P-39/P-400 Airacobra vs A6M2/3 Zero-Sen...

...New Guinea 1942, from Osprey Publishing

Title: P-39/P-400 Airacobra vs A6M2 Zero-Sen

Author: Michael John Claringbould

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-2366-3

This is number 87 in the Osprey Duel series, an 80 page soft cover book. The Zero is one of the most famous fighters of the war, whereas the Airacobra did not generally achieve a great reputation.  In this case we have a period and place quite early in the war in the Pacific where the two aircraft types found themselves as opponents in a difficult environment.

The book is divided into 9 chapters, starting with an Introduction which sets the scene for the two aircraft and of New Guinea itself.  That is followed by a Chronology which goes up to 7 December 1942, when the last combat between a Zero and an Airacobra took place over New Guinea.  At that point we get to the Design & Development story of both types, the Airacobra first and then the Zero, and this includes some nice colour artwork with three view drawings of each type.  That is followed by the Technical Specifications of both, and their sub-variants.  Next is the Strategic Situation, and this includes some maps which help illustrate both wide and localised details.  The Combatants follows, where the training for both American and Japanese pilots.  The artwork includes a detailed look at the instrument panels of both the Airacobra and the Zero.

Then the largest of the individual sections, Combat.  This is the story events, the main players in terms of both American and Japanese pilots, the tactics and the story of the units and events during the combat period covered by the book.  Two small chapters at the end of the book, with Statistics and Analysis plus an Aftermath.  Add a Reading List for further study and the index of the book, that brings it to a close.  In addition to the excellent artwork which Osprey's books are so well known for, there is a good selection of period archive photos which illustrate the text throughout the book.  Interesting for aviation historians with an interest in WW2 in the Pacific and good for modellers as well.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.

Robin