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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Chris Rudge
Adventure Air  2003
407 pages
Photos, Maps, Index
ISBN: 0-473-09724-9
Cover Price: NZ$59.95
Language: English

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The Story Behind the air-to-air combat claims of the RNZAF

When a truly outstanding book comes out, it grabs the reader's attention immediately. This book without a doubt the definitive book on the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) air combat in the Pacific during WWII.

Author Chris Rudge has created a landmark book that explores this topic in precise detail, from both sides. Additionally, Air To Air is well written and objective in its treatment of the subject matter. Without a doubt, this is a book that you will want as part of your book collection.

The book begins with an introduction, and story of 488 Squadron, hastily rushed to Singapore to bolster the defenses there, and first combat in the Pacific before the island's surrender. The book then traces events across the Pacific leading up to the New Zealand deployment on Pacific Islands and Guadalcanal in early 1943. It is interesting to read this lead-up history written from the prospective of New Zealand.

In the Solomons, they served along side the American 13th Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps against the Japanese. They flew from bases on Guadalcanal and later Ondonga Airfield on New Georgia.

The RNZAF's highest scoring ace, Trevor Freeman was shot down over southern New Ireland in P-40N NZ3153/F. He is still listed as an MIA to this day.

Review by John Douglas of Air To Air:
"As a Kiwi my judgment could be regarded as a wee tad parochial, but I certainly feel that "Air to Air" by Chris Rudge is extremely well researched AND well written as well. The only comparable book of similar quality is Warpath Across The Pacific. All other authors can only aim as high.

The book is somewhat specialized, and deals with the shot down claims of the RNZAF fighters It goes into excellent detail on various raids for example over Rabaul, where each pilots experiences are documented and corroborated by his colleagues., so that each claim is given in considerable detail, along with a wealth of other interesting anecdotes. If it had also dealt with RNZAF losses and daily operations ,it would have been twice as long and probably the definitive book on the RNZAF.

The Aussies have nothing like it [that I have ever come across]. The book also brings in US Navy and Marine actions on the same occasions, but not quite as much detail. Possibly those records don't exist, or are harder to research. For a long time The RNZAF Fighter score was recognized as 99 confirmed . Careful checking by Chris demonstrates that the actual score was over 100."

Review by Justin Taylan & John Douglas  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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