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P-38 Lightning vs Ki-61 Tony

P-38 Lightning vs Ki-61 Tony Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2010 Title P-38 Lightning vs Ki-61 Tony
Author Donald Nijboer Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2010 ISBN 978-1-84603-943-0
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $17.95


Osprey has launched an interesting series of titles unde the 'Duel' series - comparing adversaries under specific conditions and looking at the comparison from a variety of perspectives. We've looked at several out of this series and it is turning into a very worthwhile resource.

At face value, the title compares the P-38 Lightning versus the Ki-61 Tony during the battle for the South Pacific, specifically the battle for New Guinea between 1943-44. This historical cross-section is broken down as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Chronology
  • Design and Development
  • The Strategic Situation
  • Technical Specifications
  • The Combatants
  • Combat
  • Statistics and Analysis
  • Aftermath

So in peeling the onion of this story, the author unfolds the timeline in the development of the two aircraft, and how they were developed to completely different design philosophies with the Japanese favoring light, agile aircraft and the US preferring armored aircraft with superior firepower. As with any aerial encounter, the victor will usually be the better, more experienced pilot. One significant difference between the two aircraft is well-illustrated on the cover of this title - when the P-38 loses an engine, the pilot feathers the engine and limps home whereas the Tony pilot gets an opportunity fo some glider practice before bailing out somewhere at sea o over the jungle.

The author provides you a glimpse of how the battle for New Guinea unfolded through the eyes of veterans of both sides as well as through graphics to put these perspectives into context. The carnage that followed is written in the history books, but this interesting look at this slice of the air wa is a good read.

This title is recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishingfo this review sample!