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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Charles Darby
Kookaburra  1979
220 pages
Photos, map, wreck list
ISBN: 0 85880 035 7
Cover Price: $15.95
Language: English

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Kookaburra Technical
Publications Pty Ltd
P. O. Box 648
Dandenong 3175
Victoria, Australia

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Pacific Aircraft Wrecks...
And Where to Find Them

This book is the definitive photographic collection of World War II Pacific aircraft wrecks in the South Pacific. Every page is full of amazing photographs of Japanese and Allied aircraft in tropical jungles and abandoned airfields. It was one of the first book published specifically on the topic of Pacific aircraft wreckage.

Previously, it was almost impossible to obtain, as it was originally published in 1979. Reprinted in 1986 and 1999. At one point, an antique book dealer on the internet was offering a first edition copy for over $200. So, perhaps, this book also has the distinction of being the most collectible on the topic!

Pacific Aircraft Wrecks begins with Darby's introduction titled "Aircraft Relics Today - Fact and Fiction" is as classic as texts get for the field of Pacific Wrecks. Although it was written in 1979, and sadly many of the wreck described have since been removed, destroyed, scrapped or have unknown fates, or are now the possession of unknown millionaires, it is still fun to read.

The photographic survey is from 1973–1976, and many of the pictures are reproduced in color most wrecks are from Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya or the Solomon Islands. The author chooses wisely to be vague about the locations of many of the wrecks, referring to most as B-17 in grassy swamp, or G4M1 Bettys in the Solomons.

The book has wonderful images of the famous New Guinea B-17E 41-2446 aka "Swamp Ghost", that, sadly since was stripped of all the equipment that are shown in in the pictures, including its oxygen tanks, instruments, guns and ammunition. Or the Ki-61 Tony 640 that force landed completely intact.

Although most of the complete aircraft have been salvaged since the photos were taken it is an amazing legacy of what remained decades after the war. Darby himself has been involved with the recovery of many of these airframes himself. The issue of salvage vs. preservation aside, he was undoubtedly a major post war force in wreck knowledge and has published the most widely reproduced photographs of many of these now classic Pacific warbirds.

Interview with author Charles Darby

Review by Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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