Most naval modelers are familiar with the French publishing firm of Lela Presse. Navires & Histoire has consistently been one of the highest quality magazines
available on the history of the design and operations of the warships of the world. Incidentally,
Navires & Histoire Les Hors-Série #27 published in 2016 is on the
Dunkerque and Strasbourg, just perfect for the recent HobbyBoss release of Dunkerque. On the aviation side of the house, Lela Presse has Avions magazine, which
covers aviation designs and operations and the
Batailles Aériennes series, which covers aerial campaigns. A new magazine series launched by Lela is Batailles
Aériennes Les Hors-Série
(Les Hors-Série are Specials, which have expanded coverage of aerial campaigns of World War Two over the normal length volumes in
Batailles Aériennes series. The first issue of Batailles Aériennes Les Hors Série covered the aerial operations over Normandy from June to August 1944. It is the
second issue in this new series that is covered in this book review. Entitled
Les Kamikaze, Le Sacrifice Ultime De L'Aviation Japonaise ( The Kamikaze, The
Ultimate Sacrifice of Japanese Aviation) and written by Michel Ledet, the volume covers the rise of the Japanese aerial suicide squadrons and their operation from the
invasion of the Philippine Islands in October 1944 to the end of the war in the Pacific. As with the other magazine series from Lela, this volume is in French. Even if
you can't read the language, the volume is packed with color plates, interesting photographs, many of which are in color, maps and drawings. The volume is 120
pages plus another six pages containing a list of available Lela Presse publications and order form. The volume is available directly from Lela and also available
Les Kamikaze is divided into four chapters and three annexes, which are self explanatory by their titles. Chapter One is The Philippines in which the suicide aircraft
was first systematically used, Forty pages are devoted to the birth of the weapon system and its development in the Philippines campaign. Just this one chapter has
107 photographs, nine of which are in color. This chapter also has a color map of the Philippines showing the bases for Kamikaze units, a matrix designating the
aerial squadrons and their bases that were used in Philippine kamikaze operations and a matrix of Japanese airborne operations on December 6,1944. Color plates
show the profiles of A6M2 Type 21 Zero, A6M5 Type 52 Zero, Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan 12 (Jill), Aichi D3A2 Type 22, two plates of Nakajima Ki-43-III, Kawasaki
Ki-48-II, Mitsubishi Ki-51 Type 99 Sonia, Mitsubishi Ki-67, Yokosuka D4Y3 Suisei (Judy),  and a P1Y1 Ginga 11 (Frances). Another plate shows a Kawasaki Ki-45
but is mislabeled as another Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 52 Zero. In addition to the color profile plates, the unit and pilot of each aircraft are identified. There are also
Bureau of Ships' drawings showing the damage to the escort carrier USS Saint Lo, fleet carrier USS Franklin on October 20, 1944, and destroyer USS Abner Read.
The second chapter is on operations off Iwo Jima and consists of 13 pages. This chapter has 43 photographs, color profiles of two different P1Y1 Ginga 11
(Frances) and a Bureau of Ships drawing showing damage to fleet carrier USS Franklin on March 19, 1945.
Chapter Three is on the climatic campaign of Okinawa in which the kamikaze threat caused its greatest damage to the United States Navy. This chapter consists of
35 pages. It has 89 photographs, four of which are in color and covers the attacks on the British Far Eastern Fleet, as well as the USN during the campaign. Color
profiles with information on the pilot and unit are provided for the following aircraft: Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 52 Zero, Mitsubishi A6M2-K Zero, Nakajima B5N1
Type 97 Kate, Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan 12 Jill, Aichi E13A1 Type 0 Jake,Mitsubishi F1M2 Pere, three different Mitsubishi G4M2 Type 1 Betty, two different
Nakajima Ki-43-III Oscar, Kawasaki Ki-45,  Mitsubishi Ki-57-IIb, Kawasaki Ki-61-1 Tony, Mitsubishi Ki-67 Helen, Manshu Ki-79, and two different Nakajima
Ki-84 Frank. Color maps cover two colored military maps, color map with kamikaze bases including miniature submarines and speedboats, and a color map on
destroyer picket locations. Additionally there are diagrams on the 22 kamikaze attacks on USS Laffey on April 16, 1945 with time and aircraft type and another
diagram of the multiple kamikaze attacks on USS Aaron Ward on May 3, 1945.  There are also two matrices on Japanese kamikaze unit designations, and a very
interesting matrix on the types of ships sunk and damaged by kamikaze attack versus conventional attack, which show the kamikaze as far more dangerous than
conventional attack. Chapter Four is entitled the last months of the Kamikaze, which covers operations after the Okinawa to the end of the war. It consists of
seven pages and includes 21 photographs, two of which are in color. Color profiles with pilot and unit for an Aichi B7A2 Ryusei  Grace and a Yokosuka D4Y4
Suisei 43 Judy.
The volume does not end with the history of kamikaze operations as there are three annexes in the volume after the historical portion. Annex One is entitled Ohka
or Baka (Cherry Blossom or Fool) and takes an in-depth look at the Yokosuka MXY7 rocket powered suicide aircraft, which was called the Ohka (Cherry
Blossom) and which the allies gave the nickname Baka (Fool). Just this annex is nine pages in length and includes 31 photographs, three of which are color. There
is a matrix showing the differences among the three subtypes of Ohka, the Ohka 11 the Ohka K-1, and the Ohka 22. One page of the annex has 1:48 scale
drawings of the plan, profile and front view of the Model 11 and profiles of the Models K-1 and 22, while a second page has a full color plate showing both
profiles, plan and front view of an Ohka Model 11. Annex Two covers the Yokosuka D4YA Model 43 Susei Judy. This annex has three pages with seven
photographs, two profile line drawings and performance specifications chart. Annex Three is on the other kamikaze weapons. It consists of nine pages with 25
photographs, two of which are color, four drawings and three charts. If the normal aircraft kamikaze could be considered normal, this annex looks at seaborne
and unconventional aerial weapons. The naval portion looks at the speedboats and miniature submarines. The four drawings are profiles with interior of the types
of Kaiten, miniature submarine kamikaze. These are Kaiten Types 1, 2, 4 and 10. The unconventional aerial kamikaze weapons covers the Nakajima Ki-115 Tsurugi
open cockpit aircraft designed specifically for kamikaze missions and the Aichi M6A1 Seiran float planes carried by the large
I-400 class cruiser submarines. The
three charts  cover the specifications for the Kaiten Type 1, Nakajima Ki-115 Tsurugi, and Aichi M6A1 Seiran.
Although written in French, Batailles Aériennes Les Hors-Série #2, Les Kamikaze, Le Sacrifice Ultime De L'Aviation Japonaise, provides outstanding, high quality
color plates, photographs many of which are in color, maps, charts, and matrices of Kamikaze Operations from the Invasion of the Philippines to the end of the war
in the Pacific. Just the graphic content alone provides significant information for the modeler and history buff.
Steve Backer