US Cold War Aircraft Carriers

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Brad Elward, illustrated by Paul Wright
Other Publication Information
48 glossy pages filled with text, 30 color photos, 11 black-and-white photos, 2 black-and-white drawings, and 7 color paintings and diagrams.
Product / Stock #
NVG 211
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

Thank you very much to the wonderful folks at Osprey Publishing for providing this new publication for review. Thanks are also due to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me the opportunity to explore a wonderful documentation and fascinating historical description of the earliest super carriers.

On opening the book you will find 48 glossy pages filled with text, 30 color photos, 11 black-and-white photos, 2 black-and-white drawings, and 7 color painting and diagrams. The softcover binding is 9.75 x 7.25 inches and a little less than a quarter-inch thick, with a color photo of the U.S.S America off the starboard bow. In 8 chapters, Mr. Elward provides a brief historical introduction explaining the roots of these early super carriers, and focuses on the Forrestal, Kitty Hawk and Enterprise classes. I appreciate the thorough bibliography and index.

The introduction and second chapter outline the origins of the carrier and descendant super carrier. These two chapters are an excellent and needed background to the following more-detailed chapters. The stunning success of the World War II carrier force and equally stunning post-war reduction of that force, coupled with the demands of larger, heavier and faster jet aircraft, all highlighted the need for a new breed of carrier. The never-built vision of that new breed of carrier was the United States, CVA-58. The United States design incorporated many new ideas, some of which are used today. The political fighting and bargaining of that era is well described and made me feel lucky that we have any super carriers today. The latter part of the second chapter describes how the Forrestal class grew with repurposed concepts of the United States in the highly-charged fiscal environment of the 1950s. The three classes that followed the cancelled United States are described in order of development and refinement starting with the Forrestal, a very different yet similar ship to the United States. The new types of structures, flight deck and hangar bays of this first actual super carrier are described from both physical and operational perspectives. The advantages of the angled flight deck and subsequent changes to launch and recovery operations are succinctly characterized in a very readable format. New methods of supply storage, defensive systems, electronics and propulsion are presented, all in the context of supporting new aircraft designs.

Each chapter lists and summarizes the details, differences and deployments of each example in the Forrestal, Kitty Hawk and Enterprise classes. Excellent color drawing and paintings allow comparisons between the three classes. The first nuclear carrier is of course the Enterprise, CVAN-65, whose propulsion system provided a much greater bunker capacity for aviation fuel. After I read this section, one of the last in the book, I really gained a deeper appreciation for the development time and service life of these first super carriers. The timing of this publication is perfect; Enterprise took her last voyage in 2012 after 50-plus years of service, and her trip to retirement is told. Cold War Aircraft Carriers describes the immediate ancestors of the Nimitz and Ford classes, who are now within their own evolution of concept and design, making one wonder what the new view from Vulture’s Row and Pri-Fly will be.


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