I think the author did a good job of showing how IJN carrier design changed over time. He also showed the poor anti-aircraft armament these carriers were equipped with.
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The author gives a brief operational history of the Japanese carrier force from the war in China through the early war in the Pacific through their complete destruction as the industrial might of the US out-produced Japan in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Although Osprey books cannot give the reader a really in-depth treatment of any subject, they do a good job of giving a reader the essentials.
I thought this was a good book which gave me a good, basic understanding of Japanese carrier design and operational history. I recommend this book with four stars. Stunningly good artwork. As such, it does an excellent job of considering their shortcomings and strengths, noting for instance that no Japanese carrier started the war with its own radar.
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Also, while all Osprey New Vanguard books tend to have great illustrations, the artwork here is fabulous even buy those high standards. I have been doing research on IJN carriers and wanted a source of information to answer some questions I had.
This book is not a large book, but it does cover information and specific things about these carriers that I had no idea of. There are some interesting pictures to view and I think this is a great book of reference should you be interested in these mighty but flawed warships. Very good summary of Japanese aircraft carrier design and approach to aircraft carrier operations and ship and aircraft handling on board. The book doesn't goive much more detail on the ships than is provided in A. Watts and B. Gordon's book The Imperial Japanese Navy. For the best account of Japanese ship handling and airplane handling on board their aircraft carriers, you must read Shattered Sword by Jonathon Parshall and Anthony Tully.
If you already have those two books, then you probably don't need to get this one. Still, it gives a good summary for 48 pages.
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It also contains quite a few photos of the Japanese aircraft carriers that I had never seen before. As the author notes in his introduction, it does not cover the Japanese seaplane carriers or hybrid carriers, which were not really carriers in the traditional sense, so I can agree with their not being included in this short book.
The author provides a short summary of every carrier class and individual carriers within that class for all 25 Japanese carriers. He notes when they were built, how they were used operationally, what upgrades were made to them, and what each ship's eventual fate was. He also provides a brief analysis of which classes were successful and which weren't.
The book also includes many black and white pictures of the carriers, as well as some eye-popping illustrations.
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