I have no idea where I picked up R. D. Layman's work, "Naval Aviation in the First World War: Its Impact and Influence." Amazon lists it as a 2008 book, but the copy I read was written and copyrighted by Layman in 1996, and first published in Great Britain by Chatham Publishing. Never having read much about the subject, which is narrowly confined to naval aviation as opposed to any other form of aviation, I anticipated that the book would be fascinating. However, the further I read, I found becoming more tired of the book and its story. Mr. Layman died in June, 1999 at the age of 71, and, by accounts was a highly knowledgeable expert. To be fair, the book does provide a host of interesting facts and stories that gave me a broader picture of both aviation in its early stages and World War I, or, as the author refers to it, "The Great War". I did, periodically, enjoy my time spent with Mr. Layman, which lasted only about 9 days, due to its brevity, 224 pages, including three appendices, a bibliography and its index, or 204 pages of story.
"Naval Aviation..." is not a badly written book, and not without value. In fact, it was fairly well written. Perhaps my problem is that the author resorted far too often to phrases like "this matter is beyond the scope of this work", or "this matter has been `too often discussed' in other works to discuss it here" after pricking my interest in his story, leaving me up in the air and unsatisfied. There were absolutely no maps in the book, which would have enhanced its usefulness to me. I had to resort to the internet to find places that are mentioned. Also, if you are a speaker of American English, you may have trouble with some of the distinctly British idioms Mr. Layman uses.
One of the main points he made that did impress me was that with aviation so new to all the nations, much of the story of naval application surrounds what it could NOT do, or failed to do because of a host of unforseen circumstances that were due solely to a lack of experience caused by a totally new technology. For example, they very seldom hit their targets with guns or bombs, but annoyed and distracted the enemy just by their presence in the air. And, perhaps that is part of my frustration with "Naval Aviation in the First World War...": I hoped for so much more than he provided that I am left with great curiosity about what he did NOT tell me, but lacking sufficient interest to locate and dig into a larger book on the subject. With naval aviation in WW I, the war ended before they could really get the technology to a reliable and effective level. With this book, the story ended before I got enough answers to satisfy me, but I was just glad it was over.
I was pleased with one other thing, in addition to the occasional informational gem. Each chapter was followed by notes and references that promise more answers.
One other comment must be made about the value of this book, as I see it. On Amazon there are four dealers with copies offered at around fifty dollars each. I do not consider this book worth any more than its original publication price, and certainly not fifty dollars. But I guess that depends on how badly you want the book and how patient you are with the authors occasional lapse into relatively insignificant details while leaving out some that would be interesting to the reader.