Japanese Aircraft Interiors 1940-1945 Book Review



Japanese Aircraft Interiors 1940-1945

By Robert C. Mikesh

Hardcover in dustjacket, 328 pages, profusely illustrated

Published by Monogram Aviation Publications April 2000

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0914144618

ISBN-13: 978-0914144618

Dimensions: 12.5 x 9.2 x 1 inches

Robert C. Mikesh is a name known to all aviation enthusiasts.  A former USAF Officer, he was the Senior Curator for Aeronautics with the U.S. National Air and Space Museum.  Fortunately for modelers and others interested in aviation history, he used his unparalleled access to surviving examples of Japanese aircraft to document them from  a unique perspective – the cockpit interiors and crew positions.

This book is exceptional for its presentation and its thoroughness.  Included are examples of nearly all aircraft types operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy and Air Forces during the Second World War.  Each type receives a brief introduction, and then the reader is treated to several photographs and illustrations documenting the interiors and equipment.  The photographs are clearly explained and thoroughly captioned, with the purpose of each component being identified and explained.  Both archival photographs from Allied technical evaluation units and contemporary color photographs are utilized – whichever best illustrates the subject.  Some surviving aircraft are completely restored, others are untouched and unseen since the war having been stored for potential future display.  Many types have perspective artwork showing the layout and identification of the various components.

Several of the aircraft types are unique, and Mikesh presents information on the only examples left in existence.  For example, the only surviving J7W1 Shinden prototype is in storage at the NASM, the book contains several full color photographs of the original cockpit.  For this and the other types, Mikesh has gone to great lengths to measure the colors of the airframe interiors and installed equipment and presents that research to the reader.  Refreshingly, he also describes any obstacles in acquiring accurate measurements, and informs the reader when he is forced to relate his opinion or best guess.  In many cases  his position and contacts gave Mikesh access to all the surviving artifacts and documentation, so his best guess is likely to be the best guess going forward.

This book is a treasure, and an unrivaled reference for modelers of Japanese aircraft.  It is the authoritative work on the topic, it is highly doubtful to ever be rivaled.  Currently out of print, it can command collector prices on the used book market  but is an indispensable reference for modelers.  Highly recommended.