Tora! Tora! Tora! - Pearl Harbor 1941 from Osprey

Tora! Tora! Tora! - Pearl Harbor 1941
Raid 26
Mark E. Stille
Published by Osprey for £11.99
ISBN 978-1-84908-509-0
Paperback    80pp    Illustrated    24.9 x 18.5 x 0.8 cm


Pearl Harbour; the day of infamy, December 7th, 1941; the Japanese attack that brought the United States into WW2 and which ensured that the Allies would eventually prove victorious on every front. Is there anything left to write about this historic event?


Well, in truth, probably not. However, Osprey have entered the market with one of their typical "attack-style" volumes in their Raid series which attempts to give a concise overall appraisal of the strategy, planning, tactics, outcomes and legacy of that Sunday morning in 1941. Having recently reviewed Airfix's excellent little 1/72 Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero model, an aircraft that played a prominent role in the action, it seems appropriate that this volume has now been released.

I have only reviewed one of author Mark E. Stille's Osprey volumes before, a disappointing book on the British Dreadnought vs German Dreadnought clash at Jutland which missed the target it was aimed at somewhat. However, I had been told by a modelling friend who had bought the new Pearl Harbour book that it was a much better effort, so I nabbed the copy for review when it became available.

So, in the usual Osprey manner, Stille takes us through the origins of the attack, both from a political and a socio-economic standpoint and leads the reader through the planning process. One very positive element of the book then emerges; so many Pearl Harbour books have ignored or only touched on the submarine operations that played an important role in the plan, but here they are given due recognition with a full explanation as to their intended actions. The actual raid then takes up the majority of the book, to be followed by a review of the losses suffered by both sides, the aftermath of the attack and some overall conclusions on the action.

Of course, in 80 pages that are well interspersed with photographs (many of them have been previously published elsewhere), colour profiles and artworks, the reader can only gain an overall flavour for this major historical event but unlike as with his previous work I mentioned, this time Stille has produced just the right tone and mixture for a volume in this series.

One small oddity should be mentioned. The author often uses a formal, old-fashioned method of representing Japanese names, with the family name (surname) first and the first name (Christian name) last. I have checked with 2 business colleagues who have worked in Japan and this is a very outmoded form of address not carried out in present-day Japan.

The book has many illustrations worth showing the reader. My selection this time is as follows: below: three of the Japanese carriers involved in the attack, the Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu (below)



a great photo of the wreck of one of the midget submarines lost in the attack being recovered many years later (above); a battle plan showing the first wave of the attack, the forces involved on both sides and how it progressed (below);



Profiles of an aircraft from each of the 6 carriers along with the organisation of the aerial forces involved in the attack (above); and an atmospheric illustration of the "Kate " torpedo bomber flown by Lieutenant-Commander Murata, torpedo leader from the Akagi, attacking the partially-crippled battleship USS West Virginia (below).


Rarely for Osprey, I must point out the proof readers have missed a major set of mistakes. On page 23, the descriptions for the profiles of the 6 aircraft shown above have somehow become transposed so that 4 of the profiles are incorrectly identified. From top to bottom, the aircraft shown are from the Shokaku, Akagi, Zuikaku, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu – not the order that Osprey suggest. This should be addressed in the next print run.

Finally, I should mention that there is an iPhone APP available from Osprey covering Pearl Harbour; not having that phone, I am unable to comment on its quality.

So What Do We Think?
This is just what it should be; a good, readable, general overview of the Pearl Harbour raid, presented in the best Osprey manner. Pricing makes it excellent value for money as well. I was very impressed by the inclusion of the details on the submarine actions.


Our thanks to Osprey for the review copy. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

Robin Jenkins.