The long road to Tokyo: Japanese aggression in China, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, with special attention to books about the Rape of Nanking, Japanese fighter planes and pilots, the Burma campaign, and the Hiroshima bomb

Flying Tigers
revised and updated


JAPAN AT WAR, 1931-1945

Peter Wetzler's Imperial Japan and Defeat in the Second World War: The Collapse of an Empire is a tough read and an awfully expensive one, but if you can persuade your library to buy a copy, you will find it one of the better studies of how Japan reaped the whirlwind in its half-century to rule Asia. It consists of five lengthy chapters, each of which tackles a contentious subject, starting with one that has obsessed historians since 1945: How much responsibility did Hirohito himself bear for the disaster? Quite a lot, Mr Wexler finds. He's especially hard on Herbert Bix's exculpatory Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. Then there was Prime Minister Tojo, executed as a war crminal. Mr Wexler makes the case that Tojo wasn't a dictator on the line of Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin, but a man wholly committed to the myth that Japan through its emperor was divinely ordained to dominate Asia and perhaps the world, and who eagerly accepted blame for starting the war so that Hirohito would be spared. But like the emperor, and like most of his colleagues in the Imperial Army and Navy, he shared the guilt for launching a war against a nation superior in every respect except the willingness of its citizens to throw their lives away in a hopeless cause.

I was especially interested in his chapter on the Kamikaze "human bullets," who supposedly volunteered to do just that. Mr Wetzler shows that many of them were forced to sacrifice themselves, and that they didn't accomplish much. Worst of all, he argues, the kamikaze and the "breaking crystal" suicide attacks on land convinced the United States that invading and occupying the home islands would cost the lives of 500,000 American soldiers and sailors, more than doubling the US death toll in the war to date. That calculation alone made Hiroshima and Nagasaki inevitable. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Japan's long war:

Nomonhan (Japan v. Russia, 1939)
Russian aircraft losses at Nomonhan
Elusive target: Bombing Japan from China (Richard Dunn)
Did U.S. leaders know that war was coming?
A guest of the Japanese in the Dutch Indies (Arie Biemond)
"New Guinea was my introduction to war" (anonymous)
Ketsu-go (waiting for the Americans, summer 1945)
Olympic vs. Ketsu-go (the invasion that didn't happen)
Japan's Longest Day: how Japan surrendered
The U.S. Navy arrives in Tokyo Bay, August 1945
Did Japanese soldiers fight for the Vietminh?

The Hiroshima files:

Why Truman dropped the bomb (Richard Frank)
Little Boy vs Operation Olympic (an internet debate)
How many died at Hiroshima?--counting the uncountable
What was the yield of the Hiroshima bomb?
Was there a third bomb? What was its target?
Been down that lonely road: NASM confronts Enola Gay
Hiroshima and the end of the war--a reading list

Rising Sun Over Burma

The Japanese Army Air Force files:

Notes on the Japanese Army Air Force
The decision to move south (Japan v. the West, 1941)
Mr. Suzuki recalls the Flying Tigers (December 1941)
Lucky Sevens? life and death of the 77th Sentai (Richard Dunn)
JAAF deployments against Rangoon, December-March (maps)
Japanese army aircraft met by the AVG
Joe Baugher's Hayabusa files
Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa ("Oscar") armament (Richard Dunn)
About those Nakajima Ki-43 machineguns
Japanese army aces and their victory claims
JAAF fighter pilots lost in China-Burma area, 1941-42
Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer, aka Nick)

Why's a Zero?

Why's a Zero? and a primer on the Japanese calendar
Japanese warplane names and designations (Osamu Tagaya)
Allied code-names in perspective (Richard Dunn)
Sussing out the 'Chengdu Zero'
Zeros over China, 1941-1942 (Ben Schapiro)
Unraveling the Zero's performance data (Richard Dunn)
'Never dog fight the Zero' (the San Diego evaluations)
A conversation with Saburo Sakai and a scrap of his scarf
'Winged Samurai': rethinking the Sakai myths
An interview with another Zero pilot

Kamikaze, cannibals, & other mysteries:

Bushido: the Japanese Field Service Code, 1941
'Be as one already dead' (Ruth Benedict)
The soldier who cut up living prisoners (London Times)
The butchered bodies of New Guinea (graphic photos)
The Rape of Nanking: Japan in denial
Meet Colonel Tsuji, genius and cannibal
Outram Road Prison, Singapore
Done to death: the unlucky prisoners of Rabaul
The man who didn't shoot down Pappy Boyington
The Kamikaze files: Why did they volunteer? (Yasuho Izawa)
The Kamikaze files: An army pilot trains to die
The Kamikaze files: 'Crashing bodily into a target is not easy'
The Kamikaze files: 'I will be waiting for you at Yasukuni Shrine'
The Kamikaze files: The horror of the human bomb-delivery system
The Kamikaze files: Cherry blossoms and nationalisms
'Annihilate them all' (the order to murder PWs)

Books & stuff:

The webmaster's picks: 10 books worth reading
Books about Japanese aircraft and aces
Downfall: End of the Japanese Empire (Frank)
Hiroshima's Shadow: Denial and the Smithsonian (Bird etc)
Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 (Hastings)
Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII (John Dower)
Magnificent Fight: The Battle for Wake Island (Robert Cressman)
Building the B-29 (Jacob Vander Meulen)
Blankets of Fire: U.S. Bombers over Japan (Kenneth Werrell)
Breaking the Emperor's Codes (Michael Smith)
Flyboys: a flawed account of an atrocity (James Bradley)

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Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty

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Posted February 2021. Websites ©1997-2021 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.