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Solomons Air War Volume 1 (Paperback)

Guadalcanal August – September 1942

Aviation WWII

By Michael Claringbould, Peter Ingman
Imprint: Avonmore Books
Pages: 200
Illustrations: fully illustrated; colour
ISBN: 9780645246933
Published: 1st December 2022

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This first volume of Solomons Air War chronicles aerial warfare in the opening phase of the war in the Solomons Islands theatre, being the critical period of August-September 1942.

 

After occupying the Solomon Islands capital of Tulagi with ease in May 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy commenced building an airfield on the adjacent island of Guadalcanal. The indispensable airfield was over 600 miles distant from their main base of Rabaul and promised to extend the reach of their aircraft into the Allied occupied island chains of Fiji, the New Hebrides and New Caledonia. Much was at stake and the airfield would be held at all costs.

 

Then, in early August 1942 a bold American invasion of both Tulagi and Guadalcanal caught the IJN completely off guard. Nevertheless, Japanese air power responded swiftly and in some cases desperately. So began the knife-edge struggle for Guadalcanal.

 

An ever-increasing variety and number of IJN units was poured into the struggle, met initially with USN carrier-based Wildcats backed up by SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and the new TBF torpedo bomber. These were soon joined by USAAF fighters operating from the newly operational Henderson Field.

 

From late August, Japanese carriers entered the fight, adding more complexity to the intense and frenzied air battles. For the first time belligerents are closely matched and the rationale of the IJN’s sometimes erratic response is explained. The full extent of both Japanese and US involvement is outlined to a level of detail never before presented.

It is a fantastic read and it shows the hardships endured by both the American and Japanese forces over inhospitable terrain and challenging weather conditions. The list of sources is particularly impressive by using many primary sources such as unit logs, memoirs, interrogation reports, and Japanese language resources. Lastly there is a helpful index of names, ships, and military units. This first volume in this series is an excellent initial book in the series. The second volume has also just been released and it continues to look at Guadalcanal and the later Battle of Santa Cruz. The format of the Avonmore series of books is a fantastic blend of detailed research, phenomenal artwork, carefully selected photographs, relevant maps, and renowned authors. The high standard of editing is commendable as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Solomon's campaign and Pacific aerial warfare during the Second World War.

Todd Shugart/ The Aviation Enthusiast Book Club

About Michael Claringbould

Raised in Port Moresby, Michael Claringbould is a globally recognised expert on the New Guinea air war and the Fifth Air Force.


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