Book Review: Kamikazes, Corsairs and Picket Ships
"The subject matter of this book by Robin L Rielly is actually very simple... however this is not a simple book at all, it is a master piece of research and dedication that makes it look simple."
The subject matter of this book by Robin L Rielly is actually very simple – it is the story of the radar picket boats that gave advanced warning of Japanese air attacks (mainly of the Kamikaze type) heading for the ships of the invasion force of Okinawa in 1945.
However this is not a simple book at all, it is a master piece of research and dedication that makes it look simple. The book starts with the author explaining what he is about to tell us about, his approach and the various thank yous you normally expect at the start of a book.
The nature of the naval radar picket boat in the Pacific theatre of WW2 is then explained. The author then details the various types of boats and ships that are used (their speed, armament, capabilities etc); and what an eclectic mix it is, from destroyers to converted landing craft of various types. You start to get a sense of what the author has achieved when you realise there is a photograph showing an example of each type of ship. Tactics and tactical problems are also discussed.
we get a run down of the various aircraft involved. There is specific detail on all the main
The author then plunges you into the dangerous world of the radar picket boat giving a day by day account of the attacks on the picket boats, the involvement of the overhead CAP, the horror, the tension and more. This accounts for the vast majority of the text. There are more black and white pictures throughout the book showing the commanders, various picket boats and the aftermath of attacks
There are also 4 Appendices, one details the ships damaged or sunk on radar picket duty; the next sets out all the ships (subdivided by type and class) that served on this duty; the 3rd gives a wealth of information on Japanese aircraft types, including the aircraft recognition guide for Japanese planes. This is especially useful given the range of aircraft the Japanese used as Kamikazes so when the text refers to a Myrt or a Zeke you can look up its silhouette without having to leave your armchair. The 4th Appendix sets out the various Japanese airfields used during the campaign.
This reviewers interest in naval warfare begins and ends with the early novels of Stephen Coonts and the movie The Cruel Sea however the author of this masterful book made it very easy for a novice like me to understand and properly appreciate this fascinating and in someways unknown aspect of WW2 naval operations. I cannot recommend it too highly to students of the Pacific campaign in WW2. Also for other authors I would say this is classic study in how to write about a non mainstream military subject and still make it accessible to the military layperson. Therefore I would also recommend it to the general WW2 reader.
The book is available now from Casemate, hardback price £25:00 (ISBN 9781932033861).