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In my work, I study shipwrecks. It's what I do. When it comes to warships, however, my research often gets bogged down with the abbreviations for different types of anti-aircraft weapon - especially when I continually find the calibres for such equipment being variously described (in the same books!) in metric, imperial and what I personally call (though incorrectly!) `ancient.' Examples of these are; 50 mm, 4.7 inch and 3 pounder respectively (often all on the same ship!). Add to this the additional abbreviations of QF (Quick-firing), HA (High Angle) and so forth and those with an equal lack of expert knowledge to my own will begin to understand my frustration - especially when it leads to an inordinate amount of extra time given to the subject.

Norman Friedman, however, has finally come to my rescue by providing the most excellent work on Anti-Aircraft weaponry as used on various warships. This is a detailed study which deserves very little criticism and great credit for both author and publisher.

At first glance, this is what is commonly called a coffee table book (whatever image that conjures up?) measuring 29.2 x 24.6 x 3.2 cm with every one of its 398 pages packed tight with information, a plentiful supply of excellent historic photographs - showing every aspect of these weapons and more, in addition to the most detailed technical drawings and line drawings of the weapons themselves.

The work commences with: Abbreviations, Acknowledgements and a seven-page Introduction which really sets the scene for what is found inside. Chapters are mostly self-explanatory as follows: (1) An evolving threat, (2) Making anti-aircraft more effective, (3) Beginnings, (4) The inter-war Royal Navy, (5) The inter-war US Navy, (6) The inter-war Imperial Japanese Navy, (7) Other European Navies between the wars, (8) The Royal Navy at war, (9) The US Navy at war, (10) Axis navies at war and (11) Post war developments. The work then concludes with: Notes, Bibliography, an Appendix on Gun Data and an Index.

The main emphasis, therefore, is the defensive weapons used by the RN, USN and IJN between the two world wars and during WW2 itself. Other European navies are covered to a lesser extent with post-war developments being equally as brief. Russia is not included. My first criticism, therefore, is that the title of this book might have contained some form of sub-title which qualified the content.

Whilst this is a lengthy tome to assimilate, I earnestly believe it serves a number of purposes. For those with neither a naval nor gunnery background, this work explains the subject in a manner which allows the layman to understand the technical points without becoming either confused or bored. In addition, I would also think those who are more expert will learn much from the detailed coverage given.

My only other criticism concerns the Index. In the past I have occasionally complained about books without an Index (how else does anyone find a particular point they are seeking without having to read the entire book!) and, in this instance, I did find the Index inadequate. Whereas I am quite certain this work will remain my bible as far as Anti-Aircraft weapons of the period are concerned, I suspect I will be searching, searching and searching again for some relevant information which I know to be here (somewhere!) but which is insufficiently cross-referenced!

Having said all that, my criticisms are minor when compared to the product as a whole so do not be put off. This is a remarkable work and, without repeating any of the foregoing, gets top marks and is fully recommended.

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on 18 February 2014
Norman Friedman's work needs no introduction and this fine book continues his high standards. However it must be said that being a narrative history rather than a catalogue of weapons and directors makes it a somewhat difficult task to use as a reference book.

The Royal Navy and the U S Navy are covered in full detail, but the Axis and other navies have less information. The post 1945 period is confined to 15 pages only.

The good points
- The photos and other illustrations are superbly reproduced and numerous. Gloss paper has helped. The drawings from official manuals are particularly useful.
- The extended captioning of the photos is extremely good.
- The general text information and the 68 pages of footnotes are superb and introduces subjects and detail never covered properly before. For example the concise coverage of the RN Rocket and UP weapons is the best I've seen. Also little gems such as the fact the USN was able to install more AA weapons on their ships than the RN in the Pacific due to a deliberate policy of using boats brought to forward bases specifically for warship use, rather than carrying them on each warship. The British used valuable deck space carrying bulky, heavy, boats
- The text size, although small, is larger than the previous Seaforth offering, Hobbs " British Aircraft Carriers ", a blessing to those of us with reluctant eyesight.

The bad points
- There is only one Appendix, Gun data, which is by no means complete.
I feel very strongly that the book would have been greatly improved if a full listing of directors could have been provided, with a small photo/drawing of each. This could have been referenced to the pages in the main text and enabled quick identification of items seen in photos in other books.
- The Index is slightly erratic in coverage .

But still a superb book.

I would recommend purchase !
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on 16 May 2014
As an ex Chief Ordnance Artificer (Control) 1950-1965 I found it a good book to go down memory lane with. However for the casual reader there are one or two minor errors that I have come across, for example, where acronyms have been mistranslated and incorrect terminology is used. However, it does not distract from this extremely informative book.
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on 11 June 2014
Like most of Norman Friedman's works this is a well researched and authoritative book which however is not for the technologically faint-hearted. The rapid development of a new technology such as aircraft and their weapons required a comprehensive rethink of gunnery and the complex problems a rapidly moving aircraft could cause in terms of aiming and shooting them down. Friedman goes through all this in detail with ample illustrations. I think what emerges is the destruction of fallacies such as conservative RN officers...etc because it is perfectly obvious that given the length of time for a weapons system to be developed and deployed, aircraft and their tactics were developing faster than anti-aircraft guns could be deployed. All navies to some extent were caught flat foot especially by dive bombing.

The answer turned out to be a layered defence of aircraft under radar guided fighter control as an outer layer and then various weapons medium and short range to take on those that got through. The development of this system and it associated combat information centres and directors is well described by Friedman. I must confess to having to stop and think and reread passages of text in order to work out exactly how it all worked.

So if you want a quick fix on WWII read some popular texts if you like me look forward to in depth technical histories ones that you will read and reread over the years this is a good book.
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on 10 August 2014
Excellent book; Covering details of anti aircraft gunnery of first and second world war period with some mention of post war developments. Well illustrated; Divided by country and period.Excellent descriptions of Guns and Gun laying equipment, including some of the equipment which failed to see the light of day.
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on 13 April 2016
Just the book to give answers to some points of military interest to those like me who are considered as Anoraks as they do lots of military research to answer others questions.
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on 6 February 2015
A bit disappointing , would have liked to have seem more about range finding / optical support.
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on 24 October 2014
Well written and easy to read with a world of information put in a very well thought out order.
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on 19 July 2014
Exactly what I expected
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on 10 February 2015
Very good
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