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The Kamikaze Hunters: The Men Who Fought for the Pacific, 1945

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In May 1945, with victory in Europe established, the war was all but over. But on the other side of the world, the Allies were still engaged in a bitter struggle to control the Pacific. And it was then that the Japanese unleashed a terrible new form of warfare: the suicide pilots, or Kamikaze.
Drawing on meticulous research and unique personal access to the remaining surviv
Paperback, 456 pages
Published May 19th 2016 by Pan (first published May 1st 2015)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  157 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war, naval
An example of my favorite kind military history: a book about schools, instruction; washouts, wastage, training accidents; laborious logistics, sleepless mechanics, the fuel greed of far-flung fleets; fatigue, friction, the crescendo of small stresses, psychological attrition, “twitchiness.” The years it took to train a combat pilot, and all the millions and misery it took to put up a dozen planes for three seconds of strafing. The tip of the spear is sharp but brittle.
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often tell my British coworkers that if Pax Americana is on the decline I hope that process is as graceful as their experience since 1945. While "The Kamikaze Hunters" is an attempt to tell the less-known story of the Fleet Air Arm's impressive record in battle later in the Second World War, the decline of Pax Britannica lurks in the background of this entire narrative. I often also tell my colleagues that culture is the story we tell our kids about ourselves, and Iredale takes time to explore ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked reading this book. It's the story of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy's carrier task force sent to fight alongside Task Force 58, America's mighty Carrier Force that ripped the Central Pacific from Japans' grasp in WWII. Along the way its really a complete look at the force, covering it's European exploits after the decision to build a real Multi-Carrier fleet was accelerated in 1942. We get the build up, the training, the equipment, much of it American Lend Lease Corsairs and Av ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I agree with other reviewers that the title of this book is misleading. It is, in fact, a book about the British Flight Air Arm in WWII - which is lucky, because that’s what I was interested in when I purchased it. My father was a Leading Torpedo Man in the Royal Navy serving on HMS Formidable in 1944-45. He talked very little about his War experience and I was hoping to learn more. I was not disappointed.

The introductory chapter whetted my appetite, but I found the chapter introducing the perso
Susan Paxton
It's pretty unusual to have a new book that covers an aspect of World War II that has not literally been done to death, but Will Iredale has succeeded and done a fine job of it with The Kamikaze Hunters: Fighting for the Pacific 1945. The book is far more ambitious than the title implies; while covering the brief campaign of the British Pacific Fleet against Japan in the closing months of the war, Iredale takes a long and welcome look at what got them there, in particular the training of the Fle ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Well, the title is a bit of an attention-getting misnomer. The book is really about the formation and actions of the British Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers and FAA crew. It is told partly through the eyes of survivors or participant diaries. Kamikaze suppression takes up maybe 10% of the book and not until the last third.

What was interesting to me?

1. The stories of training the men to be pilots in 1942-4. The diary and interview sources made for some amusing stories.

2. The details of the Pale
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All in all the book has some good bits of information pertaining to less known events of the Pacific theater. However, I was disappointed with the how the book played out compared to its title. If you're looking for a book covering Kamikaze tactics and how the allies combated this, be aware that this book is more about the British Royal Navy/FAA from its inception to the OPs that were carried out in the Pacific theater. With that said, I am glad I read Kamikaze Hunters as it opened my eyes to th ...more
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads

I gifted this book to my dad for Christmas. He is really into WW2 history.
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good so far. As other have said, the title is a bit misleading, but I knew this beforehand, so I am in no way disappointed. Hugely interesting and personal
Charles H Berlemann Jr
This was a very interesting book and provided insight into how the Royal Navy filled its Fleet Air Arm for the second half of the war (1943 to 1945). From volunteers primarily from the commonwealth nations such as Australian, Canada, New Zealand, in addition to the ones from the UK itself. They trained in UK and later in Canada and the US to become Naval Aviators. Some of the stories shared about their time in flight schools in the US were interesting if only because we have men who were just le ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In London on May 8th 1945 Nazi Germany capitulated to the allied powers and the celebration on Mainland England was enormous, however some found very little to celebrate...their boys were still fighting in the Pacific. The Fleet Air Arm was a branch of the British Pacific Fleet that served next to U.S. Forces trying force the Japanese into surrender. Though at this time the Imperial Japanese Empire was collapsing on itself, in its death throws it would introduce a weapon the world had never seen ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book, providing a detailed history of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF), the large formation of Royal Navy ships which operated against Japan in the closing months of WWII alongside the US Navy. The author rightfully points out that few histories provide a detailed overview of the BPF’s operations in the Pacific, let alone the story of how those ships, aircraft, and personnel were brought into service and readied for combat; this book successfully fills those gaps. Given the different natur ...more
lexo philia
This book tells the tales of some brave British flyboys, from their earliest dreams of flying, to training in the US or Canada, heading for the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, and then their various terrifyingly riveting experiences fighting the horror of Japanese kamikaze attacks. It could've done with somewhat better organization in places (which I'll blame on the editor more than the writer), and the lack of even a single map is extremely disappointing. My own illiteracy of British slang & ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Slowly worked my way through this last month. Well told story, the author's journalistic background was pretty obvious but he managed to make it a very personal story, especially towards the end where it became apparent he'd travel to the Japan with one of the pilots he focused on. As history the focus was narrow--Fleet Air Arm of the British Navy pilots training for the Pacific Theater--and perhaps a bit thin on some aspects one might expect in a war history. But an enjoyable, engaging, and ver ...more
Nancy Welbourn
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My grandmother, Nancy, is in this book. Here is a brief excerpt from an March 2015 email where she told me, her granddaughter, Katelyn, about it:

Ecitement! A friend of my English friend Keith, has written a book called: THE KAMIKAZE HUNTERS--Fighting for the Pacific 1945, and while it's mostly a story of what Keith and his buddies did during the war, there is a story about how Keith and I met and fell in love, and I have talked to the author, Will Ireland,several times on the phone.
Kay Smillie
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A side of the war that is rarely covered from a UK perspective, the British navy pilots and aircraft carriers involved in the battle against the Japanese. They were relegated to the inside pages of the British newspapers after the surrender of Germany. Well researched and an excellent addition to books covering this period in our history.

Ray Smillie
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read. You can tell the author took great pride in writing and telling the story of these men. As I read into the book I became involved in their story too. At the end I laid the book down feeling happy and sad in equal quantities. Those with an interest in the subject will enjoy very much.
Michael Doe
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A real insight, the life of a fighter pilot really wasn’t so glamorous.
Your average 20 year old today couldn’t begin to comprehend what these boys went through.

Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ian Chapman
Fast paced, with much input from aged surviving aircrew. Excellent index.
Joe Vonnegut
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed reading this account of the British Pacific Fleet and its role in the PTO during WWII. Well written, it is interesting comparing descriptive words used by a British author vs. American authors. The birth of Royal Naval Aviation, the British Pacific Fleet, and the fact that so many British aviators were trained here in the US and Canada was also of great interest to me. Bottom line, I highly recommend this book and thanks to the author for documenting the neglected story of our all ...more
Dave Hoff
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History has recorded many books about the RAF and how they saved Britain from the Nazi. More books, such as the one i just read on the Pacific part of WW2 told of the Naval and Marine aircrews and carriers. This a book about a group in the war unknown to most of us. The Fleet Air Arm. The Royal Navy's airmen. Getting into the war end of 1944 and thru to the end of the war in Aug. 1945, they did the impossible. Defending the Allied Navy ships from the Kamikaze. Stopping many in the air and shooti ...more
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book covers the activities of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) in the closing days of World War II and concentrates on the Fleet Air Arm. This includes the British carriers and pilots. The first half focuses on the training of the pilots and the build-up of the fleet. The second half describes the combat the BPF was involved in supporting the United States Navy in the Pacific. Since the British lost territory to the Japanese at the beginning of the war, it was felt by Churchill and other Bri ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
Tells the story of the British Navy in WWII in the pacific, supporting the U. S. Navy in late 1944 and in 1945
Lori Tatar
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Kamikaze Hunters: Fighting for the Pacific:1945 by Will Iredale is a fascinating biography of some of the British fighter pilots during World War II and shows what an important role our English allies played in securing the Pacific arena and helping the allies win the war. There is also a breathtaking array of photos toward the center of the book, and one photo in particular, that really shows what the times were like. There is a group of primarily British POWs who were being liberated from ...more
Rick Brindle
This story is less about hunting Kamikazes as following the Fleet Air Arm pilots from civilian life, through their training and then on to operations, fist against the Tirpitz, and then off to the fledgling British Pacific Fleet, where part of their mission was to hunt Kamikazes.
Not that I'm being critical about this, except maybe a different title would have helped.
So, a very detailed story, in which the reader gets to know the veterans very well. Much like warfare itself, the participants aren
Chris Shepheard
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I bought this book I thought it with just deal with the Kamikaze suicide attacks in the latter stages of WW2 but how wrong I was.

This is the story of Britain's naval flyers from the days before the war when they were very much a "second class" service with inferior equipment and lack of dedicated, experienced flyers.

It leads the reader through the revitalising of the Fleet Air Arm using newly recruited personnel who were trained on both sides of the Atlantic before being sent east equipped
David Lowther
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Kamikaze Hunters is a superb record of a Second World War campaign that of which few people were aware; the Fleet Air Arm lending invaluable support to the US Navy in the final months of the war against Japan.

The author chronicles the lives of one particular group of (very young) flyers from recruitment through training to action in Norwegian waters and the Pacific. Half were dead by August 1945. Using diaries and personal recollection the author, Will Iredale, has charted their progress fro
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first-time author does a good job covering an area of WW II not familiar to me -- the British FAA participation in the Pacific theater during the waning days of the conflict. I agree that the title is a bit of a misnomer, as the Kamikaze is a rather minor, albeit significant portion of the book. The thread of the book follows the lives of some FAA pilots from boyhood, through the war, and beyond. Well-paced, wide-ranging, and interestingly written.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't read much about the English Royal Navy in the Pacific after the beginning of the war. e This book helps correct that by covering the Its efforts after the fall of Germany and what it did in the Pacific. The aircraft form their carriers helped in the final defeat of Japan by attacking airfields to help keep the Kamakazies in check.
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