Air-to-Air Review in Aviation News

Air-to-Air -  by Chris Rudge.  Published by Adventure Air.  Limited Edition of 900 signed and numbered copies.  Hardback book, 436 pages with 242 black and white photos and 7 maps.  NZ$84.95 + NZ$5.00 P&P per book.  Available direct from publisher only:  Adventure Air, P.O.Box 240, Lyttelton or visit

Air-to-Air is a comprehensive overview of all air combat claims made by aircrew flying with RNZAF Squadrons in the Pacific [plus Malaya] Theatre during World War II.  The publication provides the background to various campaigns and basically fills in the detail behind previously classified air combat reports from August 1942 [actually April] at Guadalcanal to the RNZAF's last combat claim in 1944.

The book is Mr Rudge's second, taking two years to compile.  This included trips to various archives, reading combat reports and then cross-referencing them because "you couldn't take anything for granted," said Mr Rudge.  The well-known Canterbury aviator added that an extensive knowledge of aviation wasn't needed to read the book as everything is explained and put into [a] New Zealand context.

The foreword is written by a surviving World War II RNZAF pilot, F/O Geoff Fisken who amassed 11 kills, 6 while flying Buffalos and 5 while flying P-40 Kittyhawks.

Air-to-Air is written in four parts.  After the introduction, the second part details the history of air-to-air combat claims [made by aircrew flying for RNZAF squadrons], with emphasis on how the RNZAF recorded their claims in the Pacific and the tactics they adopted in combat.  The third part of the book includes biographical details of all aircrew who made probable and confirmed claims.  The final section includes a summary of claims, comparisons between Allied and Japanese aircraft, details of aircraft designations and evidence that shows the RNZAF Fighter Wing can lay claim to 100 kills, not 99 which is the historical tally.

Air-to-Air details an important period in the RNZAF's history and is timely following the scrapping of New Zealand's air combat squadrons, and is thoroughly recommended for an bookcase.

Review by Geoff Sloan.

return to main index