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War in the Pacific Skies

War in the Pacific Skies Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2010 Title War in the Pacific Skies
Author Charlie and Ann Cooper Publisher Zenith Press
Published 2010 ISBN 978-0-7603-3932-9
Format 192 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $27.99


Zenith Press has released an interesting new title covering the air war in the Pacific during World War II. The authors are husband and wife, both with strong aviation backgrounds - Ann Cooper is a flight instructor with five books to her credit and over 700 magazine articles while Charlie Cooper retired as a Major General in the Air National Guard and he has three books to his credit. While these are good credentials for producing such a title, what brings this to life is the magnificent aviation art of Jack Fellows.

There are lots of aviation history books out there and there are many worth having on the shelf. What makes this one different is the blend of story, photography, and art. Sounds odd perhaps, but stop and think about it - when you walk into the National Air and Space Museum, the aircraft exhibits are there to be seen and viewed from different angles. Photographs provide snapshots in time which help to put each exhibit into perspective, but it is the larger than life murals and paintings that tell the story. There are quite a few aviation artists 'out there' but few have the talent to tell the story in oil (or acrylic or whatever medium). Jack Fellows is one of those artists.

Take a look at the table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Imperial Japan Seizes the Offensive
  • The End of the Beginning
  • Moving on Moresby
  • Cactus Air Force
  • Pacific Strategy
  • Operation Cartwheel
  • Island Hopping
  • China-Burma-India
  • Return to the Philippines
  • Victory

The authors do a nice job putting each section into perspective and illustrate that perspective with good period photographs. Each painting takes a piece of that story and brings it to life. Take that cover art. You see Tondelayo, a B-25 raider who has already lost and engine and is being swarmed by Zeros. What is noteworthy is that Tondelayo was able to fight through the opposition and get home, while the other two B-25s in the background were lost in that action.

From the opening painting of Amelia Earhart's flying off into the Pacific oblivion to a nighttime attack on a Japanese cruiser by a B-24 that crippled the vessel a few days before the end of the war, these paintings really do bring this title to life. I like the painting of the P-61 sitting low and behind an unsuspecting Zero right before it was blasted out of the sky.

The 'Postlude' ending puts some interesting facts into perspective such as the story that accompanies the VF-84 'Jolly Rogers' F-14 Tomcat painting which describes how many of the tactics used today came from John T. 'Tommy' Blackburn, commander of VF-17 'Jolly Rogers' of World War 2.

This is a well-written and beautifully illustrated book that will provide a unique look into the Pacific Air War during World War II.

This title is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Zenith Press for this review sample!