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

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 (Paperback)


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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.

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.
Product Details ISBN: 9781472851086
ISBN-10: 1472851080
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
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