Pacific Profiles Book Review

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Pacific Profiles Volume One: Japanese Army Fighters New Guinea & the Solomons 1942-1944

By Michael Claringbould

Softcover, 104 pages, index, photographs, and 85 color profiles

Published by Avonmore Books, December 2020

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0648665917

ISBN-13: 978-0648665915

Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches

At the close of the Pacific War the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy were directed to destroy their records and photographs, including logbooks and snapshots kept by the individual service members.  This order, coupled with the language barrier, has long frustrated historians and modelers researching the Japanese military.  The result is few publications in English on the subject, and even many Japanese language sources lack the depth and detail seen in their foreign counterparts.

The author has stepped squarely into this void.  An Australian who spent several years in New Guinea, Michael Claringbould had the opportunity to examine many of the aircraft wrecks there and recorded their camouflage and markings.  He was then able to compare his observations with Allied technical reports and prisoner interrogations, along with surviving wartime photographs including those taken by aircrews attacking Japanese airfields.  Using this information he has rendered a total of 85 color profiles detailing several examples of paint schemes of each of the JAAF fighter Sentai sent to fight in the South Pacific.

Examination of the wrecks has allowed the author to make some interesting observations, particularly concerning the armament of the fighter types in New Guinea.  The three types presented here are the Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar), Ki-45 Toryu (Nick), and Ki-61 Hein (Tony).  Western publications have struggled with sub-type designations for these aircraft, often confusing airframe and armament variants.  This book offers some clarification of these designations.  The most interesting detail for me were the three armament variations of the Ki-43 – two 7.7 mm, two 12.7 mm, or a mixed armament of one gun caliber of each.  Many sources assign either letters or Japanese characters to differentiate each option, but actually the weapon mounts accommodated both weapons and maintenance crews could fit either type in the field.  The author has confirmed this observation with captured Japanese records and service manuals.

This book provides some interesting information for the JAAF researcher and ample eye-candy to inspire modelers.  There is even a section on captured aircraft evaluated by the Americans.  This work is the first in a series, with a companion volume on JAAF bombers and transports already published and additional books announced for later this year.  Recommended for aviation enthusiasts researching Imperial Japanese Army aircraft.

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