Into the Jet Age: Conflict and Change in Naval Aviation, 1945-1975 : an Oral History

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E. T. Wooldridge
Naval Institute Press, 1995 - History - 321 pages
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U.S. naval aviation emerged from World War II unmatched in history for its offensive power and mobility, having expanded at an unprecedented rate to a fleet of ninety-nine carriers of all types and 29,125 combat aircraft. After war's end, however, this mix of offensive power and skilled manpower began to erode in alarming fashion. The abrupt shift from war to peace, followed by the onset of the "Cold War," precipitated periods of change so dramatic, intense, and revolutionary that naval aviation found itself in a fight for survival. In addition, advancing technologies such as jet propulsion, guided missiles, and atomic weapons began to effect fundamental changes in the entire fabric of U.S. naval aviation. The navy's immediate and pressing problem was to begin the evolutionary process of matching new technologies with obsolete weapons and doctrine, all the while maintaining an overseas presence and redefining roles and missions in the newly created national defense establishment.
The challenges associated with taking jet aviation to sea were aggravated by the need to respond to crisis after crisis on the littorals of practically every sea and ocean of the world. Twice in three decades violent peace gave way to so-called limited wars - Korea and Vietnam. Korea became a proving ground for carrier-based jet combat operations, and in Vietnam, aircrews contended with politically motivated constraints on their actions and a new and deadly element of aerial warfare - the surface-to-air missile.
This book is a tribute to the foresight, wisdom, and great courage of the navy's senior military leadership, who, during an era of demobilization, reorganization, unification, crises and wars, technological and scientific advances, and nationwide social upheaval, met the challenges and led the U.S. Navy into the jet age and to its present position as the preeminent naval force in the world.

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Transition to the Jet Age
Doing It in Rotation

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About the author (1995)

Wooldridge, a 1950 Naval Academy graduate, figher pilot, test pilot, and strategic plans and policy staffer at the Pentagon, worked at the National Air and Space Museum as chairman of the aeronautics department.

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