Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to join our community
Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site, connect with other members through your own private inbox and will receive smaller adverts!

Book Review Operation Ro-Go 1943, Japanese air power tackles the Bougainville landings

ARRSE Rating
5.00 star(s)
I asked to review this book as I had spent some time on Bougainville in 1997 as part of the ANZAC Truce Monitoring Force and recall the island being littered with aircraft wrecks and other detritus of WW2. Another of Osprey's excellent Air Campaign series, Operation Ro-Go is a detailed account of the failure of Imperial Japan's attempt to take the offensive in the Solomons theater of the Pacific War, but which in turn became Japan's first line of defense against the Allies' Rabaul raids and Bougainville landings. If anything the tagline should be 'Japanese air power fails to tackle the Bougainville landings'!

By 1943, Japan was on the defensive in the Pacific. By the end of that year, after punishing aerial combat in the skies above Rabaul and the Solomons, a further 173 Japanese aircraft were deployed to Rabaul to participate in Ro-Go Sakusen (known as Operation Ro, Ro-Go, or B) to hit at Allied air and sea power in the Solomons and to disrupt US supply chains, thus slowing their advance. Disastrously though, the operation became embroiled in defensive combat and counterattacks, first to defend Rabaul from Allied air attack, and then to try to disrupt the Allied landings on Bougainville. As an example of a plan that failed to survive contact with the enemy, Operation Ro-Go is as good an example as you can find and while the operation's failure did not end the Japanese' attempts to stop the Allied advance in the Solomons, it was the beginning of the end for Rabaul as a strategic naval and air base for the Japanese.


As is usual with Osprey, the book is packed with excellent photographs, maps and colour illustrations and is set out in the familiar logical fashion. The text includes a number of excellent air and sea combat vignettes that further reinforced my respect for any aircrew who flew in combat in the early days of carrier-borne air power or who carried out most of their combat over water. As is usual with the Japanese it also underlines the fanatical nature of their temperament and the code of Bushido - witness the 7 man crew of a Betty bomber ditched and attempting to paddle to safety that when approached by a US destroyer who shot themselves one by one with a machine gun from their aircraft in order to avoid the dishonour of surrender.

Overall another excellent addition to the Osprey canon, the first account in English and great value for money if you need to understand more about the air war in the Pacific. 5/5 mushroom heads.