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Osprey Aviation Elite Units No. 23


475th Fighter Group


by John Stanaway

with illustrations by Chris Davey


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey Aviation Elite Units No. 23
475th Fighter Group
by John Stanaway
with illustrations by Chris Davey
ISBN: 9781846030437
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 128 pages
Price: GB£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Good coverage of the type in these theatres; logically and chronologically laid out
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by
Rodger Kelly

Osprey's 475th Fighter Group is available online from Squadron.com




Hades, Clover, and Possum were radio call signs from World War II.  Individually, and respectively they represented, the 431st, 432nd and 433rd Fighter Squadrons.  Collectively, they made up the 475th Fighter Group the crack P-38 Fighter Group of the Pacific Theatre during World War II. 

The 475th Fighter Group is the subject of the latest addition to the Aviation Elite Units series from Osprey publications.  The book is authored by none other than John Stanaway, the official historian of the P-38 National Association and the author of other Osprey Publications titles in their "Aircraft of the Aces" series.  The book is illustrated by Chis Davey, another name who will be familiar to readers of Osprey publications.  A traditional airbrush artist, Chris has illustrated more than 20 other titles in the Osprey Publications stable. 

With this pedigree, I was expecting something a little more than information on the 475th Fighter Group that is already available in print and on the internet. 

I wasn't disappointed.  The author relates a whole lot more than just the bare facts of the history of the 475th Fighter Group.  Sure, it does tell you where and when it was formed, who staffed it, the battles it fought, its triumphs and its tragedies as you would expect.  He also paints you a greater and fuller picture of the life within a Fighter Group during WWII.  He includes the stories of the supply personnel's never-ending struggles to keep the spares coming at the far end of an already lengthy pipeline and of the servicing crews and their battles to field a Group's worth of serviceable machines at all times. 

The book comprises five chapters and two appendices.  The chapter list pretty well follows the path of the 475th across the Pacific: 

·        Be Joyful in Battle. (forming the 475th)

Training (in Australia) and First Combat (in New Guinea), The Wewak Campaign.  

·        Huon Gulf and Rabaul

Intrusion Northward, Rabaul, (The) Japanese Response.  

·        Long Range Over Water

Black Sunday, Securing New Guinea, (the) Lindbergh Visit (and his instruction in gaining greater range from the P-38), Balikpapan. 

·        The Philippines

Climax in the Philippines, December Battles, Group Rivalry (with the 49th Fighter Group). 

·        South East Asia and Beyond

(The) Death of Tom McGuire, The End in the Philippines, (The) Last Aerial Victories, Supporting the Troops on The Ground, Postwar Postscript. 

The Appendices are: 

·        Appendix 1 – Victories claimed by the 475th Fighter Group ( by Squadron). 

·        Appendix 2 – 475th Fighter Group Aces – a list of all pilots claiming five or more    victories and their scores. 

·        Appendix 3 – Commentary on the colour plates. 

Speaking of the colour profiles, as you would expect, there are a few familiar ones amongst them including Tom McGuire's various "Pudgys", Carroll Anderson's, "Virginia Marie" and Charles Mc Donald's "Putt Putt Maru".  There are also some we have seen in decal format too like the "Florida Cracker", "Blood and Guts", "Screamin' Kid' and "Slightly Dangerous", but happily there are some that are new to me as well.  The profiles cover the whole range of P-38s flown by the 475th from the early F,Gs and Hs to the late model Js and Ls.  There is even a profile of a captured and suitably decorated Ki-43 "Oscar" amongst them. 

What I was especially impressed by the black and white photographs within the pages of the book.  They are a good mix of "official photographs" and of what appear to be photographs taken by members of the 475th themselves.  Normally, non-official photographs tend to be a little "general" but some of the ones in this book are suitable for use as reference when model building. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The book consists of 128 pages printed on glossy paper between cardboard covers.  It contains 123 black and white photographs and 36 colour profiles as well as colour renditions of the 475th's and of each squadron's insignia. 

A good book and a good read!  It will appeal to both the armchair historian and the modeller. 



The front cover features a painting by Mak Postlewaite.  It is an illustration of Tom McGuire's encounter over Oro Bay in New Guinea on 17 October 1943 with Japanese aircraft which led to him bailing out of his P-38.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample

475th Fighter Group
(Aviation Elite 23)
Visit Osprey Publishing
Author: John Stanaway
Illustrator: Chris Davey
US Price: $22.95
UK Price: £13.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: February 7, 2007
Details: 128 pages; ISBN: 9781846030437
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Review Copyright © 2007 by Rodger Kelly
Page Created 19 March, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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