Over the past several years Naval History has examined various aspects of battleship history, but this issue focuses on those vessels' big-ship rivals. Four articles and a bonus centerfold explain the evolution of and operations on board aircraft carriers.
Naval aviation and Pacific war expert Barrett Tillman contributed three articles, beginning with "Forging the Weapon," which traces carriers' World War I emergence and development during the interwar years. In "The Carrier Comes of Age," he recounts the ships' World War II history and examines how the U.S. Navy wielded its powerful flattop force. As its title implies, "The Carrier War Remembered" is a collection of eyewitness accounts from carrier-plane pilots and officers on board the vessels. Ship-design historian Norman Friedman, meanwhile, focuses on key U.S. carrier developments in the 1920s in "Aided by Perception and Luck."
For this issue's bonus foldout, we homed in on a topic that made the U.S. carrier victories possible: flight-deck ops. Artists Karen Erlinger and James Caiella deserve chief credit for bringing this underappreciated aspect of World War II carriers to life. However, the depictions and explanations of flight-deck "choreography" on an Essex -class carrier would not have possible without valuable research assistance from two sources.
Jessica Williams, curator of history at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum ( www.intrepidmuseum.org ) gave us a tour of the carrier Intrepid and answered numerous questions. And Edward Atkins provided his "feet-on-the-flight-deck" perspective. A former plane-pusher on the Essex carrier USS Antietam (CV-36), he's the author of Flight Deck: A Pictorial Essay of a Day in the Life of an Airdale ( www.navy-wwii-memoir.com ).
Elsewhere in this issue, another World War II Navy veteran, Admiral James L. Holloway III, recounts his destroyer's role at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in "Second Salvo at Surigao Strait." Admiral Holloway also presents evidence that recasts his ship's role in sinking the Japanese battleship Yamashiro during the titanic Surigao night engagement.
Finally, as we neared press time, the search for a ship featured in Lieutenant Colonel Steven Eden's article, "Commodore Barney at the Bladensburg Races," was making news. The U.S. Navy, Maryland State Highway Administration, and Maryland Historical Trust have launched an effort to identify a War of 1812 shipwreck in the Patuxent River that may well be that of Joshua Barney's flagship, the gunboat Scorpion . You can keep up with their progress at www.scorpionarchaeology.blogspot.com .