P-40 Warhawk vs Ki-43 Oscar
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 26 May 2008
Full title: P-40 Warhawk vs Ki-43 Oscar, China 1944-45
I grew up with stories of the Flying Tigers, American volunteers arriving in China to bolster the strength of the Chinese during WW2. That is why when I heard that the next installment of Osprey's "Duel" series was on the matched up between the P-40 Warhawk and the Ki-43 Hayabusa, with the former being a favorite of Flying Tigers pilots, I knew I had to get a copy.
P-40 Warhawk vs Ki-43 Oscar began with a fairly in-depth overview of the development history of the two opposing designs, which was expected. Detailed drawings provided excellent visual aids for the readers, done with the same high level of quality as most other Osprey books. Beyond the technical aspect of things, there were two topics of discussion that were most enlightening. First, author Carl Molesworth dove into the design philosophy of each series of fighters; while the P-40 Warhawk aircraft were made for a variety of missions, thus heavily armed and heavily armored at the expense of maneuverability, Japanese military tradition steered Ki-43 Hayabusa design a complete opposite direction, which made them fast, agile, but inadequately armed for anything beyond air-to-air combat. The other item that I absolutely treasured was the analysis on the training methods and culture of American and Japanese pilots. Aircraft were but machines that acted as the extension of their operators; the understanding of the training of typical American and Japanese pilots and of the mindset of the typical pilots was beneficial in understanding the reasons why dogfights unfolded the ways they did.
The majority of the dogfights discussed in this book took place during the Ichi-Go offensive that began in Apr 1944. Extensive use of first-person accounts made the description of engagements personal and, with a degree of guilt on my part, very exciting. The 80-page book was by no means large, so it was not too surprising that it made the short list of books that I was able to finish in just about one sitting; however, it was because Molesworth's ability to involve me as a reader in the high-flying actions that I was able to turn page after page, losing track of time.
As a fan of the Flying Tigers, I was treated to plenty photographs of shark-mouthed P-40 Warhawk fighters at rest in Chinese airfields, many of them I had never seen before. Equally treasured were the photographs of Japanese Army pilots and officers, some of whom did not survive of war. These photographs provided the reminder that, despite of the book's title, a duel between a P-40 Warhawk aircraft and a Ki-43 Hayabusa aircraft was not merely a duel of machines. Instead, such a duel was between the pilots, both skilled, brave, and patriotic to their respective countries.
I recommend this book to all military aviation enthusiasts. Like many Osprey books, P-40 Warhawk vs Ki-43 Oscar should be a useful title as reference for modelers as well.
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945