Kagero Aircraft Books # 31

421 NFS 1943-1947

by Andre R. Zbiegniewski

reviewed by Kevin Batterman

 

This book covers the history of the 421 Night Fighter Squadron from its inception in 1943 to its deactivation in 1946. The book follows the same format at the previous books with the 80 pages of text in both Polish and English. It is well illustrated and features some excellent color plates of the P-61, P-38M and P-70. Instead of the decals that accompany many of the books, a bookmark with a color chip for U.S. Olive Drab is included.

I found the book to be interesting, as only a few books have been published on the USAAF night fighter operations and their units in WWII. The book starts out giving a background on the development of the P-61 and the P-70. Most of the book is on the operational history of the unit. It discusses the hardships that the unit faced particularly with getting equipped and supply. Also, the reader gets a sense that the bases were not always on tropical paradises. Not only did the unit have to deal with the Japanese, but malaria, nasty critters and the weather as well. The 421st used P-70s, P-38s, P-61s and B-25s all in the nocturnal role. Also, the unit had many periods where they encountered very little Japanese air activity. During the Philippines, the squadron saw a lot of action and one learns that the U.S. did not have total air superiority as the Japanese staged many night raids. The unit performed many ground support missions when there was a lack of air opposition over the beachheads during the Philippines Campaign.  It mentions that Dick Bong was temporarily assigned to the unit to help them out which was new to me.

Overall I enjoyed the book and believe it is a useful additional to the modelerís and aviation enthusiastís library. My only criticism would be the selection of photos. I found that some were not of the best quality. Also, in some cases the author could have made better choices to illustrate the points he was trying to make. I look forward to other books in the series and hope to see more on the US night fighter units in Europe and the RAF as well.


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