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Old 16th January 2020, 05:14
Orwell1984 Orwell1984 is offline
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Two new Avonmore titles in 2020

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This Volume Three of Pacific Adversaries conveys detailed stories of aerial warfare in the South Pacific, chosen because both Japanese and Allied records can be matched for an accurate accounting. Often the actual outcomes are very different to the exaggerated claims made by both sides upon which many traditional histories have relied to date. Further, for each of the chosen stories photographic or other evidence enables an accurate depiction of the aircraft involved. Through these chosen snapshots, Pacific Adversaries will portray the South Pacific conflict as accurately as possible. This third volume focuses exclusively on confrontations with the Japanese Navy Air Force (JNAF) in New Guinea and the Solomons, known to the Japanese as the "South Seas". The JNAF first appeared in the South Pacific in December 1941 and was at the vanguard of offensive efforts during the course of 1942. Following the bloody Guadalcanal campaign, the JNAF fought a largely defensive war in New Guinea and the Solomons against increasingly powerful Allied forces. Perhaps surprisingly, right through to the end of 1943 the JNAF offered significant resistance to the Allies and never ceded air superiority in the vicinity of its key base of Rabaul. Only in 1944, when units were withdrawn to the Central Pacific and the Philippines, was the JNAF presence in the South Pacific finally wound down to just a token force. Never before have detailed accounts matched up adversaries so closely and in doing so shine light on key events in Pacific skies so many years ago.

In early 1943 Japanese forces in the South Pacific had suffered three key strategic setbacks. In the Solomons, the Japanese had been forced to withdraw from Guadalcanal in February, signalling the end to a costly and bitterly fought campaign. Likewise, in New Guinea the overland effort to capture Port Moresby had also failed. Then in March came the shock of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea when Allied airpower wiped out virtually an entire resupply convoy on its way to Lae. However Japanese strength in the theatre was far from spent. Indeed, at this critical juncture Allied and Japanese forces were relatively evenly matched. Both sides were waging war against each other's supply lines, and here commander of the IJN Combined Fleet Admiral Yamamoto sensed an opportunity. As the Allies sought to advance up the Solomons and further into New Guinea a huge logistical effort was needed. Anchorages packed with ships and newly constructed airfield complexes were prime targets. By temporarily bolstering his land-based air force at Rabaul with carrier-based airpower, Yamamoto assembled a strike force of hundreds of aircraft. With these he planned to overwhelm Allied defences in a multi-day blitz against four crucial locations in New Guinea and the Solomons. Named Operation I-Go, it would be the largest IJN air operation ever launched in the region. The odds favoured the plan, and any such offensive waged in 1942 would surely have wreaked havoc with Allied defences. However, by 1943 I-Go was a huge gamble. Would it strike a body blow and give the Allies reason to pause their advance? Or would it cause irrecoverable wastage of IJN offensive air power? The results of I-Go were surprising, although it only achieved a fraction of what the Japanese claimed. However, the greatest irony was that it led to the death of its architect, Yamamoto, who was killed just days after the operation was completed. This is the first detailed account of I-Go written with reference to both Japanese and Allied sources, and it surely sets a new historical benchmark for this key chapter of the Pacific War.
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