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U.S.A.A.F. Combat Cargo Groups of the Second World War


Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in World War Two Vol-2

Year of expansion and consolidation

Robert H. Kelly

       Book order form for Robert H. Kelly's Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII - Volume II, 1943 - Year of expansion and consolidation

Robert Kelly's Allied Air Transport Operations, Volume 2 , is very impressive indeed. In this volume, one in a series projected to span the years of the Pacific war, Kelly offers a chronicle of a single year of Allied military transportation.

Good reference material volumes which provide information in an accessible form is extremely valuable to military historians, particularly amateur military historians. When I first opened Robert Kelly's volume, I was expecting to find a work similar in scope and detail to Martin Middlebrook's commendable Bomber Command War Diaries , which I keep close to hand on my shelves, and consult with some regularity. Quite frankly, Kelly's volume surpassed my expectations.

Allied Air Transport Operations focuses on 1943, as the full title suggests. It provides not a chronicle of transport operations for the year, but a less-than-brief presentation of each of the major Transportation Groups or Wings providing support services for the Allied troops engaged against the Japanese. In effect, Mr Kelly is providing the story behind the story of the Pacific War. He does it very well indeed.

What can one find in this volume? I started making a list, and stopped before I was overwhelmed by the variety of data Mr Kelly offers. Location and capacity of airfields: covered. Tonnages: covered. Aircraft types and numbers: covered. Flying personnel: largely covered, particularly when dealing with losses of personnel. Orders and operations memoranda: provided as appropriate. Division of cargo transport v. troop carriage: largely provided. Anecdotal stories: inserted as appropriate. Air base layouts: provided as necessary. Maps: provided (but, truthfully, not as fully as I would have liked). Photos: included, but in insufficient quantity for my taste. In truth, this is an exhaustive study of a very specific, very important part of the war against Japan.

It is possible to study this volume I won't say read, though that too might apply independently, because it has its own story to tell, and it tells it well. Personally, however, I see Robert Kelly's book as a reference volume for those who want to understand how and why the Allies were able to maintain supply as they consolidated their offensive abilities in the middle year of the Pacific campaigns.

There are other features of this volume which should be mentioned, because they indicate the meticulousness of Robert Kelly's effort. The volume is, for instance, hard-bound: it is a volume that is designed for frequent usage. It is beautifully and strongly bound; the signatures stand out when the volume is opened. There is a "silk" page marker something I haven't seen for years in a working volume. Mr Kelly has provided a book which is physically substantial: he is assuming that his volumes will be used on a regular basis, and has given them the strength to withstand the usage. These are not, I admit, indications of the quality of the information found in Kelly's book. But they are indications of Mr Kelly's desire to offer a volume which can stand up to excessive and prolonged use.

There are, I admit, certain qualities I would like to see changed in the next volume of the series, but I'm splitting hairs by raising them and there are only three. From a purely cosmetic point-of-view, I would love to see a dust-jacket carrying the photos now on the hard cover. A dust jacket would protect the volume from the frequent use I would expect it to receive. I would like to see the volume printed on matte, rather than "satin" finish paper; the paper for volume 2 does not take either pen or pencil annotations well, and I found myself wanting to make my personal annotations on the page. Third and this is a minor point indeed I was torn between thinking the photos included were simply badly reproduced and hoping that their quality was designed to suggest the temporary status of the bases, activities and personnel included in the book.

Not everyone can afford to have Mr Kelly's volumes in his personal library. But I have trouble in believing that any library, and in particular any library accessed by military personnel or military historians professional or amateur could afford to be without the series he is creating. Mr Kelly is providing a massive amount of information which explains how the Allies were able to conclude the Pacific War so quickly and effectively.

Because of the complexity of this volume of Robert Kelly's series, a full evaluation of Allied Air Transport Operation SWP will not be possible for some time: reference books gain respectability only by continued reference by scholars and interested parties. I feel confident, however, that this series of reference volumes will prove to be of immense importance to those who wish a full understanding of how the battles of the Pacific theatre were fought and won.

Book order form for Robert H. Kelly's Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII - Volume II, 1943 - Year of expansion and consolidation


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  I am looking for former members of the 3rd Combat Cargo Group,  1st, Combat Cargo Group, 2nd Combat Cargo Group and the 4th Combat Cargo Group.  In fact I would like to hear from anyone who flew over the Hump during WW II, or flew any Combat Cargo Missions at any time (Berlin Air-Lift, Korea, etc.) 

Please e-mail comment, suggestions, corrections,etc to: bill@comcar.org

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