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by Henry Sakaida
Osprey Publishing 1998
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Army Air Force Aces 1937-45
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 13
Author Henry Sakaida is also the author of Imperial Japanese Naval Aces, in this same aces series. Very little is written in english on the subject of Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) specifically. This book presents us with what are in most cases an entirely new set of aces to admire for thier skill and bravery.
The Army Airforce operated entirely independent of the Naval Aviation. The segregation of the two services meant they rarely collaborated on strategic aims. As with the Navy, the Army Air Force achieved excellent results early in the war, but as the months dragged on, found itself flying a difficult battle against more numberous enemy pilots and planes.
The book includes chapters that summarize the JAAF's involvment in China, Nomonhan Incident (Russan/Japanese border skirmish), China-Burma-India Theater, New Guinea and home defense. Profiles of the following aces are included, with their confirmed victory tallies along side their names unofficial tallies in italics:
Masatoshi Masuzawa scrambled with other instructors and trainees over thier base, he engaged F6F Hellcats, and claimed one shot down, with the single 7.7mm machine gun of his Nakajima Ki-79. Almost all his comrades were shot down, but he returned from the action.
Each profile concludes with a bit about the pilots eventual fate. Like Shogo Saito, who died as an infantry man at Hollandia fighting on the ground after the American landing. Others are full of luck, like Yasuhiko Kuroe, who was shot down 3 times, wounded 3 times, and his plane hit over 500 times, but survived the war.
Despite the fact the JAAF aircraft were in most cases under armed and lighter than their Allied opponents, they did produce many incredible pilots and aces who overcame adversity to fly and fight against any challenge. This book is an exciting, unique read.
Read interview with Henry Sakaida
Review by Justin Taylan
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