William S. Vaughn
SILVERPLATE is an engaging blend of military retro-techo/spy/suspense thriller and epic. Above all, it's a Pacific Air War historical fiction novel replete with vivid, realistic accounts of air/naval combat as well as politically-driven decisions on both sides that affected the outcome. These include:
The experiences of a Japanese Army Air Force exchange officer flying jumpseat in a Luftwaffe Junkers JU-88C-6c radar nightfighter over Europe to observe German tactics as it hunts down and attacks a colossal stream of British heavy bombers; Morishima has arranged for this mission to garner operational expertise to counter anticipated nocturnal B-29 raids over the Japanese Homeland.
A protracted air battle over the Kanto Plain between a pair of Republic P-47Ns and two Kiwanishi Ki-45-Kai-C “Nick” nightfighters on a daylight training mission; when the American pilots damage the Nicks' leader's airplane and seriously wound his gunner, they allow the Japanese pilot to safely land and get medical attention for his crewman that saves his life. This widely observed and reported incident sets off a surprising sequence of events involving both sides.
The adventures of a Marianas-based B-29 crew who, after surviving the low-level incendiary raid of March 9-10, 1945 over Tokyo, are pursued by a radar-equipped Nakajima J1N1 “Irving” heavy nightfighter as they make their escape. They emerge victorious after turning the tables on their attacker by stalking it using the Superfortress's AN/APQ-13 "Mickey" navigational and bombing radar in an ad hoc air-intercept mode to lay down fire from a forward turret to shoot it down.
An element of ten P-47N escorts for a strike mission unexpectedly encounter a full strength, elite Japanese Air Combat Group flying late-model Nakajima Ki-84-1a “Frank” fighters; they desperately, and successfully, engage the Franks to protect over 100 Ie Shima-based Thunderbolts on a tactical bombing and strafing mission over Kyushu.
A nighttime ambush by a pair of carrier-borne F6F Hellcat radar nightfighters of a captured B-29 being test flown in the Tokyo area by the Japanese in preparation for a “Trojan Horse” strike on the main Iwo Jima air base; the transmission of details of the flight had been transmitted to local Japanese military units and intercepted by the Americans with a compromised Japanese cipher that its military was aware of but refused to address.
In the run up to the American's atomic strike on Japan, the protagonist, Enko "Eddie" Morishima, observes a solo high-flying Superfortress dropping a huge mysterious orange bomb near the Imperial palace. Concerned that this was a training flight for an atomic bomb attack, he arranges an intercept of a subsequent Silverplate B-29 formation by a high speed Mitsubishi Ki-83 prototype interceptor that takes high-resolution photos of the specially-configured Superfortress bombers. During the encounter, Japanese signals intelligence also intercept a transmission from the formation leader invoking the super-secret codename "Silverplate" that eventually leads Morishima to conclude that the Americans are preparing to drop a nuclear weapon.
A pair of radar vectored manned Baka Bombs launched from Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G4M2e “Betty” mother ships nearly succeed in an attack on the USS Huey radar picket destroyer "Huey" on station off Kyushu island. The Huey's Combat Information Center (CIC) new General Electric SC-2 aerial search radar integrated into the the Mark 51 fire-control director fitted to the Huey facilitated visually and radar-directed 5-inch, 40-mm and 20-mm anti-aircraft fire using radar-proximity triggered shells.
Pacific Air War Historical Fiction