B-29 Superfortress Vs Ki-44 "Tojo" Pacific Theater 1944-45

Published: November 17th, 2017     
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Author: Donald Nijboer
Reviewed by: 
Hub Plott, IPMS# 31328
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: ISBN #: 978-1-4728-1886-7
Other Publication Information: 80 pages, 43 B&W photos, 12 color photos and plates
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: DUE 82

This book details combat between the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and the Nakjima Ki-44 "Tojo" in the war against Japan. The B-29s rained destruction down upon Japan daily and the Japanese were desperate to combat the large number of bombers the Americans sent at the home islands.  One of Japan's most formidable weapons was the Ki-44, Japan's most heavily armed single seat fighter.

The book is broken down into 11 sections. The introduction discusses in brief the lead up to both designs and provides a chronology from inception until the end of the war.

Next the design and development of both types are covered. The B-29 is covered first then the Ki-44.

Chapter Three has the technical specifications of each model. B-29 coverage is on everything from the XB-29 through the Silverplate models this includes the F-13 and SB-29 variants as well as the cancelled B-29C.  The same treatment is given to the Ki-44, covered from original prototype to the production models and the lone Ki-44-III.

Chapter Four discusses the strategic situation and the assessments and planning going back to 2 years prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese situation was by 1944 desperate! To counter the massive B-29 raids they needed large numbers of fighters and skilled pilots but the combat across the Pacific and China from 1942 to 1944 has assured that the JAAF and IJNAF had neither!

Chapter Five gives us a look into the gunnery and pilot training of both the USAAC and JAAF. There is also a page each devoted to biographies of a surviving B-29 gunner and a Ki-44 pilot.

Chapter Six covers combat situations between the two aircraft. The B-29 had a combat radius of around 3000 miles whereas the Ki-44 came in at about 287 miles. This combined with poor radar meant that there was not much time between warnings of approaching aircraft and the need to get to altitude. The Japanese radar could also not distinguish between an approaching B-29 formation or that of P-51s or other aircraft. All these combined to mean that it would take more than an hour to reach the incoming raid thus not reaching the B-29s until the bomb run had begun.

Chapter Seven is the statistics and analysis section. Only 148 B-29s were confirmed lost to fighters, ramming and flak in the 15 months of raids on Japan. One glaring statistic is that by comparison the 8th AF lost more bombers in one month to the Luftwaffe than total B-29 losses in 15 months of combat. The section concludes with a list of the 14 Ki-44 pilots that had victories against B-29s.

Chapter Eight covers the aftermath. After the surrender of Japan the B-29s continued to search for POW camps in China and Southeast Asia as well as supply drops to these camps. They also served in the Korean War and a bit beyond. Today two still fly as memorials to those who flew them so long ago. The Ki-44 continued its service briefly in the Nationalist Chinese AF post war. No example is known to be extant today.

The final two sections have suggestions of further reading and the index for this volume.

This is a good read. There is a lot of information in these 80 pages. Many interesting photographs, excellent color cockpit layout drawings, a beautiful two page combat painting all to please both the historian and the modeler. I recommend this book to all!

Our thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the review opportunity

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