- Series: Bluejacket Books
- Paperback: 488 pages
- Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 1st Edition, thus edition (April 15, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1557509808
- ISBN-13: 978-1557509802
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Little Giants: U.S. Escort Carriers Against Japan (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – April 15, 2012
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About the Author
William T. Y'Blood, a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and later in commercial aviation, served as a historian for the Air Force. The author of eight books on World War II aviation topics, he died in 2006.
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Instead they were lugging replacement aircraft to the fleet carriers or sailing around the beaches during an amphibious assault to provide close air support planes. To me, it just doesn't make for as interesting subject material as chasing down submarines.
When the Philippines are invaded, you do get to see interesting action that is explained by Y'Blood excellently. One thing that stood out to me was how the damage control procedures on the different carriers seemed to make a difference if the carriers survived the invasion or are sitting on the bottom of the ocean surrounding the islands.
This book focuses solely on the war in the Pacific where naval airpower was the decisive weapon in naval combat. In the early part of the Pacific war, the need for carriers was desperate and the decision was made to convert merchant hulls into small carriers. Later, Henry Kaiser, maker of the prolific "Liberty" ships, began building small carriers on those hulls.
I think the author covered the career of these small ships well, stressing the difference between the CVE carriers and the "big boys" - the fast, glamorous fleet carriers as well as the types of jobs the escort carriers found themselves in - everything from anti-submarine warfare to transporting replacement aircraft and pilots for the main, fleet carriers to support for invasion fleets specializing in ground attack and even artillery spotting.
The author did an excellent job of covering the routine air operations as well as the desperate combat against Japanese air and surface forces. There is a lot of the kind of "action" here that any WWII reader wants: the fighter pilots desperately trying to shoot down there Japanese opponents, the TBM crews bombing enemy positions on land as well as enemy vessels at sea including submarines. Of course, the author shines light on the "jeep" carriers' finest hour in the Battle off Samar when the small escort carriers took on the big guns of Japanese battleships and cruisers.
The tales of combat are wonderful to read. Also, I would point out the excellent pictures (sadly, all black & white) of the CVE carriers and their aircraft in combat operations. This is a bonus.
My criticisms are two-fold: firstly, I would have liked more specifications to know the difference between the various classes of CVE's. Secondly, why were some CVE's armed differently than others even though they were performing the same tasks? It seemed to me that the Chenango and Suwannee type carriers were armed with F6F Hellcat fighters while the Kaiser/Casablanca-class ships had to make do with FM2 Wildcat fighters which were clearly obsolete and seemed to me to be less effective at combat air patrols.
In spite of my relatively mild criticisms, I think this is an excellent work on a topic that clearly doesn't get enough "press" - the small, escort carriers of WWII. In an age of budget cuts, could there be a role for the small carrier in the future US Navy? This is an excellent work that is also an enjoyable read. I recommend this book with four stars.