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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic technical facts are incorrect, 15 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War (Hardcover)
I have immense respect for Correlli Barnett and his great insight into economic and military history but this volume has too many basic technial errors with which he berates the Navy.
For instance when describing the sinking of Force Z he states that the Japanese "used "24" torpedos with warheads of 1,210-pound, as against the 18" torpedos with 300-pound warheads used by the Fleet Air Arm..."

Only he is referring to the wrong torpedo, the one he describes is only used in Japanese submarines. The correct torpedo is the Type 91 Mod 1 or 2 which is an 18" torpedo with a warhead of 331lb or 452lb, ie exactly like the Fleet Air Arm ones.

Likewise when describing the Channel Dash " This futile attack with its tragic loss of brave men offers a bitter tactical contrast with the Japanese attacks on Prince of Wales.... Obscelete Swordfish with their top speed of 154 mph could not compare with the twin engined G3M Navy Type 96s with their top speed of 232 mph... Admiralty's and Air Ministry's peacetime neglect of martiime strike aircraft...."

So he comparing a carrier aircraft with a land based martime strike aircraft. A fairer comparison would be between the Swordfish and the B5N Kate and the Bristol Beaufort/Beaufighter and the Nell or Betty. The former flies at 265 mph and the latter at 232 mph and with better armour and defences albeit with less range, the RAF plane is the better option. What is strange is that only two paragraphs below he describes the later attack by 28 Beauforts!

Of course the real reason why the British lacked martime strike aircraft was that their main war effort was directed to bomber attacks against Germany and martime search aircraft defending convoys across the Atlantic. The small German North Sea convoys and the only slightly larger Italian convoys and infrequent naval excursions in the Mediterranean hardly justified a major British commitment to a martime strike force.

Likewise in discussing the naval building programme at the start of 1942, there is none of the incisive economic insight into why Britian failed to complete any new carriers or battleships during the war. In this important aspect of the decisions taken at the pivotal point of the war, a few general statement suffice.

None of this should detract from a fine general history of Britain's war at sea, nonetheless it does take the shine off an otherwise excellent book.
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