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Neglected Skies is a reconsideration of one of the Second World War's most forgotten naval engagements - the abortive clash between the British Eastern Fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy's First Air Fleet (Kido Butai) to the south of Ceylon, over a period of ten days in late March/early April 1942. The focus upon this battle is for the purpose of exploring the surrender of British naval supremacy from the operational perspective, most particularly the inability of the British Admiralty over two decades to develop a first-line, carrier-borne air arm. By primarily analysing the evolution of British naval aviation during the interwar period, as well as the challenges which the peacetime Royal Navy was forced to confront, most especially in the fields of international arms-limitation and domestic fiscal restraint, a picture emerges of a battlefleet which entered war in September 1939 at considerably less that a primary state of combat readiness.
Likewise, the publication examines the rise of the instrument which was primarily responsible for toppling the Royal Navy from its paramount position on the battlefield - namely the development of Japan's lethal first strike instrument known as the Kido Butai. The concentration of the IJN's six largest aircraft-carriers into a single striking force, equipped with state-of-the-art aircraft manned by elite aviators, represented an enormous quantum leap forward in warfighting at sea, and the evolution of both the concept, and its material components in a domestic atmosphere permeated by aggressive militarism, is a central component in the book. Two essential conclusions are reach by the author. The first is that the demise of British naval supremacy was first and foremost a process that spanned two decades, prior to coming to fruition in the Indian Ocean in April 1942.
The second is that the story of British naval and imperial decline did not end with the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, but rather reached its climax in the subsequent conduct of Japan's Operation C, where for the first time in history, a British fleet was compelled to retire from the battlefield in the face of opposition from a force which, though similar in size, possessed a measure of modern aerial firepower which was quite beyond the capability of the British to effectively counter in any form then available to the British Admiralty.
Angus Britts is a qualified military historian, who has enjoyed a background in the subject since his childhood in the 1970s. His studies have included politics, international relations, and both historical and antiquarian subjects. For the majority of his working life, he has worked in the justice system, is unmarried, and is a keen sportsman.