...a new book from Osprey Publishing
Title: Pacific Thunder
Author: Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
One of the major changes in Naval warfare in WW2 was the rise to prominence of the Aircraft Carrier, over the previous dominance of the Battleship. This 284-page book tackles a major element of this story by covering the Central Pacific Campaign of the US Navy between August 1943 and October 1944. My own attention was grabbed by one of the notes on the front inside cover. The sinking of the USS Hornet in October 1942 was the last American Fleet Carrier to be sunk during the war. That alone suggests the success of the US Navy campaign that mastered the naval war in the Pacific.
What this book does very neatly is to put all the various aspects of the story into the historical sequence of events and all done in what I found to be a very 'readable' style. It provides the background with the pre-war exercises which provided some useful lessons which were learnt and adapted into events in the conduct of the war. The industrial capacity of the USA was put to good use in the building of three types of carrier, with Fleet, Light and Escort carriers all playing their own parts in the story, and built in numbers that Japan simply couldn't match. That was accompanied by the wartime developments which provided new aircraft to replace the less capable equipment they had at the outset. In comparison, the Japanese advantages in aircraft performance was matched and surpassed, and the number of level of training of the pilots themselves were again an uneven match the longer the war went on.
The personalities of the US Navy senior commanders are examined, including one whose work as a tactician was first class, but whose personal behaviour proved to be his downfall. Then there is the role of the submarine, not just in attacking enemy shipping, but observing it and reporting sightings that added to US intelligence while they also acted as Lifeguards, able to loiter near target areas in order to pick up downed aircrews. Included in this was the rescue of future US President, George W. Bush.
The historical story is all there are well, with famous battles of the Pacific War such as Midway, the Marianas Turkey Shoot, Iwo Jima and Leyte Gulf among others. To add to the text there are two sections of archive photos which help illustrate the narrative. It's an interesting story, includes both good and bad aspects of the US Naval campaign in the Pacific and of course a vital aspect in the rise to prominence of the aircraft carrier.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.