South Pacific Air War: Volume 5 - 'Crisis in Papua Sept-Dec 1942'

Published on
February 14, 2023
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Michael John Claringbould & Peter Ingman
Other Publication Information
Softcover, 9.84 X 6.93 inches, 236 pages, many illustrations & color profiles.
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Volume Five of this series chronicles aerial warfare primarily in the New Guinea theatre in the critical period between September and December 1942. It can be read alone or as a continuation of the previous four volumes which span the first nine months of the Pacific War.

By early September the strategic picture in the theatre had changed markedly within just six weeks. From their new Buna beachhead the Japanese Army commenced a Papuan mountain campaign which threatened the Allied bastion of Port Moresby. Meanwhile the battle for Guadalcanal was raging, with the outcome of the wider Pacific War in the balance.

Against this background a strengthened US Fifth Air Force took the fight to the IJA with direct air support. While this was being conducted by P-39s, P-40Es, A-20As and B-25s, raids by B-17s against Rabaul aided US forces in the neighboring Solomons. RAAF Beaufighters, Beauforts, Bostons and Hudsons also contributed substantially to these efforts.

At Rabaul a wide variety of fresh IJN fighter and bomber units poured in the theatre, although these became focused mainly on the Solomons. Such were the massive losses experienced, by November the IJN undertook a complete operational and administrative reorganization of its air power. Then, despite a strong reluctance to become involved, the IJA sent an advance reconnaissance detachment to Rabaul, the forerunner of major reinforcements that would arrive in December.

Never before has this campaign been chronicled in such detail, with Allied and Japanese accounts matched together for a truly factual account of the conflict.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1-Allied Overview
  • Chapter 2-Japanese Overview
  • Chapter 3-Crisis in Papua I: 916 September 1942
  • Chapter 4-Crisis in Papua II:17-24 September
  • Chapter 5-Horiii Withdraws:25-30 September
  • Chapter 6-Allied Flanking Operations: 1-10 October
  • Chapter 7-Mountain Warfare: 11-20 October
  • Chapter 8-IJA Defeat in the Mountains: 21-31 October
  • Chapter 9-Arrival of the JAAF and the IJN Restructure
  • Chapter 10-Kokoda Recaptured: 1-11 November
  • Chapter 11-The Battle of Buna Begins: 12-21 November
  • Chapter 12-Stalemate at the Beachheads 22-30 November
  • Chapter 13-Gona’s Gone! 1-9 December
  • Chapter 14-Madang Move: 10-20 December
  • Chapter 15-Enter the JAAF: 21-31 December
  • Chapter 16-Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • Appendix 1-Allied Aircraft Losses & Fatalities
  • Appendix 2-Japanese Aircraft Losses & Fatalities
  • Appendix 3-Cumulative Aircraft Losses & Fatalities
  • Sources & Acknowledgments
  • Index

As with the other volumes in this series, this book is well written. The amount of research in this volume (as others) is staggering with breaking down the many raids with not just reported results but ordinance expended, casualties and actual results is amazing to me. The amount of ordnance expended is mind boggling, especially when compared to the results. Thousands of rounds expended on many raids (A Nov. raid by Beaufighters strafing coastal positions expended 2,600 X 20mm and 35,000 X .303 rounds) with possible or minor damage inflicted and hundreds of bombs dropped on other missions with no results (Morning of Nov. 2nd raid of 4 B-17s attacked a convoy and dropped 48 X 500lb bombs with only “near misses” claimed) gives one a greater appreciation of just how difficult a job it was.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the air war in the South Pacific.

I’d like to thank Casemate publishers for providing this book and the review Corps for letting me review it.


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