My current understanding of WW2 involving Japan is that US forces destroyed the brunt of Japanese air and naval forces in the Pacific.

I know however that land battles occurred on large scale in Burma against British forces. Also, I read in this blog about European wars where the author claimed that Americans were not the main fighters, even if the Eastern Front isn't counted (the author seems a bit affirmative though).

So, question:

  • How many Japanese air forces (both army and navy air services) were involved in the Burma theater, and in which timeframe? Same question for naval forces?
  • How much does this theater cost Japan in air or naval power?

Preliminary research:

I got information and a link to a book for 1942 air battles over Burma. Interesting, but I suppose that the battle of Guadalcanal and later in the Solomons led to repositioning of Japanese forces in 1943. For naval forces, I identified that a Japanese force was based in Singapore, but it seemed it only intervene in the Philippines in 1944 (against Americans). The only loss to Commonwealth I identified there is the loss of an Haguro cruiser to destroyers and the loss of a boat (another cruiser?) to midget submarine. Both happened in 1944.

  • Brown, A. Sutherland and Rodney, William "Burma Banzai: The Air War in Burma through Japanese Eyes." Canadian Military History 11, 2 (2002) has some info on the air.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 29, 2022 at 15:33
  • Thanks for the link, could you give some elements here? LIke numbers for example Mar 29, 2022 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


After the war there were some 187 monographs produced by actual Japanese participants at the order of Allied Supreme Headquarters. Not just a few are on-line and are a good place to start if you are looking for the Japanese side. They cover most all of Japanese operations, Army, Army Air Force, and Navy. Some of what may be of interest to you are below.

Southeast Area Air Operations Record, Phase I (November 1941-February 1942) Operations of the 3d Air Force (later 3d Air Army) in support of the advance of the 15th Army into Burma and the movement of the 25th Army down the Malay Peninsula.

Southwest Area Air Operations Record, Phase II (July 1942-June 1944) An account of the operations of the 3d Air Army in the areas of Borneo, Burma, Malaya, South China, and French Indo-China.

Southeast Area Air Operations Record, Phase III (July 1944-August 1945) The 3d Air Army in the final defense of the Southwest Area. Little coverage of combat operations, but considerable information on transfers, reorganization of units, logistical problems, and attempts to convert outmoded aircraft to compete with the late model planes of the Allies.

Burma Air Operations Record (January 1942-August 1945) Describes operations of the 5th Air Division in driving British and American air units out of Burma in 19r2. Covers support of ground units in later operations and gives an account of the final defense operations with air units relocated to Thailand and French Indo-China

Southern Area Air Operations Record (1941-1945) A very general coverage of air operations in the Southern Army theater of operations. Little combat operational coverage is provided as study is primarily devoted to recording the organization and activities of air headquarters units together with the transfers and attachments of subordinate units.

Air Operations in the China Area (July 1937-August 1945) Air operations in support of ground forces in the China Incident. Covers the ICHI-GO Operation in which attempts were made to eliminate U.S. air bases in China and to intercept U.S. planes en route to bomb Japan. Describes final efforts to build up strength to protect coastal installation against the anticipated Allied invasion of China.

An aggregation of the digitally available monographs may be found here.

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