The Japanese air raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942 was the first (of ninety seven) and by far the largest Japanese air attack on the Australian mainland during the Second World War. It was also the only one to involve naval aircraft from the main Japanese carrier force, which was still several months away from destruction at Midway, and as this raid demonstrates gave the Japanese a powerful, mobile striking force that allowed them to take the initiative just about anywhere around the borders of their rapidly aquirred empire.
This book focuses very much on the air battle. We get plenty of eye witness accounts from both sides, along with a detailed analysis of the limited fighting in the air, the fate of all aircraft lost on both sides, and an equally detailed examination of the aircraft lost on both side (mainly on the Allied side, with comparatively large numbers lost in the air and on the ground). It’s nice to have the Japanese point of view representing in such detail - that is often not the case even in much larger books on the Pacific War.
One unusual feature is the very detailed map showing the attack patterns of the different Japanese formations as they flew across Darwin itself, colour coded by the type of aircraft. This shows the precise nature of the Japanese plan, which saw different aircraft from different carriers given clear targets across Darwin. A more sobering map is the one showing the location of the ten aircraft to crash during the day – one Japanese aircraft and nine of the ten P-40s of the 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), which was wiped out in the fighting. We also get the more familiar overview maps, showing the approach and exit routes for the Japanese aircraft.
Origins and Background
Author: Bob Alford