The Only War We've Got

Japanese Army fighter units and aces

Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1931 to 1945 (Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa, Christopher Shores)

At long last, the Japanese Army Air Force gets it due! Christopher Shores is a British national treasure, and his books about Allied air campaigns have become required reading for aviation buffs worldwide. More recently he has teamed with co-authors from the Axis countries to do their same for their air forces.

In this case, the book already existed, and this is essentially a translation of Nihon rikugun sentokitai by Ikuhiko Hata and Yasuho Izawa. Published by Gendaishi Shuppankai in 1982, the book meticulously reconstructed the history of each JAAF fighter group and independent fighter squadron, while also providing short biographies of the principal JAAF aces. I translated some of this material while I was researching Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers. Now here it is in English, along with a good short history of the JAAF in the war, maps of the various theaters in which it fought, and--most remarkable of all--a list of the JAAF fighter pilots lost during the war, with the date and circumstances.

I compared that last list to the combats in which the AVG could possibly have been involved. The results can be seen on this website at JAAF fighter pilots lost in China-Burma area, 1941-42. An earlier page, taken from the Japanese edition, can be seen at Japanese army aces and their victory claims.

A book for the library of anyone with a serious interest in the Pacific War.

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Flying Tigers

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