ATTACK ON YAMAMOTO by Carroll V. Glines


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A diligent, often dramatic evaluation of a durable dispute from WW II: Which American pilot deserves the credit for shooting Japan's greatest admiral out of the sky? In evenhanded fashion, Glines (The Doolittle Raid, etc.) examines the circumstances surrounding the end of Isoroku Yamamoto, the man who masterminded Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. His rendezvous with death was set in motion when US forces in the Pacific theater intercepted and decoded an incautious message that the punctual naval commander was to make an inspection of front-line air bases. Early on the morning of April 18, 1943, an Army Air Corps squadron of P-38 fighters intercepted the light bomber in which the admiral was flying and sent it crashing into the Bougainville jungle, killing all aboard. Long after the successful completion of this odds against operation, which (owing to security considerations) was not publicized at the time, a low-level controversy arose as to who actually destroyed Yamamoto's plane. Intelligence officers conducted no formal debriefings after the mission. Accordingly, the boldly asserted claim by Thomas Lanphier, Jr., that he had done so was long unchallenged, in public at least. Lanphier's wingman, Rex T. Barber, and others who participated in the operation, however, never accepted their comrade's claim. Over the years, evidence has accumulated that their doubts were justified. Cases in point include 1975 testimony from the only known surviving pilot of the six Zero fighters flying escort for Yamamoto. Having reviewed a wealth of archival material and interviewed available eyewitnesses (excluding Lanphier, who died in 1987), Glines offers a tellingly detailed account of an epic air operation and its contentious aftermath. His research convinces him (as it will most readers) that the credit for having shot down Yamamota is solely due Rex Barber. A splendid reprise (complete with big-picture perspectives) of a turning-point chapter in American military history.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0887405096
Publisher: Orion/Crown