircraft Carriers: Volume 1 - Hermes, Ark Royal and the Illustrious Class

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Robert Brown
‏‎ 978-1399036269
Other Publication Information
64 Pages, 8.3 x 11.7 in, 60 color illustrations, 60 mono illustrations
Product / Stock #
Company: Seaforth Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site

The Shipcraft series will be familiar to many, but for those who aren’t, the idea behind the books is to provide concise information about a specific subject, providing heavily illustrated reference material and in-depth modelling information including line drawings and color profiles. This latest 64-page paperback volume in the series features a bevvy of British aircraft carriers from the 20s through the 40s, specifically, HMS Hermes, HMS Ark Royal and the Illustrious Class. These ships were the first British carriers designed as such from the beginning, as opposed to others ships that were converted either on the stocks or post-build. Hermes, indeed, was the first in the World to be so designed, although her completion took so long that she wasn’t the first to actually enter service.

The Ark Royal was only the second British carrier designed as such from the start but relied heavily on the lessons learned from previous conversions to produce a very capable ship. She remained a one-off though, as the subsequent Illustrious class were designed to be more survivable in hostile waters with heavy armor reducing their aircraft capacity, though they proved to be very long-lived and capable vessels.

Author Robert Brown starts with a chapter on Design History that takes us from the initial design of the Hermes in 1915 to the heavily modified Victorious of the 1960s. This is followed by a listing of major operations undertaken by these carriers. The meat of the modelling side of the book is next, which reviews all the kits available for these types from 1/2000 scale to the recent 1/350 Merit Ark Royal, plus aftermarket items that are available for some of these kits. A Modelmakers’ Showcase has some stunning builds in sales ranging from 1/700 to a scratchbuilt 1/192 Illustrious.

Modelers will be pleased by the full-colour profile section, while they will also find the selection of scale plans handy, though unfortunately no scales are given for these. Another useful section is one that succinctly details the changes to each carrier over time, including colour schemes and armament fits. The inside back cover includes a selection of relevant reference materials. The book has over 100 colour and black-and-white photos, mostly of very good quality and which will be useful for the modeller who wants to add a bit more detail.

All in all, this is a slim, but info-packed monograph that is a boon for the British carrier fan. Given the relative dearth of good reference material on British aircraft carriers, this is a welcome volume, and one that I hope will be followed up by further books on other British carriers. Much appreciated and recommended.

My thanks to Casemate for the review sample.


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