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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Robert Stava
Schiffer  2007
144 pages
ISBN: 0764327771
Cover Price: $39.95
Language: English

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Combat Recon
5th Air Force Images from the SW Pacific 1943-45

Combat Recon begins with a forward by Jack Heyn, photographer in the 3rd Bombardment Group, acknowledging the "Forgotten Fifth" aspect of the 5th Air Force in the South West Pacific Area. Next, an introduction and profile of John Stava, the author's relative and his quest to learn more about his service in the 5th Air Force ADVON photo lab and 17th Reconnaissance Squadron after inheriting photos and film footage that belonged to him.

The book is divided into chapters detailing topics spanning the duration of the war, including: prewar history, 5th Air Force Photo Lab, New Guinea, U.S.O. Show, Rabaul, Wewak, Sydney leave, Top Brass, nose art and the Philippines: Tacloban, Manila, San Jose, Clark Field. Richard Bong, Propaganda and anti-shipping strikes in the South China Sea.

Each has a brief historical overview and photos from Stava and others collections plus related ephemera. This book has an impressive collection of strike photography and low level strikes in New Guinea against airfields, shipping. Some are well known photos, others are unique never before published photos from Stava's personal collection. Profiles are dedicated to specific events and combat missions, including the famous destruction of a Ki-21 Sally, recorded in a series of photos.

For anyone interested in 5th Air Force photos and an overview of air combat in the South West Pacific Area, Combat Recon is highly recommended.

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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