Book review by Martin Koenigsberg
The US Military had a new toy but they did not know how to use it. The Vought F4U Corsair looked cool with these gull wings but seemed to be hard to handle and hard to fight. Even though the British Fleet Air Arm loved the plane for Carrier Operations because they could tell what an improvement it was on their previous mounts, the US Navy felt it was better suited for ground ops. They foist it off on the Marines, whose fighter pilots were involved in a key struggle for Air Supremacy over Rabaul and the Solomon Islands. It would be up to the Marines to really prove if the Vought engineers had done their job, making a fighter that could beat the Mitsubishi Zero. The Japanese, beset with logistical and doctrinal issues, were betting their 1941 Technology was good enough to hold the line.
Michael John Claringbould, an aviation writer and one of Osprey Publishing’s regular contributors tells the story in his book F4U Corsair versus A6M Zero-sen: Rabaul and the Solomons 1943–44 with a lot of Anecdotes, memoir glimpses, and good solid research. Readers will be impressed both by the b/w pics, color plates, maps, and battle diagrams, and the general pace of operations in the Pacific Air War.
The Allies and the Japanese were sending up 10-15 aircrafts a day, some planes flying multiple sorties each day, and all the other administrative flying that entailed, as downed flyers were grabbed by PBYs and C-47s carried gear all over the theatre. It’s a great brew of information and gives the feel for the period. This is the struggle that featured “Pappy” Boyington and “Black Sheep” Squadron- and Claringbould keeps them in perspective, rather than fawning like a fan of the TV Series. A nice little presentation in this “Duel” series from the publisher.
There are few adult themes and no graphic casualty passages, so this is a good choice for a Junior Reader over 10/11 years. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast—the market this series was created for—it’s a good fit. The Gamer gets a lot of Scenario/Campaign ideas, as well as those color plates for painting. The Modeler gets a good jumping-off point and some nice build and diorama ideas, but might want to look it over before buying.
The Military Enthusiast gets a close-up look at two particular iconic airframes in a microcosmic campaign. As with so much of WWII- Allied engineering caught up with and surpassed Axis tech, and then American manufacturing just overwhelmed the enemy with a superior solution and support. A good book for the 1940s aircraft buff for sure.