Fire in the Islands of Spice Volume 1

Air War over the Netherlands East Indies 1941-1945

William S. Cobb

This is a mini-series covering air operations over Indonesia from the Second World War to the present. The first book showcases the often-forgotten air-sea campaign for the strategic prize of the war, the oil and resources of the Netherlands East Indies.
Date Published :
February 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Illustration :
90 b/w photos, 10 color photos, 25 color profiles, 10 maps
No associated books available.


Fire in the Isles of Spice tell’s the story of the various air campaigns fought over the Netherlands East Indies from the start of the Pacific war to the present day. The first book of this mini-series covers Imperial Japan’s invasion of the Indies, a campaign which proved to be a masterful demonstration of air-sea battle against Allied forces which were unable to withstand the conquest of the Malay Barrier north of Australia.

Fire in the Isles of Spice documents Dutch and Allied defensive efforts during Imperial Japan’s conquest of the region and contrasts these responses against Imperial Japan’s seizure of air superiority over the Indies. With Allied and Imperial Japanese air strength roughly equal, Imperial Japan’s superior coordination and seizure of momentum during their offensive counter air campaign resulted in the conquest of the entire Indonesian Archipelago precisely three months from the start of the Pacific War.

The first volume of Fire in the Isles of Spice also touches upon Imperial Japan’s capture of Allied equipment at the conclusion of the campaign, the importance of Indonesia to Imperial Japan’s war effort, use of the Indies as an offensive base against northern Australia, and Allied air interdiction efforts against the oil resources of the Indies. In addition, carrier strikes against the Indies in 1944–45 are also be covered. The Australian invasion of Tarakan and Balikpapan and controversies prior these operations are also discussed.

This volume concludes with the Allied victory in the Pacific War, and Imperial Japanese efforts to maintain the Indies as base for the Imperial Navy and as a last ditch strategic redoubt in cooperation with Indonesian independence forces.

About The Author

William Cobb is a flight instructor in single and multi-engine airplanes and founder and director of the Pensacola Aerospace Museum. The author spent from 2008 to 2015 instructing for the U.S. Navy's Initial Flight Screening program and subsequently started his own commercial drone business, obtaining the first FAA Part 107 certification in his FAA region. Subsequent drone projects led to involvement in film work, and his establishing the Pensacola Aerospace Museum, an entity dedicated to honouring the memory of all those who ever gave their lives to flight.

More from this publisher