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by Lawrence J. Hickey
IHRA 1984 (1st edition)
1996 (4th Edition)
32 page color section with
Full Color Paintings
Maps, Aircraft profiles
Cover Price: $75.00
|Warpath Across the Pacific
The Illustrated History of the
345th Bombardment Group
During World War II
This review relates to the 4th edition published in 1996. Warpath Across the Pacific is the unit history of the 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) nicknamed the "Air Apaches" World War II Pacific service. Others reviews have called this book 'the finest history of an air combat unit ever published' . This distinction was earned from twenty years of research by the author, and honed during four editions of updates since it was first publication in 1984. The scope of the research and writing go beyond the pilots and missions of the group, to the larger history and details of individual experiences. The book is a beautiful, hardcover 8x10 table top volume with dust jacket. The art direction and design are equally amazing - providing hundreds of photographs, captions, maps, paintings and detailed appendixes.
The 345th BG's area of operations was vast, spanning over all of New Guinea and up into the Philippines, Chinese coast, Formosa and finally the southern islands of Japan and Korea. This combat history is divided over 21 in depth chapters of text that take the reader through every day, and ever mission of the "Air Apaches". During its 26 months of WWII service, the group flew a total of 58,562 combat hours on 9,120 strike sorties. It dropped 58,000 bombs, weighing 6,340 tons and fired 12.5 million rounds of ammunition. Credited with sinking 260 vessels for a total of 190,000 tons and damaging 275 others. A total of 260 planes were destroyed on the ground, and 107 aerial victories, in total the unit won the Distinguish Unit Citation four times. For aficionados of the B-25 Mitchell, this book will be of particular interests, as the 345th flew this medium bomber throughout its entire combat career, including the early model "C" and "D" variants, through the "J" model.
The Book and Text
The chapters of the text match the 345th's history, begins with the unit's activation on November 11, 1942 as a medium bomber unit at Columbia Army Air Base, South Carolina flying the B-25 Mitchell bomber and the formation of its four squadrons: the 498th, 499th, 500th and 501st. Subsequent chapters detail the group's missions to reduce the Japanese airfields and shipping at Wewak and Rabaul. It participated in the large raids to Kavieng and New Britain before continuing to missions in Dutch New Guinea, the Philippines, Indochina, Formosa and the blockading of the Japanese coasts. The book conclude with the the end of WWII and the group's deactivation on December 10, 1945 at Ie Shima, and brief reactivation as a tactical bombardment wing from 1954 - 1959.
The photo captions are worthy of special mention because of their precise detail. These captions provide a level of detail that only careful cross research and interview with the actual veterans can provide. The reader will find themselves reading each page of the book twice: once, for the text and a second pass to just absorb the photographs, and detailed captions. In many cases, the level of research of even these captions is amazing, often with even details related to the Japanese side, including aircraft identifications, and details about aircraft markings, damage and locations.
Full Color Paintings
Appendix III details the group's markings and insignia including their evolution, development, purpose and often interesting and sometimes humorous anecdotes about them. The final Appendix include profile histories provides additional historical information on each of the color plates illustrated by Steve Ferguson. Again, the level of detail is amazing. Finally, a detailed bibliography and index are included in the last pages of the book.
In summary, this book is an amazing work on all levels of research and visual presentation. For those with only a basic knowledge of WWII, this book is an impressive portrait of one of the most interesting units in WWII history. For even those knowledgeable about the Pacific war, there are plenty of details to learn from Warpath.
Also check out International Historical Research Associates publications on 5th Air Force group histories including: Revenge of the Red Raiders, Rampage of the Roarin' 20's and Ken's Men Against The Empire.
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