USN & USMC WW2 Carrier-Based Aircraft, Digital-Print

Published: September 2nd, 2018     
Product Image
Author: Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak
Reviewed by: Rob Benson - IPMS# 44038
ISBN #: 978-1-9829621-2-8
E-Book ISBN #: 978-0-9991959-0-1
Other Publication Information: Digital; Format for iPad; Also available in Paperback for $21.99
Price: $9.99
Product provided by: Detail & Scale, Inc.

Thank you to Bert Kinzey and Rock Roszak for continuing to bring back a tremendous resource for the modeler, in a digital format and now in print-on-demand paperback format. Thank you to the IPMS Reviewer Corps for allowing me to test out this new and exciting method of researching history, details, versions and markings of USN and USMC carrier aircraft of WW2, and comparing it to a more traditional format. The official title is U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier Based Aircraft of World War 2.

This review of the e-book and the nearly-mirror equivalent paperback will be in three parts;

  1. a general overview of both,
  2. content coverage of both versions, and
  3. how effective and useful the digital e-book format is compared to the traditional paperback format, from a modeler's perspective.


The publication is an extraordinary compilation of not just the better known operational aircraft, but also the experimental ones. The content is organized into fighter, and dive and torpedo bomber sections. The X-types that never made it to production are particularly interesting, and I certainly learned a great deal. The combat action descriptions are almost entirely centered on the Pacific theater of operations, but there are some Atlantic markings and carriers represented.

The digital volume contains 257 digital pages, 280+ photographs (65 or so are in color), 31 color aircraft profiles, and 65+ illustrations of aircraft markings. Similarly, the paperback is 114 satin-finish pages (8.5 x 11 x 5/8 inch size), has 230+ photographs (65 or so are in color), 30 color aircraft profiles, and 65+ illustrations of aircraft markings. Direct page number comparisons are not accurate, because of the format types, but the digital version does have more photographs. Both publication formats retain the cherished look and feel of the original Detail & Scale series.

I certainly would expect the first question a reader would ask is, "Why do I want an e-book format, instead of a paperback?" I like reading through traditional books as much as anyone else, with the page-by-page discovery of storyline or new information. I also have tons of books in my library, mostly in dusty residence on stoic-looking bookshelves. This e-book format provides many advantages for the modeler. I cannot imagine that this publication will not be a stunning addition to any USN aviation enthusiast's digital or traditional library. I evaluated this copy in the iBook/iPad format, but operations on the Amazon Kindle platform are nearly identical. At about $10.00, you can't beat the price! The print-on-demand (PoD) paperback is a similar value at $22.00. Both are available through the link above.

My initial reaction to this new Detail & Scale e-book and paperback is even more positive than my reaction to the previous releases, including Colors & Markings Digital Volume 2, which is a beautiful compilation of USN F-14s in the Pacific. There are many digital versions of print publications available, ranging from simple scanned images of typed pages to true multimedia blends. The digital volume from Detail & Scale is unquestionably positioned at the higher end of digital formats, with new material and excellent functionality. I ran numerous what-if research test runs developing information about the many aircraft described in the publications and found those test-runs to be fast, effective, and efficient without fail. I no longer buy hardcopy references if a digital version is available. If my tablet or computer gets damaged or lost, I can simply download the digital volumes to the replacement devices. Try that with a hardcopy!

But Detail & Scale is taking advantage of print-on-demand technologies and at this time 5 of their publications are available in one-off, PoD hard-copies for traditionalists. I am very pleased with the quality of my paperback review copy. Everyone will be happy!

The paperback is very similar to the e-book digital volume. The same information is present as in the e-book, with a few minor layout differences. There is a one page table of contents in the paperback, whereas in the e-book, you simply slide from chapter to chapter. Page numbers are more conspicuous in the paperback, to allow lookups. The e-book is faster on lookups with search functions, and doesn't need the page numbers as much. The author and illustrator biographies are at the end of the paperback, and there is no Detail & Scale bonus section. This section is likely omitted since it is heavily hyperlinked to the Detail & Scale website, and would not serve a useful purpose in print-base format. There is a pitch for the digital versions! Beyond these differences, there is little content difference between the two versions beyond photo content.

Reading a novel in e-book format, e.g., iBook, Kindle, Nook and so on, is a nice experience, with the advantages of portability, downloadable purchases, and reading in low light. In a reference book, these advantages are surpassed by the ability to search, add notes, screen capture or zoom into photos from the text for annotation, and have fingertip rapid access to information on your workbench without compromising space. A digital reference book allows greater amounts of high-resolution images to be used at a much lower publication price and a more manageable size. In other words, bench space doesn't get filled by a reference book. Furthermore, quicker searching and data collection are major bonuses compared to traditional paperback.

Content Coverage of Both Versions

Front Matter: The front and back covers continue a Detail & Scale practice of a colorful content "teaser" with book illustration samples. The list of contributors and sources fills a good part of a page, and is a testament to the thoroughness of the volume. On digital page iv of the Front Matter section is an excellent description of how to use the iBook format on an iPad. The author and illustrator's biography appears on digital p. viii, and it at the end of the paperback.

Introduction: The chapter highlights the overall layout of volume, giving the reader a great idea of what to expect and the organization logic. The early history of USN carrier aviation through WW2 is summarized. A brief rationale for including the lesser known and unsuccessful aircraft is included, and an overview of the appendices rounds out the introduction.

Chapter 1 Fighters: The classic well-known fighters are described in well-written development and operation histories, accompanied by excellent and often unusual photographs. Historical photographs are generally in grayscale, but color often appears in detail images of restored museum aircraft, and in excellent artwork that shows markings. Fully half of the aircraft chapters in the section cover experimental planes, and three late-comer designs, such as the F7F Tigercat are included.

Chapter 2 Dive and Torpedo Bombers: In a similar way to the previous chapter, operational and better-known torpedo and dive bombers are described in well-written development and operation histories, accompanied by excellent and often unusual photographs. Historical photographs are also in grayscale, but color often appears in detail images of restored museum aircraft. Beautiful color artwork highlights marking styles. Four of the aircraft chapters in the section cover experimental planes, and one "also-ran", the Buccaneer.

Appendix 1 Theater Maps: Two theater maps cover Pacific carrier operations and engagement. The period from January to August, 1942, is covered by one map. The time period from August 1942 through August 1945 is covered by the other map. Both maps are in color and are very effective summaries of the locations and losses of carriers and battleships by both sides. The Atlantic theater is not shown, but the loss of CVE-21, Block Island, is mentioned. Even though both maps work well as stand-alone illustrations, supporting historical explanations capture the story with engaging narrative.

Appendix 2 Navy Paint Schemes and Markings: Navy paint schemes and markings from the yellow-wings era through the end of WW2 are cataloged here. Tail codes of all kinds, and related recognition markings are shown in color artwork; these are broken out by times when they were used. Furthermore, full color profile examples of aircraft show typical insignia and markings placement. The last part of the section has a useful compilation of USN camouflage color and FS paint equivalents accompanied by an evolutionary chart of national insignia.

Content coverage summary: I found the volume's organization to be excellent. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of experimental types. This inclusion provides a great perspective connecting the tried-and-true familiar operational aircraft we all know well with the innovations of those that aircraft that didn't make it. I also liked the detailed explanations of the markings in the appendix. I wish I had actually seen the theoretical fly-by of all sections of yellow wings in the 30's.

Digital and Paperback Format Comparison for the Modeler

My review copy arrived in the form of an emailed purchase code which was then entered into the iTunes Store download area. The volume was quickly ready to read and resident on my iPad. The paperback arrived via USPS in great form, ready to read and mark up.

The paperback is crisply printed with excellent quality images. Highlighter ink took well to the paper, and ink and pencil markups were readily added. Narrow margins require small and careful notes.

If you are not familiar with tablets or other digital readers, an excellent guide to iPad operations starts on page iv of the digital publication. The Apple iOS signature taps, finger swipes, and finger pinch motions are easy to learn and are much the same as many touch tablet systems. The learning curve is a short bump to become proficient. You will soon learn to move quickly throughout the text. Once you learn the finger motions, you will discover that a double-tap pull-down title bar is very helpful. On the left-hand side of the title bar are icons enabling you to return to the library (quit), find the table of contents (a chapter screen with sections), and locate a nice help screen for adding highlights and notes. On the right-hand side of the title bar is a screen brightness icon, but best of all, there is a search icon and a bookmark icon. I found both of these to be very helpful. These features really aren't conceptually different from marking up a traditional book but have significant advantages.

  1. Highlighting can be done with different colors, perhaps for different topics of your interest.
  2. Highlights can be easily changed or removed (ever try to erase those bright yellow stripes?).
  3. Bookmarks may be added, removed or edited.

Taking screen shots or grabs can be very useful for specific planning. Pressing the sleep/wake button at the same time as the home button will capture the visible screen. This function is great for annotating and planning details. There are many free drawing apps that can import an image and let you enlarge, mark up, or otherwise edit. If you need to put some ideas together for detailing, you can digitally scribble on the photo!

An iPad has a very small footprint so it will take up minimal space on the bench. All of your reference material is in one place, ready to use. Several images of screen operations are included to supplement the many online tutorials that others have posted for iPad operations on YouTube and similar sites.

I can't find any negatives in the digital format. Some could argue that the pages are too small (you can zoom), tablet devices are too expensive (prices are dropping), backups are impossible (cloud technology is pretty robust, even though it is stored on someone else's server), the content is static (no it isn't, look at the links and updates), and you can't fan the pages with your thumb and feel the heft of the book (OK, you got me there, but why would one want to feel the weight of the books I have on my tablet?) I love the format, and the learning curve is worth it.

I appreciate the paperback format as well. You will find the paperback to be virtually identical to previous Detail & Scale paperback volumes. The only negative I found in the paperback is that the margins are a bit tight for annotations. There also more images in the digital version.

Either format will be a great addition to the modeler's research library. During this review, I managed to spill coffee on both, and I am pleased to report that both formats still work well!

Overall Recommendation

In terms of content, this is another exceptional publication, in either format. In addition to the tremendous wealth of photographs and other information, this volume has an easy-to-read style. The artwork is spectacular, the photograph resolution is superb, and the depth and variety of markings and color information make this Color and Markings edition invaluable in whatever format you prefer. The digital version provides more photographs and easier research, but the paperback is also excellent. As always, the ability of electronic media to effectively conduct research and find information reduces barriers to verify and/or discover other sources. However, you will not be disappointed in either format.

I am extremely positive about this publication, as I continue to be for all of the D&S digital publications I use. I found Colors & Markings to be an exceptionally effective and efficient research tool. But as mentioned in previous reviews of digital materials, a problem I do have is that digital publications force me to abandon an old tradition of having authors and illustrators sign their books! However, I may have found a workaround with annotation software.

Detail & Scale USN & USMC WW2 Carrier-Based Aircraft has my highest recommendation. I can't see how anyone can justify not having this publication if he or she has any interest in USN carrier-based aircraft. I am certain that the same functionality of the iPad exists for the Kindle platform. To the best of my knowledge, this publication is not available in any formats other than the iBook or Kindle versions at this time. The ability to research the markings, examine the different types, the abundance of color images, links to external resources, search functions, ability to quickly bookmark, highlight and add notes, all combined with the inexpensive cost, make the this volume an excellent value.

Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Detail & Scale! I am very pleased to see the Digital Volumes and the print-on-demand versions continuing to be released, and I'm sure I echo the thoughts of the modeling community in saying I hope to see many more of the Digital Series published. Thank you again to the stalwart Reviewer Corps for your hard work in making these review opportunities happen!

  • WWII Front Matter
    WWII Front Matter
  • WWII Introduction
    WWII Introduction
  • WWII Fighters
    WWII Fighters
  • WWII Dive and Torpedo Bombers
    WWII Dive and Torpedo Bombers
  • Highlighting Example
    Highlighting Example
  • USN USMC Version Example
    USN USMC Version Example
  • Data Example
    Data Example
  • Appendix 1- Theater Maps
    Appendix 1- Theater Maps
  • WWII Theater Example
    WWII Theater Example
  • Appendix 2- Paint Schemes and Markings
    Appendix 2- Paint Schemes and Markings
  • WWII Yellow Wings Example
    WWII Yellow Wings Example
  • WWII Marking Examples
    WWII Marking Examples
  • More from Detail and Scale
    More from Detail and Scale

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