B-29 Hunters of the JAAF contains many fascinating
tidbits about JAAF pilots or B-29 crewmen, but the authors do not give extended
personal stories. In one of the best short stories (pp. 79-81), the authors
describe how seven surviving crewmen parachuted out of a B-29 on fire and
losing altitude after being hit several times by Japanese fighters. Three JAAF
advanced fighter trainers had the opportunity to shoot at one of the Americans,
Second Lieutenant Raymond "Hap" Halloran, coming down in a parachute.
Halloran decided to wave at the one of the pilots, who returned the greeting
with a salute and let him live. Halloran survived the war but was ill-treated
during captivity. In October 2000, Halloran visited the crash site of his B-29,
and on the same trip he shook hands with the Japanese pilot who had spared his
life more than a half century before.
Tokyo exhibit of
JAAF fighter and B-29 mural
Rare historical photos and exceptional color illustrations
fill this book. Several photos display the B-29s' intricate artwork, from
Disney characters to bare-breasted women. The book also includes many
interesting photos of Japanese pilots, American B-29 crews, JAAF planes, and
the remains of crashed B-29s with Japanese onlookers. One photo (p. 65) shows
an exhibition at Hibiya Park in downtown Tokyo of a K-61 Hien
("Tony") used to bring down a B-29 bomber, a mural showing the inside
compartments of a B-29, and the nose wheel and auxiliary fuel tank of a B-29
that crashed into Tokyo Bay (see photo on this page). The book also has many
well-drawn illustrations of JAAF planes, tail markings, unit insignia, and
markings used to signify claims to B-29 kills.
Although this specialized book presents many fascinating
stories and photos, it does not provide enough background information on the
entire scope of the B-29 attacks and the Japanese military's defense of the
home islands. The book covers certain B-29 missions subjected to JAAF ramming
attacks, but the authors do not specify the book's scope to make clear whether
all ramming attacks have been included. The book focuses on ramming attacks, so
the reader does not get an understanding of their relative importance when
compared to conventional aerial attacks or to antiaircraft fire. The book's
purpose seems to be the presentation of interesting aspects of many individual
combat missions, so readers expecting a general history will be disappointed.
The book is packed with details on combat missions, geographical locations, and
combatants' names, so the reading may be slow or confusing for those without
some previous background.
English-language histories about Japan's kamikaze operations
use the term "kamikaze" for the JAAF pilots who made ramming attacks
on B-29s , even though the Japanese military did not use this term to refer
to these pilots. Instead, the Army formed "special attack" units with
the purpose to make suicidal ramming attacks against the B-29s. Both the Army
and Navy formed "special attack corps" to carry out suicide attacks,
and these included planes to crash dive into ships, kaiten manned torpedoes,
explosive motorboats, and other weapons. The official Japanese listing of
soldiers who died in all types of special attacks does not include every JAAF
pilot who died in a suicidal ramming attack (Tokkotai Senbotsusha 1990, 298-9).
Instead, only those pilots in designated special attack units are officially
recognized. The authors of B-29 Hunters of the JAAF do not address
whether or not the JAAF pilots mentioned in the book are members of special
attack forces, and the term "kamikaze" is not used to describe the
The thorough research of Takaki and Sakaida on a narrow
topic resulted in this fascinating book with much information and many photos
not found in other English-language publications.
1. For example, both Hoyt (1983, 189-94) and
Lamont-Brown (1997, 75-6) use the term "kamikaze" for the JAAF pilots
who made ramming attacks. Lamont-Brown (124-6) also uses "kamikaze"
to refer to other ramming attacks made during the war by naval pilots.
Hoyt, Edwin P. 1983. The Kamikazes. Short Hills, NJ:
Lamont-Brown, Raymond. 1997. Kamikaze: Japan's Suicide
Samurai. London: Cassell.
Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kougekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Tokkotai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai.