Book Review
Torpedo Bombers 1900-1950
Torpedo Bombers 1900-1950
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


The aircraft that were designed or modified to be used as torpedo bombers tend to make for interesting modelling subjects due to some very interesting designs and alterations made to aircraft to enable torpedoes to be successfully dropped and accurately aimed at their targets. This offering from Pen and Sword looks to provide the reader with a good knowledge of these aircraft.

The following is the introduction as provided by Pen and Sword:
The torpedo-bomber was a very short-lived weapon system, operational for scarcely half a century from just prior WWI to the 1960s. Yet during its brief existence it transformed naval warfare, extending the ship-killing range of ships and coastal defences to hundreds of miles. The Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm led the way, recording the first sinking of a ship by aerial torpedo in August 1915 but all major navies eagerly developed their own torpedo bomber forces.

The torpedo-bomber reached its zenith in WWII, particularly from 1940-42, with notable successes at the Battle of Taranto, the sinking of the Bismarck and Pearl Harbor. It was the weapon of choice for both the US and Japanese in the big Pacific battles such as Midway. In the latter stages of the war, increasingly effective anti-aircraft fire and interceptor aircraft started to render it obsolete, a process completed post-war by long-range anti-ship missiles.

Jean-Denis Lepage traces the development of torpedo bombers worldwide, describing their tactics, operational history and the aircraft themselves, including such well-loved types as the Swordfish, Beaufighter and Avenger. Over 300 aircraft are beautifully illustrated.


This offering from Pen and Sword is a hard backed book authored by Jean-Denis Lepage. There are 394 pages of a heavy stock matte paper that should last well. The pages appear to be stitched which is a sign of high quality, but I cannot be 100% sure as it is difficult to see; however the weight of this book does give an idea of the quality of the physical product. The books contents are laid out as follows:

Part One - Early Torpedo Bombers
Chapter 1 - Torpedo
Chapter 2 - Torpedo Bombers
Chapter 3 - Early Experiments

Part Two - The First World War 1914-18
Chapter 4 - Development of Torpedo Bombers
Chapter 5 - Britain
Chapter 6 - Germany and Austria-Hungary
Chapter 7 - Italy
Chapter 8 - France
Chapter 9 - United States
Chapter 10 - Japan

Part Three – The Interwar Years 1918-39
Chapter 11 - The Development of Military Aviation
Chapter 12 – The Development of Torpedo Bombers
Chapter 13 – Aircraft Carriers
Chapter 14 – Britain
Chapter 15 – United States
Chapter 16 – Japan
Chapter 17 – France
Chapter 18 – Italy
Chapter 19 - Germany
Chapter 20 – The Netherlands
Chapter 21 – Soviet Union
Chapter 22 – Poland

Part Four – The Second World War in Europe
Chapter 23 – Torpedo Bomber Tactics
Chapter 24 – France
Chapter 25 – Britain
Chapter 26 – The Netherlands
Chapter 27 – Italy
Chapter 28 – Germany
Chapter 29 – Sweden
Chapter 30 – Soviet Union

Part Five – The Second World War in Asia and the Pacific
Chapter 31 – The Pacific Theatre
Chapter 32 – Australia
Chapter 33 – United States
Chapter 34 – Japan

Part Six – Torpedo Bombers After 1945
Chapter 35 – Decline of the Torpedo Bomber
Chapter 36 – Britain
Chapter 37 – United States
Chapter 38 – France
Chapter 39 – Soviet Union
Chapter 40 – Japan

This offering from Pen and Sword starts with the birth of the torpedo bombers that made the capital ships give ground to the aircraft carrier, and then moves on to the twilight years as the torpedo gave way to the missile age where aircraft are concerned. The book covers the torpedo from its early versions and follows with the advancements that were made in design. The development in the torpedo and the early aircraft designs is covered in very few pages, but there is a good deal of information here that is worth reading and taking in.

The main body of the book covers the aircraft utilised to launch this weapons system and I am both pleased and disappointed in what is offered. The aircraft are each covered on a single page and consists of a short write up and a drawn image of the aircraft. The text provides enough information on the aircraft as regards its usage in this role and a short back story to the aircraft and I am happy enough with what is provided in this aspect. It is the drawings of the aircraft that I am not so happy about; yes they are well done and serve a purpose, but as a modeller I would have liked a good photograph of the aircraft to be provided where possible. My reason for having this opinion is that regardless of how good a photograph is there will be details that are wrong or missed.


This offering from Pen and Sword is a one stop offering covering the aircraft used in the torpedo attack role by the Navy’s and Air Force’s around the globe. The development and advances of the torpedo weapons system is covered to my satisfaction where aircraft dropped weapons are concerned. The aircraft all look to be there as everyone I thought of was in the title and so I believe it will be a rare aircraft that is missed. My only gripe is that I would have liked photographs of the aircraft where possible rather than drawings.
Darren Baker takes a look at a Pen and Sword Offering titled 'Torpedo Bombers 1900-1950'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526763471
  Suggested Retail: £24.00
  PUBLISHED: Apr 30, 2020

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


That's a pretty ambitious title, considering that the Wrights didn't get their Flyer off the ground until 1903.
APR 30, 2020 - 05:31 AM
Hi Jessie Ahh - but you're forgetting the visionaries who were ahead of the game; Nikola Tesla had remote-controlled, electric-powered aircraft flying in the 1890s - and they had "death rays"! Ohh... sorry, no - that was just something in a steampunk story. All the best Rowan
MAY 01, 2020 - 07:45 AM