J2M Raiden and NiK1/2 Shiden/Shiden-Kai Aces

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Yasuho Izawa, Tony Holmes, Illustrator: Jim Laurier
Other Publication Information
Soft Cover, 7.2” x 9.8”, 96 pages
Product / Stock #
Aricraft of the Aces 129
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

The newest in Osprey’s Aircraft of the Aces series is authored by Yasuho Izawa, an ophthalmic optician in Tokyo. His past literary works include co-authoring Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and their Aces 1931-45 (with Ikuhiko Hata), Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and their Aces 1932-45(with Ikuhiko Hata), Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units in World War II (with Ikuhiko Hata), and Bloody Shambles Volumes 1 and 2 (with Christopher Shores and Brian Cull). Tony Holmes has been the Osprey Aviation Editor since 1989 and is responsible for devising the Aircraft of the Aces, Combat Aircraft, Elite Units, and Duel series of books for Osprey. In his 26 year career, Tony Holmes has authored, or co-authored, more than thirty aviation books. Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil and throughout his life he has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000, and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books.

This 96 page book contains 24 color profiles illustrated by Jim Laurier along with a paragraph description of each color plate located in the Appendix. I counted 81 black and white pictures, all with descriptions and sourcing. The Appendices also include a table of the aces who flew the Raiden, Shiden, and Shiden-Kai. The cover painting by Mark Postlethwaite graphically illustrates an air-to-air battle of June 22, 1945. Lt. Naoshi Kanno is depicted as blasting away the port outer wing and taking out a big chunk of the rudder of 2Lt. Alton Frazier’s Vought Corsair. Miraculously, 2Lt. Alton Frazier was able to return to base as is evidenced by a photo of the forlorn Corsair on page 86.

Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the development and initial testing of the Raiden, Kyofu, Shiden, and Shiden-Kai. All four entered service before all their problems were resolved, but all were quite effective weapons in the hands of a good pilot. The development of the Shiden by Kawanishi was a particularly aggressive move as all development costs of converting the Kyofu seaplane to a land based fighter were absorbed by the company, there being no approved government contract. Development of the Shiden-Kai was also financed by Kawanishi., but although it is often depicted as a variant of the Shiden, it truly was a brand new airframe. Of note is the inclusion in Chapter 1 of a US pilot’s report on flying the J2M Raiden.

Chapters 3, 4 and 5 focus on the operational service of the all four aircraft. Yasuho Izawa provides an overview of each aircraft’s introduction into the service units and the major battles they were involved in. I personally found the individual pilot action reports, from both sides, to be quite revealing – a way of bringing history alive.

The sections include:

  • The Need for Interceptors
    • Raiden From the Cockpit
  • Kawanishi Fighters
    • Violet Lightning
    • Shiden-Kai
  • N1K1 Kyofu and J2M Raiden in Combat
    • 381st Kokutai Into Action
    • 301st Kokutai’s Combat Failure
    • Raidens on Formosa and in China
    • 302nd Kokutai in Homeland Defense
    • Colour Plates
    • 332nd Kokutai in Homeland Defense
    • 352nd Kokutai in Homeland Defense
    • One-Off Success
  • N1K1-J Shiden in Combat
    • Homeland Defense
    • Okinawa
  • N1K2-J Shiden-Kai in Combat
    • 343rd Kokutai
    • Into Combat
    • Kamikaze Escorts
    • Battling B-29s
    • Kamikaze Support
    • Attacking PBMs and PB4Ys
    • Thunderbolts, Corsairs, and Mustangs
    • Bungo Strait Battle
    • Final Actions
  • Appendices
  • Index

If you own one the previous releases in the Aircraft of the Aces series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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