Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No 55:

P-40 Warhawk Aces of the Pacific

by Carl Molesworth

Review by Steve Jantscher


This is number fifty five in the growing series of "Aces" books from Osprey publishing. I have collected most of the first thirty, but dropped off when the aircraft subject became more esoteric, and the era moved into World War One. Now, as the series has grown, and been added to with the "Combat Aircraft" and "Osprey Aviation Elite" series, the original Aces series has started to pick up some of the aircraft and areas that were passed over in the initial rush of publication. This title covers in a very susinct 98 pages a smattering of the Pacific deployment and activities of those P-40 equipped men and units during the first dark days of WW II, and the later use of the more advanced versions of the P-40 in the north of Alaska to the southern theater of New Guinea.

The author has written two previous books about the P-40 in the Osprey Aces series. From his introduction, he states his realization that the Warhawk wasn't the best plane of the war, and that it suffered in comparison to others in two important parameters, rate of climb and combat ceiling. But he also goes on to state that regardless of it's shortcomings, the P-40 is what the Americans had at the start of the war, and that was what the war in the air was going to be fought with in the immediate post Pearl Harbor combat actions. Indeed, the aircraft and the men who fought her would continue to contribute significantly to the war effort almost throughout the rest of the war.

This book follows the successful formula of previous Aces series books, numerous photographs, forty well annotated full color side profiles of important P-40s, and many black and white photographs. But, this really isn't a modelers reference as much as it is a nice short history of the aircraft in its combat deployment in the Pacific as told through the individual stories of the men who flew and maintained the aircraft. No short volume such as this can claim to be comprehensive. The strength of this book lies in the best examples of how the aircraft was used and fought by all (not just the aces) of her pilots. I especially like reading about that "forgotten" front of the Aleutian islands, and to a lesser extent, the New Guinea campaign. Too often the Pacific war is told from the point of view of the US Navy, and the Marine Corps, Guadalcanal, and the island hopping and carrier battles of the central Pacific.

These Osprey books are a good value for the money, and this example is no different.

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