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by James P. Gallagher
Stackpole Books  2004
Soft cover
300 pages
Index, photos
ISBN: 0811731618
Price $18.95
Language: English

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Meatballs and Dead Birds
A Photo Gallery of Destroyed Japanese Aircraft in World War II

Originally published in 1972, this book was a 'classic' of its depictions of the broken and abandoned aircraft at Japanese airbases at the end of the war.  Reprinted, it is once again available for new audiences.

All the photos were taken by James P. Gallagher during the immediately after surrender of Japan aircraft at airfields that littered the Japanese countryside.  Depicted are both destroyed aircraft and surrendered aircraft with propellers removed.

Each chapter is dedicated to a particular aircraft type, and many with scans of the equally rare dataplates from that aircraft type. Gallagher's explorations included borrowing an Army jeep and taking his camera on sightseeing expeditions around the airfields, at a unique moment in history when these aircraft remained untouched.

Examples ranging from the earliest aircraft, like the A5M4 Claude through the most advanced fighters of the later war period are represented. See Francis, Frank and other experimental examples like the Ki-87. Also, examples of nearly every other type in service with both the Navy and Army, from the famous Zero fighter and Oscar, and Irving, Dinah, Judy and more. The book also covers other interesting discoveries, like concrete covered fighter revetments and even a B-29 mockup used for commandos to train on for their proposed missions to destroy them after being parachuted into the Marianas.

The book concludes with the round up of remaining Japanese aircraft, that were unceremoniously bulldozed into piles and burned, in accordance with terms of surrender.  The systematic destruction of the remaining Japanese aircraft ended the era of Japanese aviation that had peaked and declined so rapidly from the late 1930s until 1945. The rigor of America's destruction is one of the reasons that Japanese aircraft are so rate today, and most are extinct, aside from a handful of examples that remain today, or replicas made for Hollywood movies.

Review by  Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
November 25, 2022

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