Santa Cruz 1942: Carrier duel in the South Pacific
Contributor: Andrew Nguyen
Review Date: 13 Mar 2013
In the aftermath of Midway, the US Pacific Fleet gambled on an immediate offensive against the Japanese in the South Pacific. Choosing the island of Guadalcanal as the target, the Americans invaded on August 7, 1942. It resulted in a six-month long campaign that inevitably involved the carriers of both the Pacific Fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy. Despite the losses at Midway, the Japanese carrier fleet was still a threat to deal with and particularly in the naval battles in October; it would turn in one of its finest performances. However, it would turn out to be the last chances for the Japanese carrier fleet to battle the Americans on equal terms.
Written by Mark Stille with illustrations by Howard Gerrad, the 247th book in Osprey's campaign series covers the two main carrier battles of the Guadalcanal campaign. Those that have read previous books in the Osprey campaign series know what to expect here in terms of the outline of the content of the book.
In terms of content, the book is very informative, particularly when discussing the carrier fleets both side had for the campaign. The sections on the Japanese carrier force provided an impressive description on how they would operate their carrier forces in the aftermath of Midway. Despite the space in Osprey books, the descriptions of the battle are very detailed with a focus on the performances on the Japanese side (along with the cost of that performance) and the improvements on the American side while dealing with the problems that still bedeviled their carrier operations. Had luck been on their side and they hadn't lost so many planes, the Japanese might have turned Santa Cruz into a true victory.
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