Admiral John S. McCain and the Triumph of Naval Air Power

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Published:April 15, 2019
By William F. Trimble (Author)

Admiral John S. McCain and the Triumph of Naval Air Power covers the life and professional career of Adm. John S. McCain Sr. (1884–1945). Spanning most of the first half of the twentieth century, McCain’s life and career highlight the integration of aviation into the Navy, emphasizing the evolution of the aircraft carrier from a tactical element of the fleet stressing sea control to a strategic force capable of long-range power projection.

Although much of the book focuses on carrier aviation, McCain was instrumental in the emergence of flying boats, considered essential for long-range reconnaissance in the Pacific. One of the senior officers branded as “Johnny-Come-Latelys” by pioneer aviators, McCain nevertheless brought fresh approaches and innovation to naval aviation. His prewar and initial wartime commands encompassed tender-based and shore-based aviation, which were critical to early operations in the Pacific, yet McCain also understood the power and potential of carrier-based aviation, initially as commanding officer of the USS Ranger (CV-4) before the war, then as a carrier task force commander under Adm. William F. Halsey in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945. Moreover, he served tours as Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics and the first Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) in 1942–1944. In these posts he witnessed and played a role in the culmination of naval air power as a means of delivering crippling blows to the enemy’s homeland. McCain was among only a handful of officers who achieved prominence during the war and who had experience in all of these varied and challenging levels of command.

List Price: $38.00
Member Price: $22.80
Product Details
  • Subject: Biography & Memoirs
  • Hardback : 416 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1682473705
  • ISBN-13: 9781682473702
  • Product Dimensions: 6.25 X 9.125 in
  • Shipping Weight: 29.6 oz
  • “William Trimble’s new biography of Adm. John S. (‘Slew’) McCain is one of the finest naval history books to appear in years. His analysis of McCain’s life and many contributions to naval aviation and the U.S. Navy as a whole is fundamental to understanding the Navy’s part in winning the Pacific War. The work is exceptionally well researched and scrupulously objective, without exaggerating McCain’s successes or whitewashing his failures.” —John B. Lundstrom, author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral
  • “Bill Trimble, whose previous works have chronicled several notable figures in Naval Aviation, has produced an outstanding biography of John McCain, one of the pioneering naval aviators who transformed naval air power from a tactical supplement of the fleet to a powerful striking force that could project power from the sea. Under McCain and other flag officers, naval air power, organized into multicarrier task forces, evolved from a tactical supplement to the battle fleet dedicated to sea control and protecting sea lines of communication into an independent strategic striking force. By the end of World War II, the aircraft carrier was capable of a sustained forward presence and could proj­ect power from the sea in ways no one could have imagined only a decade before. McCain and others witnessed and took part in this transformation, which shaped and was shaped in the crucible of global war. From other his­torians we know the broad contours of this change in the strategic seascape, but only a few have filled in the particulars. The life and naval career of John McCain provides a lens to bring those details into sharper focus.” —Thomas Wildenberg author of All the Factors of Victory: Adm. Joseph Mason Reeves and the Origins of Carrier Air Power

WILLIAM F. TRIMBLE is professor emeritus at Auburn University. His most recent book is Hero of the Air: Glenn Curtiss and the Birth of Naval Aviation. He is also the author of Wings for the Navy: A History of the Naval Aircraft Factory, 1917–1956; Admiral William A. Moffett: Architect of Naval Aviation; Jerome C. Hunsaker and the Rise of American Aeronautics; and Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy’s Seaplane Striking Force, among other books and articles. He lives in Auburn, Alabama.

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