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Under the Southern Cross

The South Pacific Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver



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02 July 2021
From August 7, 1942 until February 24, 1944, the US Navy fought the most difficult campaign in its history. Between the landing of the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal and the final withdrawal of the Imperial Japanese Navy from its main South Pacific base at Rabaul, the US Navy suffered such high personnel losses that for years it refused to publicly release total casualty figures.

The Solomons campaign saw the US Navy at its lowest point, forced to make use of those ships that had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other units of the pre-war navy that had been hastily transferred to the Pacific. 140 days after the American victory at Midway, USS Enterprise was the only pre-war carrier left in the South Pacific and the US Navy would have been overwhelmed in the face of Japanese naval power had there been a third major fleet action. At the same time, another under-resourced campaign had broken out on the island of New Guinea. The Japanese attempt to reinforce their position there had led to the Battle of the Coral Sea in May and through to the end of the year, American and Australian armed forces were only just able to prevent a Japanese conquest of New Guinea.

The end of 1942 saw the Japanese stopped in both the Solomons and New Guinea, but it would take another 18 hard-fought months before Japan was forced to retreat from the South Pacific. Under the Southern Cross draws on extensive first-hand accounts and new analysis to examine the Solomons and New Guinea campaigns which laid the groundwork for Allied victory in the Pacific War.
By:   Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Imprint:   Osprey
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   778g
ISBN:   9781472838223
ISBN 10:   147283822X
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   02 July 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
List of Maps List of Illustrations Foreword by CDR Curtis R. Dose , USNR (Ret) Introduction 1: Operation Watchtower 2: Battle of the Eastern Solomons 3: The Cactus Air Force 4: Green Hell 5: Marine Aviation's Finest Hour 6: All In 7: The End of the Beginning 8: Whistling Death 9: Pappy Gunn and the Sunsetters 10: Pearl Harbor Avenged 11: Jay Zeamer's Eager Beavers 12: Reinforcement 13: The Surprise was Absolute 14: Bloody Tuesday 15: The Jolly Rogers 16: Sixty-One Days 17: Finale in the South Pacific Bibliography Index

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver has been a published writer for the past 40 years. He was a regular contributor to Flight Journal magazine. He has had a lifelong interest in the Korean War and this work is the product of 25 years of research. He is the author of Aces of the 78th Fighter Group and F4F and F6F Aces of VF-2, as well as Fabled Fifteen: The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15 and The Bridgebusters: The True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Group. During his 30 years as a screenwriter in Hollywood, he wrote the cult classic The Terror Within and worked as a supervising producer on a number of TV and cable series. He served in the US Navy in Vietnam.

Reviews for Under the Southern Cross: The South Pacific Air Campaign Against Rabaul

Cleaver skillfully weaves individual narratives from both Allied and Japanese combatants into the overall story ... the reader will come away having a greater understanding of the Pacific Theater as a whole, as well as a renewed appreciation for the courage and skill of both Allied and Japanese combatants in that grueling campaign. -- Lynn Ritger, A Aviation Historian Thomas Cleaver, whose 'war stories' we have come to cherish, has a new one ... a riveting and powerful saga, one rendered vividly, trenchantly, and with empathy - for both sides in the conflict. -- Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Former Chief of Staff to General Colin Powell Under the Southern Cross offers a micro-macro history of the South Pacific campaign of 1942-44, shifting from cockpit and flag bridge perspectives to broad strategy. The Guadalcanal campaign especially remains of interest because so much was at stake and the opponents were so evenly matched for a sanguinary six months. Tom Cleaver does right by the subject in this book. -- Barrett Tillman, Author of 'On Wave and Wing: The 100-Year Quest to Perfect the Aircraft Carrier'

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