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Pacific World War II Book Review  
Order Book
by John Stanaway
Osprey Publishing  1999
Soft cover
96 pages
Ace List
Color Plates of
aircraft & aces
ISBN: 1-85532-633-7
Cover Price: $24.00
Language: English

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Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 26
Mustang and Thunderbolt Aces of the Pacific and CBI

For aficionados of the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang in the Pacific, this book documents the history, personalities and aerial engagements of Thunderbolts and Mustangs. Illustrated with numerous photos, this book has plenty for historians of the Pacific, or anyone interested in stories about air combat in WWII.

Thunderbolts with the 5th Air Force (5th AF)
The P-47 Thunderbolt never won easy acceptance in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) who thought the plane was too large, heavy and lacked the range and low-level maneuverability to succeed in the jungle environment, or against light Japanese aircraft. Regardless, General George C. Kenney commander of the 5th Air Force (5th AF) wanted every available aircraft possible for his command, including the Thunderbolts that began arriving to Port Moresby during May 1943.

Specific pilots like Neel E. Kearby the Commanding Officer (C. O.) 348th Fighter Group (348th FG) embraced the new fighter, and set about developing new tactics to utilize the P-47's diving speed and other strengths. He went on to score a total of 22 victories in the P-47, and proved the merits of the fighter in the Pacific. Tragically, he was shot down on a sweep over Wewak.

Even groups flying the P-38 were forced to switch to the P-47 due to shortages of Lightnings. Thunderbolts distinguished themselves in New Guinea, and on long range missions with external tank, like that to Balikapapan and in the Philippines. By early 1945, most units were transitioning to the new P-51D Mustang.

Mustangs in the Pacific
Although the P-51 only saw limited service, the airplane made ace out of many Pacific pilots and participated in important history. The P-51A first saw service in Burma with the 530th FBS, 14th AF. The 5th and 7th began flying the type late in the war, as the battle drew closer to the mainland of Japan, and meeting the enemy in the air became rarer.

Never the less, there was outstanding Mustang air combat in the Pacific, such as the story of William Shomo of the 81st TRS who scored an amazing seven victories in one mission on January 11, 1945, and his wingman, three. When he downing Ki-61 Tonys and the Betty bomber they were escorting. Shomo was awarded the Medal of Honor of this action, depicted on the book's cover.

Like other Osprey series books, it concludes with an appendixes of all P-47 and P-51 aces and their kills, color renderings and aircraft schematics. For fans of these two fighters, this book will be an essential part of your collection and the stories within will permanently find their way into your imagination.

Read interview with John Stanaway

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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