OSPREY New Vanguard No 251
US Navy Escort Carriers
Reviewed by Al Bowie
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World War Two saw the rise of the Aircraft power and its eclipse of the Battleship as the primary Fleet asset but allied to this development was the introduction of the Escort Carrier which was no less important despite being overshadowed by its larger predecessor. Mark Stille, a retired Naval Officer and author of many Naval titles on the Pacific Naval campaign, adds to the ever-expanding Osprey New Vanguard line with a new title devoted to the unsung US Navy Escort Carriers of World War Two.
The Escort Carrier was a wartime expedient forced upon a reluctant Navy by the President who was an enthusiastic supporter of the concept which had briefly been flirted with in the 1920s due to the limitations of the naval treaties of the period.
The USN originally planned to convert passenger liners due to their high speed but instead built a concept on a converted merchantman and then converted a number of older cruisers.
It went on over the course of the war to build no fewer than 77 Escort Carriers for the US Navy and a staggering 38 more for the Royal Navy. They were initially opposed by the USN for their austere nature but were quickly adopted and developed into highly capable ships virtually the equivalent of Light Fleet Carriers except for their speed.
They served in a variety of roles and proved supremely versatile. They had a great effect in the battle of the Atlantic providing much need air cover for convoys and the hunter – killer teams that helped turn the U-boat tide in favour of the Allies. In the Pacific they were used in the Convoy escort and to provide ground support aircraft for amphibious assaults.
They even served in unexpected roles such as air defence for assaults and served as the centrepiece of an unexpected large naval engagement off the Philippines during the Battle of the Leyte Gulf.
Most importantly, they freed up the large Fleet Carriers for more offensive roles aimed at degrading Japanese capabilities. There role despite its successes and importance has often been forgotten and this title aims to give the reader a great understanding of these cheap but high value naval assets which greatly added to the USN War Effort and its successes.
USN Escort Carriers are the theme of this title and the book covers there history, development and service. It is broken down into informative well illustrated chapters covering:
The Rise of the Escort Carrier
The Evolution in Escort Carrier Design
Escort Carrier Air Groups
Escort Carrier Weapons and Radar
Escort Carriers at War
The Atlantic Theatre
The Pacific Theatre
Long Island and Charger
Commencement Bay Class
Analysis and Conclusion
This truly is a fascinating and informative subject and title which gives the reader a good insight into the genesis, development and the US Navy’s usage of the versatile and valuable Escort Carriers. It is backed up by a good collection of photos and excellent colour plates covering a variety of the subject Escort Carriers and some of the highlights of their brief service in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of war.
Combined with the colourful schemes and number of subjects in USN use the Escort Carrier is an interesting subject for the modeller and student of WWII Naval Warfare.
I’d highly recommend this title to historians, naval or WWII enthusiasts and of course, modellers.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the sample.
Review Copyright © 2019 by Al Bowie
This Page Created on 3 January, 2019
3 January, 2019
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