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by Henry Sakaida
Osprey Publishing  1998
Soft cover
112 pages
Ace List
Color Plates
ISBN: 1-85532-727-9
Cover Price: $22.95
Language: English

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Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 22
Imperial Japanese Navy Aces 1937-45

Japan's Imperial Japanese fighter pilots conjour images of larger than life personalities who dominated the skies in the first years of the Pacific War flying the nimble A6M Zero fighter. As the war dragged on, expert pilots were reduced by wounds, fatalities and the fact that Japan, unlike the Americans, did not rotate their best pilot out of combat to train novice pilots. Despite spectacular late war Navy aircraft, like the Shiden Kai, the tide of war could not be turned against formations of B-29's and attacking P-51 and F6F fighters.

The book begins with overview chapter of the different theaters of war the IJN produced aces in. Included are China, Early months of Pacific War, Midway, New Guinea, Rabaul and the Solomons, Central Pacific to the Philippines, and home defense. Profiles of the following aces are included, with their claimed victory tallies along each name.

Mochifumi Nango (8)
Kiyoto Koga (13)
Kanichi Kashimura (12)
Matsuo Hagiri (13)
Tetsuzo Iwamoto (80)
Watari Handa (13)
Toshio Kuroiwa (13)
Iyozoh Fujita (7)
Satoshi Yoshino (15)
Saburo Sakai (64)
Sadao Uehara (13)
Sadamu Komachi (40)
Gitaro Miyazaki (13)
Toshiaki Honda (5)
Masuaki Endo (14)
Junichi Sasai (27)
Toshio Ota (34)
Hiroyoshi Nishizawa (36)
Enji Kakimoto (5)
Kenji Okabe (50+)
Kiyomi Katsuki (16)
Kenji Yanagiya
Hiroshi Okano (19)
Sekizen Shibayama (13)
Takeo Okumura (50+)
Masaaki Shimakawa (8)
Shigetoshi Kudo (9)
Hideo Watanabe (16)
Ryoji Ohara (48)
Zenjiro Miyano
Chitoshi Isozaki (12+)
Isamu Miyazaki (13)
Ayao Shirane (9)
Minoru Honda (17+)
Takeo Tanimizu (32)
Sadaaki Akamatsu (30+)
Yukio Endo (8)
Shoichi Sugita (70+)
Katsue Kato (9+)
Naoshi Kanno (48)
Kaneyoshi Muto (28+)
Yutaka Morioka (5)
Shiro Kurotori (6)

Kiyomi Katsuki claimed 7 in a floatplane, and was one of only two floatplane aces of World War II. He achived one of his victories in a FM1 Pete attacking a B-17 Flying Fortress. He also flew the A6M2-N Rufe the floatplane version of the Zero.

Each ace profile concludes with a few sentances about their postwar lives, or death in service. The fates of these remarkable aces is just as facinating and often sad, like Sadaaki Akamatsu (30+) who flew 8,000 hours in combat but was never wounded. After the war, his alchoholism ruined his health and career, and he died in 1980 of pnemonia a broken and dejected man.

Overall, this is an excellent summary of some very obscure, and more famous Japanese Naval Aces. In most cases, it is the only material where you will see certain names in print in English. Henry Sakaida is also the author of Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45.

Interview with author Henry Sakaida

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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