Book Review: Commanding Far Eastern Skies

Commanding Far Eastern Skies: A Critical Analysis of the Royal Air Force Air Superiority Campaign in India, Burma and Malaya 1941-1945 (Wolverhampton Military Studies)
has its origins in a PhD dissertation  that was done by the Author , which itself asserts itself as the only one related to the RAF in the far east.

The author is a visiting lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and this book is published as one of the series of the Wolverhampton Military Studies.

The Book is organised into four major ‘Chapters’ , devoted to the Early Warning Organisation, the British Aircrew Tactics, the Counter Air Campaign, and the Japanese Industry.  As expected there is very little of the ‘eye-witness’ accounts that we have come to expect and more of clinical research into existing archives.

The Author covers considerable ground in referring to original archives at NA, and it is a different sort of a pleasure to read the foot notes to discover documents that one had no idea of! The first chapter covers hitherto uncovered ground in discussing the AMES (Radar) Units in the SEAC Sector.

The second and third chapters are where the tactics used by the Allied air forces as well as the counter air campaign of 1944 is discussed at length.  While other books tend to overwhelm the readers in discussing Orbats, this one simplifies the opposing numbers by referring to industrial output reports and intelligence reports.

As a result, there are some surprising revelations – like the fact there were less than 70 Japanese fighters based in Burma during  the end of 44, and virtually no air opposition by the time Rangoon fell in 1945. If the reader grasps the massive numbers put up by the Allied Air Forces in India in anticpationof the Burma Campaign, its easier to picture why aerial encounters were far and few in between.  No wonder the intensity of the operations and aircrew losses was one tenth of what the allies experienced in the European theatre.

The author is to be commended for his pioneering attempt at analysing the Far eastern air campaign, and the extensive references provided in the book . While the book is a serious academic study of the Far Eastern Air War, it may not be a sought after read for the average reader unless they share a deep passion for the CBI/SEAC theatre.

Author Preston-Hough, P.
Publisher Helion & Company
ISBN 9781910294444
Date of Publication May 2015
Edition No
Binding Hardback
Book Size 234mm x 156mm
Number of pages 308 pages
Images 10 b/w photos, 3 maps, 13 tables