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Solomons Air War, Vol 1

...from Avonmore Books, via Casemate UK

Title: Solomons Air War, Vol 1
Author: Michael John Claringbould & Peter Ingman
Publisher: Avonmore Books
ISBN: 978-0-645-24693-3

The start of a new series of books covering the aerial warfare in the opening phase of WW2 in the Solomons Islands theatre, during the period from August & September 1942. A 248-page soft-cover book from authors Michael John Claringbould and Peter Ingman.
Extending the reach of their air power assets, the Imperial Japanese forces captured the Solomons Islands in May 1942 and started building an airfield on the island of Guadalcanal. Over 600 miles from their major base at Rabaul, it would open up their potential targets to extend towards Fiji, the New Hebrides and more. The book gives a detailed account of the air war that grew from this as the US forces invaded Tulagi and Guadalcanal, catching the Japanese forces by surprise, and getting control of the airfield, then renamed Henderson Field. There are 16 chapters, each one tackling a particular element of the story, focussing on the aerial battles, and by close association, the naval forces. The cat and mouse games between the IJN and US Carrier units were a significant part of the campaign. The IJN lost the Ryujo, while the US had the Enterprise damaged and the loss of the USS Wasp. Such a variety of aircraft types involved on both sides, not just Wildcats and Zeros, but flying boats, floatplanes, medium and heavy bombers all feature. To reinforce their forces on Guadalcanal especially, the Japanese used destroyers to ferry in supplies and reinforcements in operations known as the Tokyo Express, and it was good to read of these with the inclusion of the names of individual vessels involved in the various runs, a level of detail I had not seen before. Throughout the book there are plenty of archive images, along with some neat colour profile artwork of a wide variety of aircraft types and markings. Two appendices at the end, with details of aircraft losses and fatalities for both sides.
The level of detail in the book is far greater than I have ever seen before about the story of Guadalcanal and the Solomons, and most especially, that it is I think fairly balanced with detail for both sides, right down to individual aircrew names. All sorts of combat situations, and plenty of times with accidents or simply aircraft running out of fuel and needing to ditch. Well written, this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading and couldn't put down once started. Easy one to recommend in my view.
Thanks to Casemate UK, the distributors for Avonmore books here, for the review copy.


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