Archives

“A Pitiful, Unholy Mess:” 
The History of Wheeler, Bellows, and Haleiwia Fields, and the Japanese Attacks of 7 December 1941.
By J. Michael Wenger, Robert J. Cressman and John F. Di Virgilio. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md. 2022. 336 pp. Ill.
“A Pitiful, Unholy Mess:” The History of Wheeler, Bellows, and Haleiwia Fields, and the Japanese Attacks of 7 December 1941
By J. Michael Wenger, Robert J. Cressman and John F. Di Virgilio | Dec. 19, 2023
After a lengthy essay on the exploration and settlement of this portion of Oahu in late 1922, the authors begin this fascinating history of the establishment of the U.S. Army air base in Hawaii. Initially, its strategic importance seems to have been overshadowed by its almost paradise-like atmosphere with idyllic settings, beaches and exotic distance from the U.S. mainland. Photos of buildings, airfields and especially the Army aircraft of the period, taken from little-known collections, augment the interest of this fourth book in the exhaustive “Pearl Harbor Tactical Studies Series” of the Japanese attack that thrust America into World War II.

The Road to Pearl Harbor: Great Power War in Asia and the Pacific 
By John H. Maurer; Edited by Erik Goldstein. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md. 2022. 209 pp
The Road to Pearl Harbor: Great Power War in Asia and the Pacific
By John H. Maurer; Edited by Erik Goldstein | Dec. 19, 2023
This new book on the Japanese attack is more of a scholastic treatise, published as it was without a single photograph, except for the one on the front cover, which I find highly unusual in today’s publishing market. Photos are always required, if only to relieve very dry presentations and perhaps make the reader’s job easier, as this book’s struggles to keep one’s attention. For some reason, the first chapter is incredibly verbose and complicated on how the attack on Pearl Harbor might be planned and accomplished.

100 Greatest Battles
By Angus Konstam, Osprey Publishing, UK. 2023. 224 pp. Ill.
100 Greatest Battles
By Angus Konstam | Dec. 19, 2023
A very unusual concept, this book offers descriptions of what the author considers to be history’s 100 greatest battles from Marathon 490 B.C. to Desert Storm, 1991.Each two-page entry contains a full-page illustration of a battle scene (no photos), while the second page contains a concise description of the battle. Obviously, it is a unique use of existing “artworks” from Osprey’s many other volumes from existing series. The $20 price is very attractive.

Introduction to Fall Professional Reading
Introduction to Fall Professional Reading
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | Dec. 19, 2023
A quick look at the reviews in the Fall column will show a focus on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, certainly one of this country’s history’s seminal events that thrust us into what had been a major war.

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Keeping the Peace, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 During the Cold War 1946-1991
By Stephen K. Dixon | Sept. 7, 2023
Most single-book histories of specific Marine aircraft squadrons have been published by the Marine Corps History Division at Quantico, Virginia. However, this account of the “Thunderbolts” comes from a commercial publisher in Great Britain and the U.S. Its author is a former enlisted member of the “elect shop” (sic). While certainly a welcome addition to literature of specific Marine Corps squadrons, the book is not without errors in both writing and terminology, mostly in need of a knowledgeable editor, which is a problem these days encountered when reading about military aviation.

Essex-Class Aircraft Carriers 1945-91 Book Cover
Essex-Class Aircraft Carriers 1945-91
By Mark Stille, Osprey Publishing | Sept. 7, 2023
No. 310 in Osprey’s New Vanguard Series, this short but interesting volume focuses on an important class of American aircraft carriers, many of which saw constant action during the Vietnam War, although most of these ships were begun or completed during World War II, and saw action at the end of the war as well as during the Korean War. The author is a retired U.S. Navy commander with a career in naval intelligence.

H6K “Mavis”/H8K “Emily” vs PB4Y-1/2 Liberator/Privateer Book Cover
H6K “Mavis”/H8K “Emily” vs PB4Y-1/2 Liberator/Privateer, Pacific Theater 1943-45
By Edward M. Young, Osprey Publishing | Sept. 7, 2023
No.126 in Osprey’s popular Duel series, this author’s new book puts two highly-successful types of aircraft against each other. Little known in most accounts of the Pacific War, the two flying boats of the Imperial Navy (IJN) roamed the Pacific from the beginning of the war. They were virtually unchallenged until America’s entry following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Emily actually having made a few occasional long-distance reconnaissance missions toward Pearl Harbor and Midway before detection and the subsequent attack and the four-day battle in June 1942, respectively, that resulted in the loss of four major Japanese aircraft carriers and many of their aircraft and combat-experienced crews.

Prairie to the Pacific book cover art.
By Capt. Gil Rud, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Elm Grove Publishing, San Antonio, Texas. 2022.
From the Prairie to the Pacific: A Blue Angel’s Journey
By Capt. Gil Rud, U.S. Navy (Ret.) | June 22, 2023
Most books written as autobiographies or memoirs by those who have served in the U.S. military are often touted as putting the reader in the cockpit in the midst of the action described, or presenting themselves or the individual whose deeds and careers described as giving the reader the chance to experience what they have in the decades that include that story. Some succeed, many do not. Capt. Rud has definitely achieved that goal. Indeed, any of us who have gone through Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), flown many different types of aircraft in or out of combat, known so many other people of the same frame of mind and intent, will find themselves nodding or shaking their heads, smiling as they recall their own time in these arenas that could try our single and collective spirits and dedication to ourselves as well to others.

By Michael John Claringbould, Osprey Publishing, Ltd. 2022.
F4U Corsair vs A6M Zero-sen, Rabaul and the Solomons 1943-44
By Michael John Claringbould, Osprey Publishing, Ltd. | June 22, 2023
During World War II, certain pairings developed—the Battle of Britain, Spitfire vs. the Bf-109, 1944-45, the Mustang vs. the Me-262 jet, and in the Pacific, on the Solomon Island Chains, 1943-44, the F4U Corsair and the Zero. The big-crank-winged Corsair, the new aircraft in the American approach to the naval fighter, quickly established itself against the veteran Mitsubishi Zero that had opposed Allied carrier fighters from the beginning starting with Pearl Harbor.

By Mathew J. Garretson. 2021.
Blue Angels Decades 1946-1955
By Mathew J. Garretson | June 22, 2023
There have been many books and articles about the Blue Angels in both commercial and Navy publications. We would think that everything has been shown and related about this group of naval aviators, and the people who support them on the ground so they can give the people who watch their outstanding flight demonstrations at air shows around the country the best impression of just how colorful and exciting flying for the Navy and the Marine Corps is. This new book shows how much remains to be told.

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F2H Banshee Units
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | March 23, 2023
F2H Banshee Units, By Richard R. Burgess, Osprey Publishing Ltd., UK. 2022. 96 pp. Ill. No. 141 in Osprey’s Combat Aircraft series, this latest book from retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Burgess is his usual highly detailed and colorful account of one of the two U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ jet fighters in the Korean War of 1950-53.

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Douglas F4D-1/F-6A Skyray
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | March 23, 2023
Douglas F4D-1/F-6A Skyray, by Nicholas M. Williams, 2021. 257 pp. Ill. A considerable upgrade from the previous 1986 “Naval Fighters No. 13,” this new edition offers 60 additional pages that, of course, include many more photos of what might be considered Douglas’ futuristic bat-wing naval interceptor of the late 1950s-early 1960s.

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Kamikaze, Japan’s Last Bid for Victory
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | March 23, 2023
Kamikaze, Japan’s Last Bid for Victory, by Adrian Stewart, Pen & Sword Aviation, Yorkshire, UK. 2022. 209 pp. Ill. This author’s list of previously published works, most of which come from Pen & Sword, deals with United Kingdom units in WWII, so he is in home territory once more. Few of these other books are listed in the bibliography.

The Aircraft Carrier Hiryu
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | Dec. 21, 2022
I may be prejudiced, but this medium-format, very-well illustrated volume is one of the most unusual books I have seen in some time. It is the latest title in Osprey’s “Anatomy of the Ship” series and is worth every penny of its price.

“F9F Panther vs Communist AAA, Korea 1950-53 book cover art.”
F9F Panther vs Communist AAA, Korea 1950-53
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | Dec. 21, 2022
No. 121 in the long-running “Duel” series, this latest title by prolific Osprey author Peter Davies addresses an interesting, seldom-described area in the air war during the Korean War, that of one of the U.S. Navy’s two major jet fighters’ record against the often fearsome barrage of Communist major defenses, that of often intense ground anti-aircraft fire.

“F3D/EF-10 Skyknight Units of the Korean and Vietnam Wars cover art.”
F3D/EF-10 Skyknight Units of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | Dec. 21, 2022
Occasionally forgotten in Navy and Marine Corps aviation history, the Douglas F3D Skyknight was a twin-jet carrier-based night fighter with a mixed career that included a brief use in its intended role aboard carriers with the Navy.

At the Dawn of Airpower, the U.S. Army, 
Navy and Marine Corps’ Approach to the Airplane, 1907-1917
By Laurence M. Burke II 
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD. 2022. 338 pages. Ill
At the Dawn of Airpower, the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps’ Approach to the Airplane, 1907-1917
By By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | Oct. 3, 2022
Books about the first decade of aircraft development and use by the U.S. military are few and far between, and several have come from the Naval Institute Press, the publication arm of the venerable U.S. Naval Institute, based in Annapolis, Maryland, which the United States Naval Academy also calls home. This latest book on the subject of early military aviation is a lengthy discussion of how the three main American services first discovered aviation then took their time in indoctrinating their first aviation crews and their aircraft into halting use and understanding. It wasn’t easy. Few major technological advances are. It might be said that even today, a century later, we are still learning how to best design and build and finally use the descendants of these flimsy doped canvas-and-wood flying machines. The author has served as an experienced curator of several aviation museums and departments, including the imposing National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia, certainly not to be missed by tourists of the Washington, D.C., area and especially Marine Corps veterans of any years’ duration. To an extent, his writing emulates that of an academician, typical of a Ph.D.’s (which he is) doctoral thesis, and it starts out with a lengthy heavy-worded introductory first chapter describing how each service began its particular air department.

When the Shooting Stopped, August 1945 
By Barrett Tillman, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK. 2022. 304 pages. Ill.
When the Shooting Stopped, August 1945
By By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | Oct. 3, 2022
So many books and articles and occasional papers have been written about World War II’s different theaters, it might be good to stop and consider if anything at all has been written about when the fighting stopped, when the war was finished and people were allowed to return home from whence they came to fight, or what were they doing when word of the ceasefire finally reached them. Leave it to one of military aviation’s premier authors and historians to step up to take a crack at this unusual bit of reporting.

Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units Book Cover illustration
LITERARY REVIEW: 'Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units'
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | May 10, 2022
LITERARY REVIEW: 'Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units' By Mark Chambers with Tony Holmes. Osprey Publishing, UK. 2021. 96 pages. III.

Chinese Air Power Book Cover
LITERARY REVIEW: 'Chinese Air Power'
By Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.) | May 10, 2022
LITERARY REVIEW: Chinese Air Power By Yefim Gordon & Dmitriy Komissarov, Crécy Publications, Manchester, England. 2021. 400 pages. Ill.