Author: Peter C. Smith
Publisher: Crowood press, Aviation Series
ISBN: 1 86126 278 7
Like many of you, I've long awaited a 'serious' book on the Val, in fact I'm not aware of any other books dedicated to the Val alone. The first few chapters deal with development of IJN dive-bombing and Val conception. The middle third of the book covers the Val's glory days, and is my favorite portion of the book, there are 'Val men' character profiles and eyewitness accounts of relevant battles and definitely a few stunning photos. I most enjoyed the Indian ocean sortie, the Vals were probably at their all-time best, sinking the two Royal Navy heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire and most spectacularly the light carrier Hermes (plastered with an incredible 37 bomb hits!!!), photos of all three ships sinking are included. (one shot is the cornwall,90% vertical, and 2/3rds down.) It was this sortie that forced the Royal Navy to virtually abandon the far east, forever, as a colonial power.
I would note the coverage of the Guadalcanal campaign and the Solomons at large are VERY skimpy...maybe due to British bias?
There is also a section on Vals used as kamikaze at the war's end and a section on surviving Vals in museums (mostly wrecks).
Overall, if your an IJN nut like me, this is a good book to get. If your a modeler, like me again, this book disappoints, there are no color profiles, and worst of all, surprisingly few pictures of Carrier Vals and really even shore based units...particularly of the Solomon theatre. It makes me hope the Osprey people will release a Val (and Kate!) book in their excellent WWII aircraft series, there is hope, as they are releasing a Betty book SOON.(I can't wait!) Osprey sadly undercover IJN/A aircraft in comparison to allied and Luftwaffe subjects...I guess it's because Japan kicked Great Britain's butt! (Osprey is also a British publisher)
Smith's book is a worthy effort, just a little light in photos and lacking in accounts by IJN pilots/crew. I'd also like to have seen more on air to air combat accounts and did Vals perform anti-sub roles?
So, I hope I've been helpful and thanks for reading! -Jesse
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