...Japan's Bid to Knock Out Henderson Field and the Cactus Air Force, from Osprey Publishing
Title: Guadalcanal 1942-43
Author: Mark Stille
Number 13 in Osprey's Air Campaign series takes on the subject of the 6-month long battle for Guadalcanal. A 96-page softcover book with an excellent account of the fighting for Guadalcanal, and particularly the focus on Henderson Field, an airstrip on the island that hosted the US 'Cactus Air Force'.
The Introductions starts the book off, setting the background to the story. It followed the important naval battle of Midway in June of 1942, when the IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) suffered important losses, particularly of their carriers. Starting just a short time later, they planned to continue their expansion along the Solomon Islands and try to take Port Moresby, threatening the lines of communication between the USA and Australia. As part of that plan, they needed to have an air base closer to their target for their aircraft, and started to build an airfield on the island of Guadalcanal. The US took over the incomplete airstrip, and finished it for their own use. So, after a Chronology which gives us the timeline, the book goes on to outline both the Attackers (Japanese) and Defenders (USA) Capabilities, including their various aircraft types and hence the Campaign Objectives for both sides. Then it moves on to the description of the course of the campaign. It focuses on the use of air power, though the navies were still involved. One of the most famous naval elements must be the 'Tokyo Express', as fast night-time convoys, largely with the use of fast destroyers, the IJN tried to reinforce their ground forces. It left the US Marines to fiercely defend the island, and the airfield, which they did, through various pressures and 'ups and downs'. It is all rounded off naturally with an Analysis and Conclusion as the Japanese ground forces were unable to make their numerical advantages count.
The archive images which accompany the test are also assisted by some excellent examples of Osprey's well renowned artwork, this time done by Jim Laurier. There are maps, diagrams, 'Birds-Eye' views and some evocative battle scenes. A nice clear account of the story of Guadalcanal, supported by good imagery and offering really good value for money. Easy to recommend.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.