If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
The Cactus Air Force and the Japanese Withdrawal from Guadalcanal
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591144465
  • Binding: Hardcover, Ebook Available
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 416
  • Subject: History
  • Date Available: November 2012
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
$42.95 List Price
Clear The Decks Price*
$10.74 Member Price
Or Purchase as an Ebook
Full Description:

This revisionist history questions some key traditional assumptions underlying Operation KE–the rescue of some 10,600 Japanese troops from Guadalcanal. The authors challenge the accepted American view that the Japanese succeeded largely because U.S. Pacific Theater commanders let them. Tracing the course of the air and sea clashes surrounding Operation KE, the writers conclude that Japanese strategic planning took advantage of the strengths possessed by the Imperial armed forces while exploiting the limitations of their adversaries. On the other hand, American misreading of Japanese intentions, the consequent pursuit of a cautious offensive strategy, plus a misallocationof resources, all undermined U.S. initiatives to stymy Operation KE.

Roger Letourneau, a retired businessman and former member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, lives in Hamilton, Ontario. He holds an MAin History and an MBA.

Dennis Letourneau, a professional engineer who obtained his engineering degree from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, lives in Canmore, Alberta.

~ Praise for Operation KE ~

"This book is clearly the product of much original research and is generally a very good read.  I have no hesitation in recommending this interesting book, which certainly fills the gap in the naval literature of the Second World War."

– Warship 2014

"Operation Ke is an insightful, detailed, and often gripping account of the evacuation and the determined but ultimately unsuccessful effort by Allied air forces based on Guadalcanal to halt the movement."

— The NYMAS Review

"Operation KE is an interesting and informative read, as the authors have produced a well-organized analysis of a lesser known operation of Japanese forces in the South Pacific...Sheds new light on this facet of World War II and is recommended to the readership."

The Journal of America's Military Past

“In summary, the authors aptly describe KE as “a great escape,” successfully evacuating some 10,000 Japanese troops despite continued, often ferocious, U.S. air attack. The final chapter contains a detailed analysis of the reasons why the Japanese succeeded and the Allies failed to stop them, but notes that relatively few of the emperor’s rescued soldiers fought again in the Solomons. Operation KE is a worthwhile contribution to the literature of the Guadalcanal campaign.”

Naval History

“The narrative is rich in detail of the aerial action, giving comprehensive, blow-by-blow accounts that accentuate the heroism and resourcefulness of the Cactus Air Force crews.”

Seapower Magazine

“Extremely detailed, informative and comprehensive.”

Defense Media Network

“By far the most detailed treatment of this important and under-studied operation. Packed with new research, the result is a thorough treatment of the air battles that raged in the Solomon Islands at the end of the Guadalcanal campaign.”

—Jonathan Parshall, co-author, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Operation KE is a crackling good account of the Japanese military's successful rescue of their 10,000 troops remaining on Guadalcanal in early 1943. Researched extensively from both U.S. and Japanese records, the story unwinds around day-to-day air and sea combat. The narrative is engrossing and the authors’ conclusions are sure to stir controversy."

—Lt. Col. James A. Feliton, USMC (Ret.) former Cactus Air Force Pilot during Operation KE

“The surprisingly successful Japanese evacuation of troops from Guadalcanal has for too long been largely ignored or minimized. Deeply researched and detailed, the Letourneaus’ work picks up where John Lundstrom’s masterful The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign left off in describing and analyzing the desperate and intense aerial combat that took place over the Japanese destroyer flotillas engaged therein. Detailing the equipment, tactics, challenges, and experiences of the air units and airmen of both sides, this work represents a groundbreaking contribution to this significant and previously overlooked history.”

—Allyn D. Nevitt, author of Long Lancers

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Reviews


Conferences and Events

2016 Naval History Conference

Thu, 2016-09-08 - Fri, 2016-09-09

Join us for the 2016 Naval History Conference on 8 and 9 September at Alumni Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy. The Athena...

WEST 2017

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

View All

From the Press

Guest Speaker

Tue, 2016-07-26

CDR Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, USN

Guest Speaker & Book Signing

Wed, 2016-07-27

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership