For most of World War II, the mention of Japan's island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen. Some called it “Fortress Rabaul,” an apt name for the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific. Author Bruce Gamble chronicles Rabaul’s crucial role in Japanese operations in the Southwest Pacific. Millions of square feet of housing and storage facilities supported a hundred thousand soldiers and naval personnel. Simpson Harbor and the airfields were the focus of hundreds of missions by American air forces.
Winner of the "Gold Medal" (Military Writers Society of America) and "Editor's Choice Award" (Stone & Stone Second World War Books), Fortress Rabaul details a critical and, until now, little understood chapter in the history of World War II.
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Japan invaded the Southwest Pacific island of New Britain on January 23, 1942. Rabaul, on the northern tip of the island, was quickly developed into a major military complex. It served as a springboard for several new offensives and became the key to Japanese operations in the region. The mere mention of the island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen.
Author Bruce Gamble chronicles the dramatic events that contributed to Rabaul’s increasing notoriety, detailing the island’s transformation into the ultimate twentieth-century fortification. Millions of square feet of new construction provided housing and storage facilities for a hundred thousand soldiers and naval personnel, and by mid-1943 Rabaul’s air strength stood at six hundred planes. Some called it “Fortress Rabaul,” an apt name for Japan’s mightiest base in the Southwest Pacific and the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s 8th and 11th Air Fleets.
In the beginning, only the Royal Australian Air Force’s 75 Squadron stood against the amassing Japanese force on New Britain, but there was an increasing presence of American squadrons in Australia joining the escalating air war over Rabaul. The virtually impregnable stronghold was the focus of attacks by American, Australian, and New Zealand air forces from January 1942 until the end of the war in August 1945, a total of forty-four months, the longest battle of World War II.
Gamble fills in the historical background behind Rabaul’s crucial role in the Pacific war, from the Japanese invasion through the shooting down of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943, a turning point in Japan’s offensive operations. A compelling story of military strategy and might, it is also a critical and, until now, little understood chapter in the history of World War II.From the Back Cover:
As O’Hare closed rapidly from the right side of the enemy formation, some of the Japanese gunners opened fire, intent on killing him first. Ignoring the tracers, O’Hare took aim at the rearmost Mitsubishi and triggered a short burst with perfect deflection. The bomber piloted by FPO 2nd Class Ryosuke Kogiku careened out of formation, its starboard engine trailing smoke. O’Hare lined up his sights on the next aircraft and got the same result. Ribbons of vaporized gasoline streamed from the perforated wing of FPO 1st Class Koji Maeda’s bomber, which also veered out of formation.
Pulling left to avoid the two stricken aircraft, O’Hare let his fighter’s momentum carry him under the formation. He crossed to the opposite side and then climbed back into firing position behind the last bomber on the left side of the formation. Aiming for the aircraft’s opposite engine, he squeezed the trigger, and again his aim was true. The bomber shuddered under the impact of the heavy bullets and quickly fell behind, its right engine damaged and the left wing tank punctured. O’Hare then fired a burst at the next bomber in line, which caught fire as he closed to nearly point-blank range. With just two brief firing runs, he had carved half of the bombers out of formation.
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