Mushroom Magazine Special (Yellow Series)

Mitsubishi A5M Claude

by Tadeusz Januszewski

reviewed by Mark Smith

 

This is only the third monograph on the Claude of any real note (Maru Mechanic and FAOW titles were its predecessors, both OOP now) but this is the first in English. Heretofore, any English coverage of the aircraft's combat career was of the thumbnail variety and concentrated on its China service, as when the Pacific War broke out, the Zero had in large part replaced it. As you will find if you read this book, however, Zeros were still in short supply early on and the Type 96 was still a frontline aircraft in certain places such as Rabaul and the Marshall Islands. Many of these individual combats are detailed, as they are for the earlier years against Chinese and Russian pilots. As displayed in his earlier books on things Japanese, the author obviously has developed good Japanese sources and does not rely on the same old minimalist Western reports. In addition, the English translation is smoothly done B much better than some of Mushroom's earlier titles. Kudos to all involved for the text and the new information unearthed for Westerners.

The photographic coverage is a good mix of the rather skimpy coverage available, and you will not find much you haven't seen if you own the other two titles mentioned above. They do not reveal a lot of nuts and bolts detail but are valuable for markings and general purposes. It is in the drawings and color artwork that the book excels, at least for the modeler. The A5M2, 2B, the elegant inline-engined A5M3, and the A5M4 are finely rendered in 1/72 scale B though I have to admit that I was disappointed I didn't see drawings of the earliest gull-winged prototypes. The book closes with a full 28 pages of superb color by Zygmunt Szeremeta , including several top views, which offer representative color schemes for the airplane's entire service career. The Claude has been poorly served by decal manufacturers, and let's hope this section does much to change that. With Fujimi's excellent kits in 1/72 and the Classic Airframes and Fine Molds kits still to be found in 1/48, some of the aircraft pictured here would make lovely models.

While the Maru Mechanic #28 (since reprinted in various editions) and the Famous Aircraft of the World title are essential to your Claude library, so is this book. In fact, the three complement each other grandly. If Japanese airplanes are your cup of tea, don't let this title show up listed OOP before you've snagged yours.

Rev. Mark Smith

 


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