Carrier Attack Darwin 1942

The Complete Guide to Australia's own Pearl Harbor

Dr Tom Lewis OAM, Peter Ingman

When the Pacific war began it was a case of "when not if” Darwin would be attacked. But nobody could have predicted the extraordinary scale and ferocity of the 19 February 1942 raid. A massive strike force, blooded at Pearl Harbor just weeks before, hit Darwin in the biggest Japanese air attack ever in the South Pacific.
Date Published :
September 2013
Publisher :
Avonmore Books
Illustration :
fully illustrated, color
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9780987151933
Pages : 368
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.4 inches
Stock Status : Out of stock. Available in 6-8 weeks


When the Pacific war began it was a case of “when not if” Darwin would be attacked. But nobody could have predicted the extraordinary scale and ferocity of the 19 February 1942 raid. A massive strike force, blooded at Pearl Harbor just weeks before, hit Darwin in the biggest Japanese air attack ever in the South Pacific. Since then, generations of Australians have been drawn to the stories and folklore of the Darwin action. But facts have blurred and mythology has thrived.

What of the warning that never happened? What of the ghost ship actually sunk in the Atlantic a year earlier? Did a fighter pilot contrive a false combat record? Did the authorities cover up the raid? Why do Australians know so little about it? This is the book that tests these many Darwin myths and reveals new information: another ship sunk; the actual intent and nature of the attack; the precise extent of the Japanese losses.

The Darwin raid is usually portrayed as a wholesale disaster for the Allies, and a day full of military ineptitude. Carrier Attack shows the defenders were alert and fought with purpose. Arguably it was the Japanese that wasted much of their attacking strength, and in this way the Darwin defenders avoided a much larger catastrophe.

Carrier Attack provides a timely and fresh analysis of the raid. Most importantly, it draws on specially translated Japanese sources.

About The Author

Dr. Tom Lewis served for 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy, during which time he saw active service in Baghdad, where he led American forces, and East Timor. As a museum director he led two museums to new success; the Royal Australian Naval College Historical Collection at HMAS Creswell – for which services he received an Order of Australia; and the Darwin Military Museum, where he was Director for five years. He holds a master’s degree in Cold War Politics from University of Queensland and a Strategic Studies from Charles Darwin University.

Tom was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2003 for services to naval history. Further decorations include the Australian Active Service Medal; the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the United States Army Commendation Medal.

Tom is in popular demand from radio and television stations across the globe for his insightful comments on military history and how it intersects with modern-day life. He is a regular speaker to community groups, and appears often in TV documentaries, including lately with Neil Oliver in Coasts, and in Sir Tony Robinson’s Tour of Duty. He produced with Military Myths Defeated the documentary of The Borella Ride, the Anzac Centenary commemoration of Lieutenant Albert Borella VC, who rode 1000 kilometres in the Northern Territory Wet Season to sign up for the Great War. Tom was the Lead Historian for the Ride. Albert Borella VC, an Incredible Journey screened nationally in Australia on Channel 9. He was also Historian for the 2017 Northern Territory Government project The Territory Remembers, the commemoration of 75 years since the first enemy attacks on Australia. He lives in Darwin, Australia with his wife.

Peter Ingman is an acclaimed military history author specializing in the early Pacific War period.


Explanatory Notes
Chapter 1. Overview
Chapter 2. The road to Pearl Harbor and the relevance of Darwin
Chapter 3. Carriers - Japan’s new strike weapon
Chapter 4. Race for an Island: Timor
Chapter 5. Bomber Attack
Chapter 6. Zero Attack
Chapter 7. Allied Aircraft Operations
Chapter 8: The Bathurst Island Warning
Chapter 9. The Darwin Airfields
Chapter 10. The Fight in the Harbour I
Stokes Hill Wharf: Neptuna & Barossa
Major RAN ships: Platypus, the sloops and corvettes
Chapter 11. The Fight in the Harbour II
United States Navy at Darwin: Peary & Preston
Chapter 12. The Fight in the Harbour III
Merchant Ships
Hospital Ship Manunda
Miscellaneous Smaller Vessels
Chapter 13. The Fight in the Harbour IV
Boom Defence Squadron
Flying Boat Camilla & Launches
Chapter 14. The Army’s AA Guns
Chapter 15. The Philippine Blockade Runners: Don Isidro & Florence D
Chapter 16. The Second Raid
Chapter 17. Conclusions
Appendix 1. Aircraft Profiles
Appendix 2. Ship Profiles
Appendix 3. Ships Present in Darwin Harbour 19 February 1942
Appendix 4. Allied Aircraft Losses Darwin 19 February 1942
Appendix 5. Constable Law’s Damage Report
Appendix 6. Pearl Harbor and Darwin – a comparison
Appendix 7. Trouble on the Darwin wharves
Appendix 8. Myth: The Gribble radio warning
Appendix 9. Myth: The Heroic Robert Oestreicher
Appendix 10. Myth: Death Toll Cover-up
Appendix 11. Myth: The Raid was Concealed
Appendix 12. Myth: A Prelude to Invasion
Appendix 13. Myth: the Japanese pilots insulted their victims
Appendix 14. Finding the Peary
Appendix 15. Darwin Tides
Appendix 16. Darwin Sites of Significance – What Remains Today?


"The authors’ detailed analysis, partly based on Japanese records, offers a reasonable explanation as to why Darwin was targeted with such overwhelming force. They review the attack on a topical rather than chronological basis. Given the thoroughness of their research, this approach works well."

- Air Power History

"Carrier Attack: Darwin 1942 has become our go-to volume for the big raid on Darwin, and we can highly recommend it to other readers with an interest in Australia's Pearl Harbor."

- Stone & Stone Second World War Books

"For those of you seeking further detial there is a plentiful supply of appendices and the volume is well referenced and indexed. It is a book that should have a wide appeal to anyone interested in Australian History as well as those with a taste for military history"

- Naval Historical Review

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