The Fleet Air Arm and War in Europe

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For the first time, this book tells the story of how naval air operations evolved into a vital element of the Royal Navy's ability to fight a three-dimensional war against both the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. An integral part of RN, the Fleet Air Arm was not a large organization, with only 406 pilots and 232 front-line aircraft available for operations in September 1939. Nevertheless, its impact far outweigh its numbers; it was an RN fighter that shot down the first enemy aircraft of the war, and an RN pilot was the first British fighter "ace" with 5 or more kills. The Fleet Air Arm's rollcall of achievements in northern waters went on to include the Norwegian Campaign, the crippling of Bismarck, the gallant sortie against Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as they passed through the Channel, air attacks on enemy E-boats in the narrow seas, air cover for the Russian convoys, air attacks that disabled Tirpitz, and strikes and minelaying operations against German shipping in the Norwegian littoral that continued until May 1945. By the end of the war in Europe the FAA had grown to 3243 pilots and 1336 aircraft.
This book sets all these varied actions within their proper naval context and both technical and tactical aspects are explained with 'thumb-nail' descriptions of aircraft, their weapons and avionics. Cross reference with the Fleet Air Arm Roll of Honour has been made for the first time to put names to those aircrew killed in action wherever possible as a mark of respect for their determination against enemy forces on, above and below the sea surface which often outnumbered them.

The Fleet Air Arm and the War in Europe completes David Hobbs's much-praised six-volume series chronicling the operational history of British naval aviation from the earliest days to the present.

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Editorial Reviews

"In this masterly addition to his series on the Fleet Air Arm at war, David Hobbs addresses naval air operations in the Atlantic, the North Sea, the Arctic, and the English Channel. If some of the events may be familiar, the level of detail, depth of analysis and incisive conclusions transform the way we understand them. Successes and failures are analysed and explained with a naval aviator’s insight, paying close attention to the historical record and to the voices of those who took part, many of whom were from the Commonwealth. The use of German records to check claimed enemy losses adds a new level of authority to the judgements." —Warship