Clark Field and the US Army Air Corps- Philippines 1919-1942

Review by Martin Koenigsberg

I started this book a long time ago- right after I found it at a thrift store- and did not finish it until now- after I had seen the actual ground on my Philippines tour. I strongly suggest having a map of Luzon/Bataan/Clark/Subic Bay nearby to aid in comprehension. Richard Meixsel is an expert on the pre war American Philipino relationship and gives us a straight narrative of the pre- war “Golden Age” of American Military involvement in the Colonial and pre- Independence period. The book is more about the development and operations of the airfield complex as a whole than it is about the short defensive campaign fought against the Japanese in 1942, although it does try to add to the over narrative of that period too. It’s a good short history of a little understood era of the American Military. I must also point out something that might surprise my readers- that this slight volume is one of my best Ever Thrift Store finds. I recall paying $1.50 for my copy- then discovering that all other possible copies commanded $55-65.00 Each! It’s just supply and demand- any Pacific War Scholar wants this information- and the original print run was Tiny over at “New Day Publishers”!! But you bet I am holding on to my copy! The book was so much easier to read after I had seen the actual ground- I really hope readers keep maps handy. There are a few adult themes in this book, so I think a Junior Reader might need to be about 13/14 years to get full value out of the story. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, I think it’s mixed bag. The Gamer gets a little bit of information for games re-fighting the opening moves in the Pacific War- and perhaps some for Colonial games as well – but this story is more about overall development and equipment- not overly granular. The modeler will find the story and the picture interesting – but will need a lot of other supporting material to portray Philippines based US Army Air Corps/Philippines Air Force aircraft. It is the Military Enthusiast who comes off the big winner, as this material is hard to come by- even in today’s Philippines. I felt a real connection to the Clark area after I visited it- knowing that my father had been there in WWII- and this book helped me understand its history.

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