In the early 20th century, during the days of the dreadnaughts, innovators in Europe and North America began to fly contraptions made from wood, canvas, wire, and a small combustion engine. Naval officers soon wondered whether these rickety bi-planes could be launched from the deck of a surface vessel. Trials began from jury-rigged wooden platforms built upon the decks of colliers. The experiments stimulated enough interest for the navies of the world to begin building better aircraft and better aircraft carriers. The novelty of a ship that could carry its own airstrip anywhere on the world's oceans caught fire in the 1920s and helped induce a new arms race. While the rest of the world viewed carriers as defensive weapons, Japan focused on offensive capabilities and produced the finest carrier in the world by 1940. World War II would see the carrier emerge as the greatest surface ship afloat. Since then, no war has been fought without them.
In any given period, argues McBride, some technologies initially threaten the navy's image of itself. Professional jealousies and insecurities, ignorance, and hidebound traditions arguably influenced the officer corps on matters of technology as much as concerns about national security, and McBride contends that this dynamic persists today. McBride also demonstrates the interplay between technological innovation and other influences on naval adaptability—international commitments, strategic concepts, government-industrial relations, and the constant influence of domestic politics. Challenging technological determinism, he uncovers the conflicting attitudes toward technology that guided naval policy between the end of the Civil War and the dawning of the nuclear age. The evolution and persistence of the "battleship navy," he argues, offer direct insight into the dominance of the aircraft-carrier paradigm after 1945 and into the twenty-first century.
The second edition of Historical Dictionary of the United States Navy covers U.S. Naval developments, personnel, and engagements from the colonial times to the present day. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 600 cross-referenced dictionary entries on people, places, events and other terminology of the Navy. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the United States Navy.
Divided into twelve sections, the book delves into the structure of naval power from the Board of Admiralty and shore commands to officers and crews, their recruitment and training, daily life and discipline. The roles of the Reserves, Merchant Navy, Royal Marines and Wrens within this structure are also explained. Developments in ship design and technology, as well as advances in intelligence, sensors and armament are all discussed and set in context. The different divisions are dealt with one by one, including the Submarine Service, Fleet Air Arm, Coastal Forces, and Combined Operations. The text is complemented by over 300 illustrations and the personal accounts of those who served.