The Dutch Naval Air Force Against Japan, 2nd Edition
Bibliographic Info: 119 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
Eighty-some years after the fact, we are still learning about the Second World War, in all its global aspects. One neglected area, handsomely remedied in English by this book, is the role to the Netherlands East Indies Naval Air Service during the Japanese onslaught into the area we now call Indonesia. This book is doubtless the ultimate study on the subject, at least in English. And what a far-flung topic it is; the numerous islands of the Netherlands East Indies covered an area wider than the Continental U.S. and nearly as deep.
Womack's second edition nearly doubles the page count of his earlier 2006 book. It profits by new information and interviews, and the addition of background on MLD (Naval Air Service) operations. The MLD was tasked with a general reconnaissance role. When war broke out, the main aircraft was the Dornier Do-24 flying boat but further orders of this German product became impossible with the invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. The MLD found a reasonable successor in the Consolidated 28-5 flying boat, the famous PBY Catalina, and deliveries of these aircraft was underway when war erupted in the Pacific.
Both types would be in constant action, initially finding themselves in combat with Mitsubishi F1M "Pete' float planes and Kawanishi H6K 'Mavis' flying boats. The MLD's aircraft operated from a variety of bases - many were pre-stocked 'scatter' bases to avoid Japanese attack. Although the grind of operations and combat took their toll, one of the amazing themes in this book is how well the Dutch maintenance operation worked at keeping planes in the air.
The outcome, sadly, was a foregone conclusion for the Dutch, as their British and American allies had their own agendas. But along the way, the author provides unexpected historical pearls like a cameo appearance by a sister ship of the Lusitania, or a Dutch DC-3 piloted by Ivan Smirnoff, a WW I Imperial Russian ace.
This book is strongly recommended, with three suggestions:
- Look through the footnotes, the author has included some interesting nuggets there to supplement the main text;
- When you see the word 'benzine' bear in mind that's the Dutch term for gas/petrol;
- Bookmark (or scan/enlarge/print) the map on page 46; as the old saying goes, wars are God's way of teaching Americans geography
The Dutch Naval Air Force Against Japan 2nd Edition is a solid addition to your history library.