by Henry Sakaida
Osprey Publishing 1998
Cover Price: $22.95
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|Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 22
Imperial Japanese Navy Aces 1937-45
Japan's naval aviators and the images they conjour are almost larger than life - incredible pliots who dominated the skies of the Pacific flying the nimble A6M Zero during the first year of the war.
As the war dragged on, expert pilots were reduced by wounds, fatalities and the fact that Japan, unlike the Americans, did not rotate their best pilot out of combat to train novice pilots. Despite spectacular late war Navy aircraft, like the Shiden, the tide of war could not be turned agiast formations of B-29's and attacking P-51 and F6F fighters.
The book begins with overview chapter of the different theaters of war the IJN produced aces in. Included are China, Early months of Pacific War, Midway, New Guinea, Rabaul and the Solomons, Central Pacific to the Philippines, and home defense. Profiles of the following aces are included, with their claimed victory tallies along each name.
Kiyomi Katsuki claimed 7 in a floatplane, and was one of only two floatplane aces of World War II. He achived one of his victories in a FM1 Pete attacking a B-17. Also he flew the Rufe, floatplane version of the Zero.
Each ace profile concludes with a few sentances about their postwar lives, or death in service. The fates of these remarkable aces is just as facinating and often sad, like Sadaaki Akamatsu (30+) who flew 8,000 hours in combat but was never wounded. After the war, his alchoholism ruined his health and career, and he died in 1980 of pnemonia a broken and dejected man.
Overall, this is an excellent summary of some very obscure, and more famous Japanese Naval Aces. In most cases, it is the only material where you will see certain names in print in English. Author Henry Sakaida is also the author of Japanese Army Air Force Aces.
Read interview with author Henry Sakaida
Review by Justin Taylan