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The Kamikaze Hunters by Will Iredale

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Dai Fledermaus02/07/2016 15:16:00
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I'm not an avid reader of books, but I picked The Kamikaze Hunters in our local Tesco, and it's an interesting read.

It tells the story of the young pilots of the British Pacific Fleet from the early days of the War through their initial training to life aboard carrier ships flying mainly the Corsair in the last summer of 1945.

It's full of interesting anecdotes about the aircraft types and the training in the UK and in the US, some amusing, some deadly:-

"Other forbidden games included `chasing tails` or `rat racing` in which pilots flew at high speed around electricity poles. Whilst such aerobatics were prohibited, throwing off an enemy fighter in a dog fight could be the difference between living and dying".

One young pilot said after being introduced to the Hawker Hurricane " We had to learn to throw it about to it's limits. Our instructor would do just that and our job was to hang on to his tail. then it was our turn to manoeuver as violently as possible in order to throw him off our tail".

"One warm May afternoon while leading another new pilot, his instructor dived low over Downside School, fifteen miles west of Yeovilton, pulling up a few hundred feet from the ground. The rookie following close behind ploughed straight into the school cricket field killing himself and nine other people, including some of Downside boys in the middle of a match. He had succumbed to the phenomenon known as the squashing effect or mushing, when the trajectory of the plane continues falling for a second or two after the pilot has pulled back his stick to level off and climb"

It really is a story of valour courage and dogged determination in a theatre of the war which I knew little about.

..08/10/2016 13:31:46
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I'm reading this at the moment Dai, and what a great read it is.

Bravo Delta08/10/2016 14:02:24
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Almost finished

Saw it for £3.85 at Tesco so couldn't resist , having recently read 'I was a Kamikaze' by R.Nagatsuka , the autobiography of a Japanese Suicide Pilot - obviously not one that completed his mission .

I am finding Kamikaze Hunters contains some interesting information and experiences , and chronicles the seldom covered aspect of British Empire involvement in the Pacific in 1945 .

If a reader is expecting to go straight into the nitty-gritty of the evocative title , then the reader would be dissapointed, as the 'action' takes place quite late into the book , but if like me you like some background and some personal experiences to hang the narrative together then its an interesting read

Bob Cotsford08/10/2016 22:37:34
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There are lots of secondhand copies on Amazon for 1p + £2.80 postage.

IanN08/10/2016 22:41:48
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Hadn't heard of this book - sounds interesting. Thanks for the heads up, Dai

Dai Fledermaus09/10/2016 12:39:45
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Nice to know you've enjoyed the book.

One of the most interesting facts to come from it for me, was the difference between US Aircraft Carriers which had wooden flight decks, resulting in major damage when hit by a Kamikaze, and the British carriers which had armoured steel flight decks.

On the morning of 4th May 1945 Formidable was hit by a Kamikaze with the pilot releasing a 500 or 1000 pound bomb just before impact. It was described as 5,000 pounds of metal and wood moving at 300 MPH just disappearing into the flight deck in a ball of flame and smoke. One rating felt the ship ` jump out of the water` with the impact. The nearest Avenger aircraft - all five tons of it was blown over the side like a leaf in the breeze.

By the end of the day, after the fires were extinguished, the hole in the flight deck two feet deep and wide was filled with quick drying cement and covered with wood and steel plate. By 1700 hrs Formidable was able to land aircraft again.

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