Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Beginning of the End in the Pacific

Another recent acquisition that I want to take a closer look at. The Osprey Duel book on Kamikaze vs US Navy Ships is very interesting as it comes much closer to the essence of that series by opposing two entirely different weapon systems. The differences in performance between two tanks is mostly overcast by their tactical employment (is your army on the strategical offensive/defensive?), but in this case the kamikazes were a fundamental departure in Japanese air operations, and it took the Americans considerable time to adapt.

Author Mark Stille provides a lot of relevant detail and analysis on kamikaze tactics, anti aircraft defense and damage control. The book also contains extensive descriptions of actual kamikaze attacks, which gets a bit repetitive. And the technical detail comes at the expense of the psychological aspects of the kamikaze. But all in all one of the better Ospreys in this series that I've encountered.

As a relative noob to the Pacific Theatre I hadn't realised how badly the Japanese navy and air force had been beaten in the Marianas and early stages of the Philippines campaign. This meant that I had missed the level of desperation the Japanese leadership had already been reduced to by that time. It also means they were cynical and criminal in pursuing the war for another year when it was obvious they could not win it.

So when I saw that John Prados had been interviewed on exactly this subject by New Books in Military History about his Storm Over Leyte: The Philippine Invasion and the Destruction of the Japanese Navy, I listened to the podcast. 

Prados has many interesting things to say about the fundamental shift in Japanese naval strategy at this stage, which effectively gave up their old doctrine for big surface fleet action for targetting an invasion force. The book goes deep into the intelligence side of the preparations for the campaign (which is where Prados has professional expertise) and how it affected strategy. A good interview that left me much more knowledgeable. 

Check out the other books in the NBiMH series as well!

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