J-aircraft.com Book Review 
Martin Grant

Title: Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units in World War ll

Author: Ikuhito Hata and Yasuho Izawa.  Translated into English by Don C. Gorham

Publisher: Naval Institute Press

Pages: 442 hardbound cloth-covered

Price: $35.00 U.S. for used near mint cond. book


          The book I got was found on the net and is in very nice condition. It's a hard bound book, cloth covered cover with a paper dust jacket in red, with a famous picture on the cover of a Japanese Pilot saluting with his comrades behind him. I recall elsewhere that this picture is of a "Kamikaze" Pilot about to embark on his mission.
The Book is broke up into 3 major parts: 

1) Japanese Naval Aircraft.  This is mostly black and white war time pictures with brief descriptions of Naval Fighters from late-twenties bi-planes until 1945.

2) Fighter Unit Histories.  It's all here from the various Carrier Squadrons: Hosho, Akagi, Kaga, Ryujo, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, Zuikaku, Zuiho, Shoho, Junyo, Hiyo, Ryuho.  Did we leave anyone out?  Then there is the land based Naval Units, too many to list here, but you can look them up in the table of contents, as they all have their OWN CHAPTER, albeit some of them brief.

3) Biographies of Aces.  Every pilot who scored 8 or more is listed here, according to the Authors. They picked that number, for some reason, as a starting point. There are lots of Aces listed here. From the famous like Sakai, Nishizawa, Sugita etc. to the not so famous. Birth/education/enlistment/overview of record/squadron(s)assigned to/famous battles participated in/outcome (i.e. KIA, MIA or survived the War).

          There is a listing of Japanese Naval Terminology and abbreviations, Ranks and abbreviations, Japanese Naval Air Organization.  In the Appendixes there is the following comprehensive listings:

A) Naval Fighter Unit Aces by Name and Record

B) Key Fighter Pilots killed in Action by Date

C) Naval Fighter Pilots by Class/Aviation Students/Pilot Traineet Students and Hei flight reserve enlisted trainee class students,  Otsu, Ko Flight reserve enlisted trainee students and the relationship between the flight reserve enlisted trainee class system (Yokaren) and flight trainee course (Hiren)

D) Major Air Battles by date.

          The Book also has EXCELLENT single line drawings of Zeros and other Naval Fighters: Claudes, Raidens, Shiden - Shiden-kai, etc that gives explanations of the individual markings on them, as well as examples of A/C taken from individual Squadrons and those flown by famous Pilots like Sakai etc.  For this alone, the book is well worth the price. Especially to detail freaks and modelers.

           The Book is a quality book, the copy I have being sewn together instead of glued. There are drawbacks, however, and that is the obvious bias of the accounts of individual Aces, and Unit Scores.  I don't know if this is on the part of the Authors, or if they are just recounting what they uncovered in their digging through the records of history.  But according to the narratives, in almost ALL of the air combats involving the Navy, no matter how many craft/Pilots they admit to losing, they invariably claim to have shot down MORE U.S. Aircraft just about EVERYTIME!  This and they avoid admitting that their Aces or lesser known Pilots were shot down. Their loss was accounted for as "Destroyed himself" (and we are not talking Kamikaze Ops here) or "became exhausted and heroically destroyed himself by diving into the Sea" or "mysteriously dissappeared, assumed KIA or MIA" etc etc.   Another obvious flaw is the magic number of "4". It seems many many of their Aces "single handedly" destroyed "4" enemy aircraft on their first combat.  A bit transparent, in my view. 


Overall, a very very worthwhile read and even more valuable reference guide for the Historian.

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