Michael John Claringbould, Operation Ro-Go 1943 (Osprey, 2023)
The Japanese air offensive, Operation Ro-Go, commenced on 1 November 1943, leading to a concentrated period of action that lasted two weeks. The transfer of planes from Truk to Rabaul kicked off the campaign, with the pilots being told that their primary mission was to destroy enemy ships. But events took over as the Allies attacked Bougainville, and the Japanese switched from offense to defence. In this Osprey Air Campaign series volume, Michael John Claringbould tells that story.
Claringbould begins with a broad overview of the operation and a timeline of events. He notes the importance of weather and naval actions to the Ro-Go operation while acknowledging the growing disparity between the Japanese and rapidly expanding US air forces. Claringbould surveys the capabilities of each side, not just the planes and weapons, but the crews, logistical support, airfields, and radar systems. He turns to objectives and the conduct of the campaign, delving into the interplay of air, sea, and land forces to create a flowing narrative of operations. A telling photograph of a crashed Japanese Betty bomber introduces Claringbould’s description of the campaign’s aftermath and his analysis.
Operation Ro-Go will barely register with many readers of the Pacific War, and given the results, it might easily return to the background hum of that conflict. However, the variety of action stands out along with the intensity and dedication of both sides in this relatively small slice of a titanic struggle. Claringbould expertly illustrates a stage of the war that was turning against the Japanese, and there was seemingly little they could do about it. Osprey’s usual excellent artwork, maps, and photographs accompanies an engaging text that readers of WWII military history will enjoy.