Aces of the Republic of China Air Force Book Review

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Aces of the Republic of China Air Force

By Raymond Cheung, illustrated by Chris Davey

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces Book 126

Paperback, 96 pages, 31 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing May 2015

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472805615

ISBN-13: 978-1472805614

Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches

With the exceptions of the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) and to a lesser extent the 23rd Fighter Group, very little is known in the West about the air war in China during the Sino-Japanese War through World War II.  Researching Chinese aces is confounded by a multitude of factors which have conspired to make things difficult, not the least of which is the language barrier and internal political turmoil and secrecy of the Communist regimes in both mainland China and the Soviet Union after the war.

In this book, author Raymond Chung has provided a look at the air war in China not previously available to Western readers.  Seventeen Chinese pilots scored five or more victories, this book provides short biographies of each along with details of their aerial combats.  These are well researched and cross-referenced with Japanese records, giving details of the names and units of the combatants from both sides.  Any discrepancies are noted and discussed.

Like other books in the Osprey Aces series, one of the major assets of this work is the profile artwork by Chris Davey.  Thirty-one profiles are provided and these span an unusually wide variety of aircraft types which reflect the complex and difficult problem of providing equipment to China at the time.  Fourteen different aircraft are profiled, including a Nieuport flown with the French during WWI through F-84 and F-86s which achieved victories over the Taiwan Strait in the 1950s.

This is not yet another book retelling the stories of Messerschmitts and Mustangs, this material was all new to me.  There are some gaps, noticeably during the conflict between the Nationalists and Communists after the Japanese surrender, but this book goes a long way to start filling the void of information.  Recommended for those with an interest in China during WWII or anyone just wanting to go down a path not well trodden.

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