Historian and author Norman Friedman will discuss his book, “Fighters Over the Fleet: Naval Air Defence from Biplanes to the Cold War,” at Seamen’s Church Institute in Newport, Rhode Island on March 1 at noon.
The book lecture will provide an account of the parallel evolution of naval fighters for fleet air defense and the ships they sought to defend, concentrating on the three main advocates of carrier warfare: the Royal navy, the U.S. Navy, and the Imperial Japanese navy.
Because radar was not invented until the mid-1930s, fleet air defense was a primitive effort for flyers during the 1920s. Once the innovative system was developed and utilized, organized air defense became viable. Thus, major naval-air battles of World War II — like Midway, the “Pedestal” convoy, the Philippine Sea and Okinawa — are portrayed as tests of the new technology. However, even radar was ultimately found wanting by the Kamikaze campaigns, which led to postwar moves toward computer control and new kinds of fighters. After 1945, the novel threats of nuclear weapons and stand-off missiles compounded the difficulties of naval air defense.
This discussion will cover the U.S. and Royal navies’ attempts to resolve these problems by examining the U.S. experience in Vietnam and British operations during the Falklands War. The lecture will also discuss U.S. development of techniques and technology to fight the Outer Air Battle in the 1980s, before concluding with the current state of technology supporting carrier fighters.
Friedman has been concerned throughout his career with the way in which policy and technology intersect, in fields as disparate as national missile defense, nuclear strategy and network-centric warfare. An internationally known strategist and naval historian, he spent more than a decade at a major U.S. think-tank, and another decade as consultant to the secretary of the Navy. Friedman has written more than 40 books on naval strategy and technology, including an award-winning account of the U.S. Cold War strategy and the histories of British, Commonwealth and U.S. aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines. He contributes a monthly column on world naval developments to the Naval Institute’s Proceeding magazine and writes articles for journals worldwide. Friedman holds a Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University and lectures widely on defense issues in forums such as the National Defense University, the Naval War College and the Royal United Services Institute.
For more information, call Liz DeLucia, Director of Education, at (401) 841-7276
For more information about The Seamen's Church Institute, visit http://seamensnewport.org/