Book Review
US Aces Against The Kamikaze
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 109 'American Aces Against The Kamikaze'
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by: Mike Wood [ WOODSHEDWINGS ]

This softcover book tells the story of the formation of the first Special Attack kamikaze units by the JAAF and IJN and the response of the US Navy, Marine Corps and USAAF forces in countering this new threat, during which 91 pilots attained ace status. The book was written by Edward M Young.

The book is split into the following chapters:
1 Origins
2 Okinawa - Prelude to Invasion
3 The April Battles
4 The Final Battles
5 Nightfighters and Near Aces

The book covers the period commencing shortly before the US invasion of the Phillipines in late 1944 and the setting up of the first Special Attack units under Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, right through to the Japanese surrender in August 1945. It charts the ultimately futile and costly attempts by the Shimpu or ‘Divine Wind’ squadrons to repel the US carrier fleets attacking the Phillipines and Okinawa. These were often comprised of inexperienced pilots flying obsolete aircraft against the superior machines of the US forces.

The text covers in detail the origins of the kamikaze in Japanese warrior culture, through Tai-atari or body crashing attacks, where aircraft were deliberately flown into their targets resulting in the loss of life of the pilot, to it’s implementation as an approved but albeit, desperate tactic. It recounts the operations of individual US pilots on their way to becoming aces or near aces and conveys a sense of what it was like to come up against this new weapon. It is written in an interesting and readable style, often including first hand accounts from the pilots themselves or the seamen under attack, avoiding the sometimes dry approach of listing names, dates, aircraft downed etc.

There is an appendix listing the ace pilots and their achievements during the Okinawa campaign and descriptions for the 32 colour plates, which feature profile views of 18 Hellcats, 10 Corsairs, 3 Thunderbolts and 1 lightning. These are well executed and would be useful reference for any modeller with an abundance of Glossy Sea Blue paint on their workbench. The photographs accompanying the text include many of these aircraft in action along with portraits of the pilots who flew them.

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Highs: Extremely readable text combined with excellent photographs and profiles.
Lows: Nothing noted.
Verdict: This is both a valuable modelling reference and a good read in its own right. Recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-754-2
  PUBLISHED: May 15, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Mike Wood (WoodshedWings)

I have always been fascinated by aircraft. My father being in the Fleet Air Arm afforded me the opportunity to get up close and personal with the real thing. We would attend the annual 'Air Day' at my Dads base, HMS Daedalus, where you could sit in actual operational aircraft. I remember being inst...

Copyright ©2021 text by Mike Wood [ WOODSHEDWINGS ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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