Synopses & Reviews
This is the previously untold story of one of the most ferocious and prolonged air/naval battles ever: the battle at the radar picket stations during the American assault on Okinawa in the spring of 1945. It weaves together the experiences of the ships and their crews, in a way that no one has attempted before. The US fleet and its accompanying airpower that took station off Okinawa was of gigantic proportions, such that the Japanese could only rely on suicide attacks to inflict critical damage. While losses in the main fleet, including damage to ships such as the Enterprise and Intrepid, have been well covered, less well known is the terrific battle waged on the radar picket line, the fleet's outer defense against Japanese marauders. Of the 206 ships that served on radar picket duty, 29 percent were sunk or damaged by Japanese air attacks, making theirs the most hazardous naval surface duty in World War II. The great losses were largely due to the relentless nature of the kamikaze attacks, but also the improper use of support gunboats, failure to establish land-based radar at the earliest possible time, the assignment of ships ill-equipped for picket duty, and, as time went on, crew fatigue. The nature of the US air cover is also described in full, as squadrons dashed from their carriers and land bases to intercept the Japanese swarms, resulting in constant melees over the fleet. At times, US pilots chased enemy planes into walls of AA fire while often having to brave it themselves. Toward the end of the battle, the radar picket ships became the prime kamikaze targets as Japanese pilots despaired of getting through the big blue blanket of American fighter planes to reach larger prey. This work is based on primary sources, including ship and aircraft action reports, ship logs, and personal interviews. Robin L. Rielly has written an engrossing narrative of air/naval combat, combining firsthand action with astute tactical and strategic analysis.
To any who want to learn more about the age of the Kamikaze at Okinawa, this book is to be desired. For the serious historian who wants a blow by blow coverage of the US defense against the Japanese airpower portion of the battle for Okinawa, it is a must. And for the casual reader...you'll gain insight even if you just peruse this book. Airborne Quarterly, Winter 2009
...a masterpiece of research and dedication... classic study in how to write about a non mainstream military subject and still make it accessible to the military lay person. Play History, 11/2008
fantastically well documented story...Flypast, 11/2008
...if you want to know anything about this topic... this is the book to read. Profusely illustrated with maps, photographs and drawings, the subject is covered as completely as possible...IPMS, 12/2008
... an enlightening and captivating account of radar picket duty...a worthy resource for anyone interested in naval war tactics and battle strategies during this era of maritime history...The Northern Mariner, 03/2009
...a fascinating account replete with photos, maps and insightful analysis.Proceedings, 02/2009
...an engaging, well-documented, fast moving and previously untold history of 150 days and nights of continuous attacks on the picket boats. ..highly documented, extensive and well-written account of the picket line ordeal and the air action provided to combat the kamikazes.The Hook, Spring 2009
...crisp, engrossing narrative...puts the reader right onto the blazing decks and into the cockpits of the attackers and defenders during one of the most hard-fought engagements of the entire war. World War II History, 01/2010
...brings a scholar's attention to detail to the task...extremely useful as a reference resource...will naturally appeal to naval officers and aviators, but its insights on how to combat terror warfare has relevancy for a much broader audience.Military Review, May/ June 2010
Basing his work on primary sources, including ship and aircraft action reports, ship logs, and personal interviews, Rielly delivers an engrossing narrative of the American assault on Okinawa in spring 1945.