of the Aces No.55
P-40 Warhawk Aces of the Pacific
by Tony Oliver
ISBN: 1 84176 536 8
96pp 250x180mm (10x7in)
120 b/w photographs
10pp colour profiles (digital)
1 Appendix, Bibliography and index of colour illustrations
2pp scale drawings 1:72nd scale
back cover of Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces book proclaims that
the series is the best selling collection of specialist aviation
publications in recent years with over 350,000 copies sold.
A claim that is quite easy to believe based on an ever-expanding
range and diversity of titles.
Characterised by the evocative
cover artwork of artist Ian Wyllie, Osprey started with a high
standard of illustration, historical research and above all
an informative and very readable narrative back in 1994 with
'P-51 Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force' by Jerry Scutts.
Ten years and over 60 titles later see no sign of Osprey's flagship
series slowing down.
This recent title which was
first published in 2003, deals with P-40 Aces of the Pacific
theatre and starts logically with the events of December 7th
The P-40's battle debut was
less than auspicious and the Warhawk started out with a reputation
tarnished by events that were not of its own doing. However,
future air fighting 'legends' including Frances Gabreski and
George Welch put up a spirited if not a little belated defence
against the carrier strike force of Mitsuo Fuchida.
This title differs little from
its predecessors and follows the successful format of combining
a historical timeline narrative supported by first class illustrations
and period photographs. In this case some of the photos are
not of the best quality but I suspect that this is a result
of the theatre of war covered and the sources from personal
archives, which have survived for over 60 years.
In fact deciphering old photos
of indistinct detail adds to the fun of researching a particular
As is often the case the job is made that much easier by the
inclusion of high quality profile artwork. Jim Laurier is perhaps
better known for his aviation art and his paintings have a quality
and accuracy that places him alongside Robert Taylor and Nicholas
Trudgian, with a skill of being able to convincingly portray
combat aircraft in their natural environment.
The profiles in this edition
break with Jim's preferred medium of oils and are, I believe,
Mac computer generated. Here's a link to more info on Jim and
his work for Osprey
Mark Styling provides further
modelling references, with some excellent 72nd scale drawings.
Mark also has a prolific catalogue of Osprey titles he has contributed
to including Mac generated profiles as well as his scale drawings.
Although no reference to accuracy
can be stated here, they do add to existing drawings and can
only expand the modeller's perception of what an accurate Warhawk
model should look like. You can never have enough reference
. as they say
Moving away from the direct
review of the title for a moment to personal opinion; I feel
that the book was let down by the size of the photos and whilst
the format is such that it doesn't allow large single spread
images, a few larger clearer shots would have been welcome to
me as a modeller. This is a feature of many titles in this series.
A further comment on the tonal
values of the profiles is that they appear dark. This might
be a feature of the colour process or maybe even my copy and
replicating true colour values in print could be an issue here,
but in view of the subject matter and the fact that many of
these aircraft would have suffered from fading due to high UV
levels, then the uniformity of the profiles whilst of a superb
quality, does become a bit wearing. Nevertheless the detail
included is incredible and the 250x180mm format of the book
just doesn't do them justice! Hopefully a collection of these
artists' profiles will appear in large format in the future.
This is Carl Molesworth's third
title on a theme of the P-40 and he has specialised in researching
USAAF units of the China-Burma-India campaign, interviewing
veterans from these little publicised theatres.
Moving through the history of
the Pacific airwar for land based operations, the author competently
deals with chapters on the Dutch East Indies and the attacks
on Darwin and mainland Australia and follows the turn of the
tide with New Guinea, Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands ending
up with a vivid account of the forgotten war in the foul weather
of the Aleutian chain. Surely the most loathed posting any USAAF
pilot could wish for.
With the recent large-scale
popularity of Curtiss' underdog in the shape of the 'much-discussed'
Trumpeter P-40B and the promise of more to come in even larger
scales, this title might just prove invaluable for reference
The majority of the colour profiles
focus on the E and N variants with a handful of K's and a single
B in the shape of Welch's 47th Pursuit Squadron machine thrown
in (the reason I bought the book!); but all are colourful renditions
on a theme, proving that there's more to a Warhawk than a sharkmouth
and a flying tiger!
Aces of the CBI Osprey No.35
Aces of the MTO Osprey No.43