The Cactus Air Force: Air War over Guadalcanal (Hardcover)

The Cactus Air Force: Air War over Guadalcanal By Eric Hammel, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, Richard P. Hallion (Foreword by) Cover Image

The Cactus Air Force: Air War over Guadalcanal (Hardcover)


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Using diary entries, interviews and first-hand accounts, this vivid narrative brings to life the struggle in the air over the island of Guadalcanal between August 20 and November 15, 1942.

The battle of Guadalcanal was the first offensive operation undertaken by the US and its allies in the Pacific War. The three months of air battles between August 20, 1942, when the first Marine air unit arrived on the island, and November 15, when the last enemy attempt to retake the island was defeated, were perhaps the most important of the Pacific War. “Cactus,” the code name for the island, became a sinkhole for Japanese air and naval power, as they experienced losses that could never be made good.

For 40 years, the late Eric Hammel interviewed more than 150 American participants in the air campaign at Guadalcanal, none of whom are still alive. These interviews are the most comprehensive first-person accounts of the battle assembled by any historian. More importantly, they involved the junior officers and enlisted men whose stories and memories were not part of the official history, and thus provide a unique insight.

In The Cactus Air Force, Pacific War expert Thomas McKelvey Cleaver worked closely with Eric to build on his collection of diary entries, interviews and first-hand accounts to create a vivid narrative of the struggle in the air over the island of Guadalcanal between August 20 and November 15, 1942.

The late Eric Hammel was one of America's leading military historians with more than 40 well-received books published over a 50-year career. His previous books on the Solomons campaign, Carrier Clash, Carrier Strike, Decision at Sea, and Starvation Island, are among the leading authoritative sources on the subject due to their extensive use of first-person testimony.

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver has been a published writer for the past 40 years, with his most recent work being the best-selling Osprey titles MiG Alley (2019), I Will Run Wild (2020), Under the Southern Cross (2021), The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club (2021), Going Downtown (2022), The Cactus Air Force (2022) alongside the late Eric Hammel, and most recently Clean Sweep (2023). Tom served in the US Navy in Vietnam and currently lives in Encino, California.

Richard P. Hallion holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland, and has completed specialized governmental and national security programs at the Federal Executive Institute, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been a Curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum; a Historian with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Air Force; the Harold Keith Johnson Chair of Military History at the Army War College; the Charles Lindbergh Professor at the National Air and Space Museum; a Senior Issues and Policy Analyst for the Secretary of the Air Force; the Air Force Historian; a Senior Advisor for Air and Space Issues for the Air Force's Directorate for Security, Counterintelligence, and Special Programs; a Special Advisor for Aerospace Technology for the Air Force Chief Scientist; a Senior Advisor to the Science and Technology Policy Institute of the Institute for Defense Analyses; a Research Associate in Aeronautics for the National Air and Space Museum; and a Trustee of Florida Polytechnic University.

He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Royal Historical Society, and an Honorary Member of the Order of Daedalians who has flown as a mission observer in a wide range of military aircraft. He lives in Florida.

Product Details ISBN: 9781472851079
ISBN-10: 1472851072
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publication Date: September 6th, 2022
Pages: 336
Language: English

“Hammel and Cleaver have once more brought Guadalcanal front and center. Theirs is a harrowing tale of unpreparedness, intelligence and leadership failures, of learning hard lessons in the furious crucible of war, of sacrifice and loss, of great courage, and, ultimately, of a great victory secured at a fearsome cost.” —Richard P. Hallion, former Historian of the US Air Force

“Overstating Eric Hammel's impact as a military historian is impossible. His focus on aviation-and Guadalcanal in particular-has seen few equals. Today, we benefit not only because Hammel had the foresight to capture the first-person accounts of thousands of veterans, but also because he possessed the knowledge to place them in the proper context.” —Jay A. Stout, author of 'Jayhawk: Love, Loss, Liberation and Terror Over the Pacific'

“Eric Hammel's research, done when no one else was interested in learning these stories, has allowed a story we all think we know well to be told anew, through the words of those whose stories were never told before. The Cactus Air Force is a vital contribution that provides new information about this crucial battle.” —Barrett Tillman, author of 'Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942–1945'

“Eric Hammel was outstanding among us in finding participants and conducting interviews. His best work glowed that way, notably in his Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima publications.” —Richard B. Frank, author of 'Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle'

“This superbly written description of the conflict in the Pacific chronicles these battles with reference to official records and, more importantly, personal accounts of the US participants taken from interviews and diaries. These graphic and moving accounts create a vivid narrative for the reader.” —Flypast