JAPAN: AIR POWER, 1919-1945

Selected References at Air University Library

November 2001

Compiled by Bibliography Branch
Air University Library
Maxwell AFB, AL


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All sites listed were last accessed on March 13, 2003.

Internet Resources

Dept. of the Army. Office of the Chief of Military History. The Japanese Monographs.
Series of five monographs dealing with Japan's political and military strategy from the time of the Manchurian Incident to the outbreak of the Pacific War. Under the supervision of the Demobilization Bureau, the basic material contained in these monographs was compiled and written in Japanese by former officers, on duty in command and staff units within major units during the period of operations. Translation was effected through the facilities of Military Intelligence Service Group, G2, Headquarters, Far East Command.

Grolier Inc. World War II Main Article.
See especially: Between the Wars, Developments in Air Warfare.

Lange, Steve. The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force in the Pacific War.
Twelve-page article examines the origins of the IJNAF, events of the 1930s, including Japan's war with China, WWII operations, and post-war consequences and myths.

Pelvin, Richard. Japanese Air Power, 1919-1945: A Case Study in Military Dysfunction.1995. 25 pages.
Research paper from the Royal Australian Air Force's Air Power Studies Centre.  AUL also has a print copy in the Documents vault; call number is M-U 36760-103.

Sist, Arno J. Setting Sun: A Critical Analysis of Japan's Employment of Naval Airpower in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Maxwell AFB, AL, Air Command and Staff College, 1998. 40 pages.
The Battle of the Coral Sea, the first naval engagement fought exclusively between naval air forces, was a pivotal battle of the war in the Pacific. Although considered a Japanese tactical victory, it was the beginning of the end of Japan's war effort. This analysis examines this decisive battle from the Japanese perspective

WWII Imperial Japanese Naval Aviation Page.
Contains information about almost all Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft used in WWII.


Bateson, Charles. The War With Japan: A Concise History. [East Lansing], Michigan State University Press, 1968. 417 p.
Chapter Two: The Japanese Forces and Plans, pp 36-47. Offers some background on the strengths and weaknesses of Japan's armed services in the years before World War II. See especially the brief discussion of the Air Forces on pp 40-41.
Book call no.: 940.542 B329w

Calculations: Net Assessment and the Coming of World War II., edited by Williamson Murray and Alan R. Millett. New York, Free Press, 1992. 354 p.
Japanese Net Assessment in the Era Before Pearl Harbor, by Alvin D. Coox, pp 258-298.
Book call no.: 355.0330043 C144

Collier, Basil. Japanese Aircraft of World War II. New York, Mayflower Books, 1979. 144 p.
Chapter 1: Japanese Air Power.
Chapter 3: The Course of the Air War.
Book call no.: 940.544952 C699j

The Conduct of the Air War in the Second World War., edited by Horst Boog. New York, Berg, 1992. 763 p.
The Japanese Air Forces, by Gerhard Krebs, pp 228-234.
Book call no.: 940.544 I61c

Dunnigan, James F. and Nofi Albert A. The Pacific War Encyclopedia. New York, NY, Facts on File, Inc., 1998. 2 vols.
Volume 1: Air Force, Japanese, Growth, pp 10-12; Japan, Attitude toward Warfare, pp 300-306.
Volume 2: Pilots, Quality and Quantity (compares US and Japan), pp 504-508.
Book call no.: REFERENCE 940.54 D924p vols 1-2.

Gailey, Harry A. The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay. Novato, CA, Presidio Press, 1995. 534 p.
Chapter 3: Japanese Military Preparations, pp 53-70. See especially pages 61-64 for discussion of how Japan's victories over Chinese armies negatively affected its air war planning.
Book call no.: 940.5426 G138w

The Japanese Air Forces in World War II: The Organization of the Japanese Army and Naval Air Forces, 1945. New York, Hippocrene Books, 1979. 170 p.
Book call no.: 358.40952 J35

Levine, Alan J. The Pacific War: Japan Versus the Allies. Westport, CT, Praeger, 1995. 200 p.
Chapter 1: The Road to War, pp 1-28. Examines Japan's pre-WW2 background, including modernization, relations with China and the Sino-Japanese War, and the buildup of its armed forces.
Book call no.: 940.5426 L665p

Mikesh, Robert C. Broken Wings of the Samurai: The Destruction of the Japanese Airforce. Shrewsbury, England, Airlife Publishing, 1993. 199 p.
Chapter 1: The War Years: From Strength to Defeat, pages 9-30.
Book call no.: 940.544952 M636ba

Military Effectiveness. Volume II: The Interwar Period., edited by Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray. Boston, Allen & Unwin, 1988. 281 p.
Japanese Military Effectiveness: The Interwar Period, by Carl Boyd, pages 131-168.
Book call no.: 355.00904 M644 v.2

Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, edited by Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1996. 428 p.Adopting the Aircraft Carrier: The British, American, and Japanese Case Studies, by Geoffrey Till, pp 191-226. "...by the outbreak of World War II, the three navies differed only in the degree of their underestimation of the strategic significance of maritime air power. The British were the least perceptive, the Japanese, the most."
Patterns of Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, by Allan R. Millett, pp 329-368. See espcially pages 352-355 and 362-364 for discussion of aviation.
Book call no.: 355.0209041 M644

Overy, Richard and Wheatcroft Andrew. The Road to War. London, Macmillan, 1989. 364 p.
"Each of the nations eventually involved [in WWII] had complex motives for their policy in the years between the wars...The aim of this book is to retell the story of the twenty years between the wars without benefit of hindsight." Chapter 6 discusses Japan, pp 223-257.
Book call no.: 940.5311 O92r

Peterson, Edward N. An Analytical History of World War II, Volume 1. New York, Peter Lang, 1995. 470 p.
A year-by-year examination of the nations involved in World War II, including the military power of each, from 1931-1945.
Book call no.: 940.54 P485a v. 1

United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific., Department of the Army. Office of the Chief of Military History. Washington, DC, 11 volumes.
Volume 10: Strategy and Command, by Louis Morton. See Chapter II: Japanese Policy and Strategy, 1931-July 1941, pp 45-66. Other volumes in this series describe the Pacific campaigns in detail.
Book call no.: REFERENCE 940.54 U58uwp vols 1-11


Australia. Royal Australian Air Force. Air Power Studies Centre. Japanese Air Power 1919-1945: A Case Study in Military Dysfunction., by Richard Pelvin. Fairbairn, Australia, April 1995. 25 p.
Doc. call no.: M-U 36760-103

Holaday, Burton H. The Japanese Surprise Attack on Clark Field: Its Implications for Current Readiness. Maxwell AFB, AL, Air War College, May 1978. 71 p.
Doc. call no.: M-U 43117 H722j

Sist, Arno J. Setting Sun: A Critical Analysis of Japan's Employment of Naval Airpower in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Maxwell AFB, AL, Air Command and Staff College, 1998. 40 p.
Available online at:
Doc. call no.: M-U 43122 S6233s


Coox, Alvin D. The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Air Forces. Aerospace Historian 27:74-86 Summer/June 1980.

Ferris, John. A British "Unofficial" Aviation Mission and Japanese Naval Developments, 1919-1929. Journal of Strategic Studies 5:416-439 September 1982.
"In 1919 the Royal Navy led the world in naval aviation. It no longer did by 1939. This was partly due to British aid provided at a crucial moment in the development of the Imperial Japanese Navy's air service. Britain assisted Japan to create an air force able to affect the exercise of maritime power. British decision-makers obviously did not realise quite what they were creating."

Ginsbourg, Mark J. and Mazet H. S. The Japanese Can't Fly! You May Revise Your Opinion of Nipponese Airmen after Reading this Eye-Witness Story of Aerial Operations in China. U. S. Air Services 25:12-14+ February 1940.
1940 article warns against underestimating Japan's air forces.

Harvey, A. D. Army Air Force and Navy Air Force: Japanese Aviation and the Opening Phase of the War in the Far East. War in History 6:174-204 April 1999.
Looks at Japan's Army Air Force and Navy Air Force during World War II. Includes: distinction between the two in terms of aircraft and equipment; lessons learned by the Japanese; successes of the Japanese air forces; the Allies' underestimation of Japanese aircraft quality.

Hone, Thomas C. and Mandeles Mark D. Interwar Innovation in Three Navies: U. S. Navy, Royal Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy. Naval War College Review 40:63-83 Spring 1987.
Examines the way three navies responded to the challenges and opportunities of a major new technology, airpower. See pages 68-71, "The Imperial Japanese Navy: Fits and Starts."

Japan's Air Forces. Flying 37:30-32+ September 1945.
Condensation of an official report on the Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces prepared by the Office of War Information during WW II. Reports that the air forces "appear to have lost the capacity for large-scale, sustained offensive action, or even effectively sustained defensive action."

Kiralfy, Alexander. Watch Japanese Air Power. Foreign Affairs 23:66-78 October 1944.
Analyzes Japan's air strategy from its beginnings to World War II.

LaCerda, John. Why the Jap Air Force Failed. Flying 39:44-45+ August 1946.
Maintains that rivalry within her air forces speeded the collapse of Japan's World War II effort.

Speyer, E. Japanese Air Power. Aviation 41:94-97+ September 1942.
Focuses on Japan's wartime air strength and production ability, with some historical background.

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