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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Luca Ruffato &
Michael Claringbould
Associate Editors
Lawrence Hickey, Gordon Birkett, Ed Dekiep, Steve Birdsall
Tainan Research  2012
352 pages
Index, photos, color profiles
CGI graphics
ISBN: 978-0-473-21763-1
Cover Price: $78.60
Language: English

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Eagles of the Southern Sky
The Tainan Air Group in WWII
Volume One: New Guinea

This book is a comprehensive history of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Tainan Kokutai (Air Group) that flew the AM6 Zero fighter. The Tainan Kokutai is famous for many reasons, including the aircraft it operated, the A6M Zero fighter, the battles it participated including the Philippines, New Guinea and the Solomons and its famous pilot roster including Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, Junichi Sasai and Saburo Sakai.

The book's two main authors: Ruffato and Claringbould are seasoned researchers and writers. Together, they collaborated for years to research and write the history of the Tainan Kokutai using Japanese action reports, experts from the Pacific Air War History Associates, Pacific Wrecks, J-Aircraft and the world's best researchers and authors on this subject.

This book is devoted to the Tainan Kokutai's service is New Guinea over five months spanning April until August 1942 is less known to the world, aside from the from Samurai! the biography of Zero pilot Saburo Sakai. Eagles of the Southern Sky is devoted entirely to this period, beginning with the unit's arrival at Rabaul aboard the Komaki Maru until the start of the Guadalcanal campaign on August 7, 1942.

This book is a lavish unit history, that includes a detailed narrative of the Tainan Kokutai, including detailed air combat narratives that match up to the Japanese, Australian and American sides of every facet of their history. Eagles of the Southern Sky includes hundreds of photos from Allied and Japanese sources, plus never before published photographs. Also, color computer generated renderings of famous combats. The book includes color profiles of key Tainan Zero fighter markings, maps and photos of pilots referenced.

Like every unit on all sides of the war, the pilots of the Tainan Kokutai over claimed the victories they scored in the air. Due to the fog of war and confusion of air combat, pilots of all sides made incorrect or exaggerated claims about the damage they inflicted. The authors undertake an unbiased historical study of Tainan pilot victory claims, comparing them to known Allied losses and Japanese losses, using unit records and action reports from all sides. This true accounting greatly diminishes the victory claims of all sides, but provides a truer accounting than has ever been published by any side to date. Although it is impossible to definitively prove every combat claim, this book come as close as historically possible. For readers interested in the reality of air combat, this book is a refreshing new look at the Tainan and Allied sides.

Never before has such a work been compiled for a single Japanese unit. Not only is the book impressive in its scope and depth, it also corrects many historical misconceptions about the Tainan Kokutai that have been propagated in other published sources in the United States, Australian and Japan.

Works of this historical magnitude are the greatest tribute to history, and arguably have never been possible until today when the internet has allowed authors to collaborate and access records, information and photos from all sides to build a picture of the past that was never possible before.

Interview with Michael Claringbould and Luca Ruffato

Review by Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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