Book Review: “Fighters Over Japan, Part 2” by Tomasz Szlagor and Leszek A. Wieliczko

Like Part I, Part II of Kagero’s “Fighters over Japan” is a softbound book with 34 pages. However, instead of covering Japanese Army Air Force and United States Army Air Force fighters as Part I did, Part II focuses mostly on Japanese Navy and United States Navy fighters. In addition, there are only 15 aircraft profiles, but each profile shows both sides of the aircraft, a top view, and at least the undersides of the wings.

There are four aircraft profiles of USAAF fighters in Part II, but the only Iwo Jima VLR Mustang included is 300 “My Achin!” Ass, flown by the CO of the 531st FS, Major Harry C. Crim.

Again, like Part I, what this book lacks in meaningful text describing the air war over Japan in the last few months of the Pacific War, is made up in the fantastic color aircraft profiles by Polish artist Janusz Swaitlon.

Janusz Swaitlon
Janusz Swaitlon

The 15 color profiles in the book cover the following aircraft:

Mitsubishi A6M5c Model 52 Hei Zero, No. 03-09, Serial Number 32374, flown by Joto Hiko Heiso Takeo Tanimizu of 203rd Sento Hitokai.

Mitsubishi A6M5a Model 52 Ko Zero, No. YoD-126, Serial Number unknown, flown by Shoi Sadaaki Akamatsu of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. YoD-152, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Susumu Ito of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. 352-20, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Yoshihiro Aoki of the 1st Hikotai, 352nd Kokutai.

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. YoD-1183, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Ei Fukuda of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).

Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden Kai Model 21 Ko, 343-B-30, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Yoshishige Hayashi, 407th Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai (decals included).

Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai Model 21, No. 343-A-15, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Naoshi Kanno, 301st Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai.

Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai Model 21, No. 343-B-03, Serial Number unknown, flown by Hiko Heisocho Hiroshi Ohara, 407th Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai (decals included)

Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair, No. 167, BuNo. 57803, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Roger Hedrick, VF-84, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) (decals included).

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, No. 9, BuNo unknown, flown by Lt. Hamilton McWhorter, III, VF-12, USS Randolph (CV-15) (decals included).

Chance Vought Corsair IV, 115-X, KD 658, flown by Lt. Robert H. Gray DSC, No. 1841 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, HMS Formidable (decals included).

Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt, 42 “Passionate Patsy”, Serial No. 42-29091, flown by Lt. Ralph Barns, 310th FS, 58th FG, 5th AF.

North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, 300 “My Achin!” Ass, Serial No. 44-73623, flown Major Harry C. Crim, CO of the 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, 10 “Little Girl”, Serial No. 44-64124, flown by Captain Leroy Grosshuesch, 39th FS, 35th FG, 5th AF (decals included).

Republic P-47N-1-RE Thunderbolt, 08 “Cheek Baby”, Serial No. 44-87996, flown by Lt. Durwood B. Williams, 333rd FS, 318th FG, 5th AF (decals included).

A very nice decal sheet is included which provides decals in 1/32nd, 1/48th, and 1/72nd scales. While decals for Major Crim’s 300 “My Achin!” Ass are not included, the decals include several JNAF fighters that participated in the defense of the Japanese Home Islands. One of those is the decals for Chui Ei Fukuda’s Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden, who is believed to have been shot down by Major James B. Tapp, CO of the 78th FS, on April 19, 1945.

Major Harry C. Crim – Major Crim was the 3rd highest scoring VLR ace with six confirmed victories, and the only fighter ace of the 21st FG. He joined the 21st FG in August, 1944, after serving with the 14th Fighter Group in Tunisia flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Unable to score any aerials victories with 14th FG, he scored his first two victories, a Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony” and a Kawasaki Ki-45 “Nick” on April 7, 1945, the first VLR mission flown by the 7th Fighter Command Mustangs. His last victory, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, came on July 6, 1945 during a strike mission against Atsugi airfield.

In an obvious publicity photo, then Captain Crim (left) discusses fighter tactics with Brig. General Ernest M. “Mickey” Moore, while Major DeWitt Spain listens in front of a 531st FS Mustang parked under the wing of a B-29.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3
Mark W. Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association

Janusz Swaitlon – Janusz Swaitlon is a professional military history book illustrator specializing in aircraft profiles. You can purchase aircraft profiles from Mr. Swaitlon. I have purchased two aircraft profiles from him in the past; Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV” (78th FS, 15th FG), and 1st Lt. William Sak’s 528 “Enchantress” (457th FS, 506th FG). He emailed me the digital files of the aircraft profiles, and I took them to a commercial printer and had them professionally printed. His aircraft profiles are top-notch. Check out his website at Janusz.swaitlon.eu. He can be contacted by email at contact@janusz-swaitlon.eu.

Like Part I, this book is no longer in print, but you can still find it on Amazon at inflated prices.

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