The Lightning & The Swallow

Donald Nijboer reveals the fascinating World War Two fight for air superiority over New Guinea and Rabaul

Air combat in the Southwest Pacific was unique in many ways. In no other World War Two theatre was air power more central to operations than here. As combat developed, it became clear that the objective of every major military move was to seize or neutralise an air base.

Without control of the air, supplying each base became next to impossible, as everything had to be brought in by either ship or aircraft. For the Japanese, keeping their lines of communication open was vital for victory and, in the end, for their very survival.

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