Tainan is situated in the south of the island of Formosa which gave its name to one of the most important groups of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force. In this dedicated volume, the activity of this prestigious unit in the New Guinea theatre of operations in the second half of 1942 is amply illustrated.
This is the first English-language monograph specifically devoted to the detailed study of a major Japanese air unit. The co-authors are Luca Ruffato, a long time contributor to our magazine, and Australian Michael J. Claringbould, who collaborated internationally to produce this work. Based largely on Japanese documentation, the work details aerial activity by comparing opposing claims, lists all missions and battles, and pays particular attention to the analysis of relative losses. The illustrations spread throughout the text are really impressive, supplemented by photos of mostly Japanese origin, but also those of the enemy. The quality of paper in some cases does not do justice to the final photo quality, and lacks the sharpness of the original images. Nonetheless the collection is rare and of considerable interest.
Complementing the work nicely are ninety excellent and beautiful color profiles of Japanese aircraft and their opponents. These are supplemented by numerous artistic impressions of scenes of aerial combat made with considerable skill using computer graphics. Among the various appendices stands out a complete unit roster of all pilots, accompanied by numerous tables providing operational statistics, and a series of clearly-illustrated maps. Finally, this work is completed with a useful contents index.
Eagles of the Southern Sky is a work of great importance, which is gaining widespread acceptance among English readers, but it will also surely be taken up by Italian fans, who are becoming more attracted to Japanese aviation history, as shown by their high attendance to such dedicated websites.