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Book Review
F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 Frank
F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 ''Frank'' Pacific Theater 1945
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

En Garde
F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 "Frank" Pacific Theater 1945 is the 73rd title of the Osprey Publishing LTD series Duel. Duel contrasts and compares similar combatants during a particular period of the war, focusing on technical, doctrinal, and operational aspects of the combatants.

The first-hand accounts by American and Japanese pilots are fascinating and actually surprising. This book was hard to stop reading once I cracked the cover. It verified some of my perceptions yet totally blew away others. Read on!

F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 "Frank" is an 80-page softcover book written by Edward M. Young and illustrated by Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector. Supporting the erudite text is color artwork, photographs and cutaway artwork. It is available in softcover, ePub and PDF. The softcover is ISBN 9781472814609.
    The Vought Corsair was the first American single-engined fighter to exceed 400 mph and establish dominance over the legendary Mitsubishi Type Zero-sen. The Ki-84 Hayate was introduced by the Japanese specifically to counter this growing American dominance of the skies over the Pacific. Built in greater numbers than any other late war Japanese fighter, nearly 3000 were completed between 1944 and 1945. This volume examines the clashes between the Corsair and Ki-84 in the closing stages of the war, revealing how Corsair pilots had to adapt their techniques and combat strategies to adapt to these newer types. It also reveals how the kill rate was largely driven by the reduced quality of fighter pilots after the high casualty rates inflicted on the Japanese air force during the air battles over the Solomon Islands. - Osprey

The F4U Corsair is an icon of military aviation. It stayed in production into the jet age and shot down opponents into the 1970s. An advanced and adaptive design, Corsairs broke the superiority of the Mitsubishi Zero over the Solomons. Not a docile aircraft, the "Ensign Eliminator" had qualities in 1942 that banished it from USN carriers and sent it to Navy and Marine land-based squadrons. From combat deployment in early 1943 (excepting the first mission) through early 1944 F4Us decimated Japanese fighter kokutai from Guadalcanal to the very Japanese fortress of Rabual itself. And there with the last Zero shootdown the Corsair's air-to-air role ended for a year, the year that saw the main Navy air war intensify and shift over the central Pacific upon the capable wings of the legendary F6F Hellcat. Corsairs missed the epic air battles of the summer of 1944 while USN fixed the dangerous traits that kept it off of American carriers. (During that period the Royal Navy demonstrated that Corsairs could be successfully operated off carriers.) USN tamed carrier-based F4Us came roaring back with a vengeance in 1945, again cutting swaths through Japanese airpower, even though newer Japanese fighters had performance rivaling the Corsair. One of those new Japanese fighters was the Ki-84 Hayate, or "Frank".

"Frank" is the Allied code name for the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Gale or Hurricane). Hayate is widely considered the best all-round fighter Japan fielded, Army or Navy. In post-war Allied evaluations Ki-84 demonstrated performance comparable to the main Allied fighters of 1944 (superior against some). However, like all of Imperial Japan's late-war fighters, it was hobbled by poorly trained pilots unable to exploit its abilities, and abilities unexploited due to shoddy materials and workmanship.

As this book will show, when a Frank was running as-advertised and in the hands of a decent pilot, Allied pilots had the fight of their lives.

F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 'Frank' Pacific Theater 1945 is brought to us through 10 chapters in 80 pages;
    Design and Development
    Technical Specifications
    The Strategic Situation
    The Combatants
    Statistics and Analysis
    Further Reading

The text is very detailed yet easy to read. It features several first-hand narratives from pilots who were "at the aerial sharp end" of Corsairs against the Gale. The book explains why so many American pilots misidentified 'Frank' as other more familiar Japanese fighters. Those interested in Japanese nomenclature will appreciate the use of it.

Each Duel book includes profiles on two of the subject aircraft pilots. In this book it is USMC Capt William Snider and IJAAF WO Katsuaki Kira, both of whom survived the war.

Ultimately, the book examines the successes and failures of the F4U vs Ki-84 encounters. These are very interesting because we now know more about the Japanese's experiences.

Design and Development and Technical Specifications are 24 pages of interesting facts and figures about creating the subjects fighters. If you like trivia such as Japanese names and nomenclature, this book will please you. Some technical descriptions of the Ki-84 are surprising, the NK9 Homare engine eventually reaching 2,500hp! The NK9 was an amazing engine, being only an inch greater in diameter than its predecessor yet with almost double the power. It was the key to Ki-84 performance.

The Strategic Situation is valuable for readers not familiar with the war. The Combatants examines pilot selection and training for the two sides, comparing thoroughness and flight hours.

Combat reveals the actual clashes between the Corsair and Hayate. They did not meet until early 1945 even though 'Frank' had been in combat over the CBI and Philippines since 1944. By this time Japanese HQ had created air defense units over Japan proper, and these had different roles. Some were tasked with supporting the kamikaze offensive against the Okinawa campaign; despite the ability of Ki-84, many were expended in Special Attack missions. With that in mind as well as the overall decline of IJAAF pilot ability, the author notes that this book does not present a classic "duel". That said, there are some accounts of yank-n-bank dogfights.
    "The Tojo [sic]Lt Alley destroyed was very aggressive, and very fast. The pilot displayed excellent airmanship - the Tojo proved to be an equal match for the Corsair in both dives and turns."

The author notes that 'Tojo' was most certainly a 'Frank'. Another battle features accounts from after action reports about the speed of the F4U against the Frank. From the same encounter;
    ...the Frank was "more maneuverable than the F4U-1C" and "could easily turn inside it."

Statistics and Analysis and Aftermath sum up the previous chapters.

The text is both illuminating of new information and validating of many long held stories.

Photos and graphics
Osprey supports the text with an impressive gallery of photographs. While most are photos that have filled book pages for decades, there are several that are new to me. All except on are black-and-white.

Artists Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector enhance the book with excellent illustrations:

1. F4U and Ki-84 production 1942-45 chart.

2. F4U-1C Corsair 3-view.

3. Ki-84-I Hayate 3-view.

4. F4U-1D Corsair Machine Guns cutaway.

5. Ki-84 Hayate Cowling/Wing Guns cutaway.

6. : southern Kyushu to Formosa and eastern China, centered on Okinawa.

7. Decrease in JAAF Pilot Flying Experience: Average No. of Flying Hours chart.

8. Diagram of Corsair CAP.

9. Diagram of Ki-84 escort formation.

10. Two-page in-action centerfold of a "Frank shoot-down.

11. Ki-44 and Ki-84 size comparison overlay.

12. F4U-1D cockpit keyed to 52 items.

13. Ki-84 cockpit keyed to 66 items.

14. Engaging the Enemy: dogfight as seen by a JAAF pilot from a Hayate cockpit.

15. Corsair Pilots' "Frank" Victory Claims by pilot, unit, claims, and date.

My only concern is the use of colors for "Frank" illustrations that contradicts research I am familiar with. Otherwise, this combination of graphics and photographs are an excellent visual support for the text.

Aside from the aforementioned concern, F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 "Frank" Pacific Theater 1945 should be well received by historians, enthusiasts and modelers. It features excellent visual and textual content. I appreciate the many first-person narratives.

This book was hard to stop reading once I cracked the cover. It verified some of my perceptions yet totally blew away others. I recommend it.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: Excellent visual and textual content. First-person narratives.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: This book should be well received by historians, enthusiasts and modelers. It was hard to stop reading once I cracked the cover.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472814609
  Suggested Retail: $20, 12.99 GBP, $24 CAN
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 30, 2016

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


this book is good tale the story of naval aviation in both side of the war. in the pacific.
MAY 31, 2016 - 04:06 AM
Hello Ulises; thank you for your comment. Yes, a great book. One thing, Ki-84 was Japanese Army A.F. I look forward to Osprey publishing a DUEL about a late-war Japanese Navy fighter vs a USN fighter. They already have 2 for early/mid: F4F v Zero, and F6F v Zero.
MAY 31, 2016 - 08:48 AM
Great review, Fred. The Japanese built some impressive aircraft with limited resources. Is there one out with the N1K2 vs. Corsair or Hellcat?
JUN 01, 2016 - 04:00 AM

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