Recommended Books

Started by _AH_DarkWolf, March 18, 2009, 10:10:38 PM

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      I had been thinking of starting a thread like this for awhile. Read any books on the air war during WWII that you thought were paticularly good? Why not let everyone know?

      A couple off the top of my head would be :

Combat Crew, by John Comer - This is the best first hand account of an 8th AF bomber crewman I've ever read. He was a Flight Engineer\Top Turret Gunner on B-17s in the 381st BG. He flew his first combat tour from about july of 43 to january 44. He flew during the period that was pretty much the turning point for the american daylight bombing campaign, including both the big Schweinfurt missions during that period. The stories he tells are really quite remarkable, you could make a movie about this guy.

VIII Fighter Command at War 'Long Reach', #31 from Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces series. - This book has the additional title "The official training document complied from the experiences of the fighter escorts of the mighty eighth". It's basically a manual for new pilots compiled from surveys taken by experienced 8th AF fighter pilots in the latter half of 43 and early 44. I think I read it was distributed to pilots in about may of 44. It's divided into 3 sections by a/c with the P-47 section being by far the largest followed by smaller P-38 and P-51 sections. Each pilot recounts their prefered offensive and defensive tactics for their a/c, some pilots talk about the flight and squadron dispositions their units use to provide the best cross cover and to protect the bombers the best. Some of the pilots are clearly answering the questions that were posed to them one by one, others just kind of wing it and touch on the matters they consider to be most important. It's basically chock full of do's and don't's all written by pilots, for pilots. The list of pilots who contributed to it includes some well known names.  Hub Zemke, David Schilling, Walker Mahurin, Robert Johnson, John Meyer, Duane Beeson and George Preddy to name a few.  It's a very interesting book to be sure.


"In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will" - Winston S. Churchill


oct of 2007 i went to the air force museum in Dayton Ohio and met a cool older guy near the B-17 they have on display.  he told me how he was the flight engineer/top gunner and that he had been on the Schweinfurt mission.  we talked for only 10 or 15 mins while he talked about superchargers and other engineering stuff, then he talked about Schweinfurt.  I dont think ill ever forget those few mins. "their were so many of em I removed the catch bags from the guns (to catch the empty cases) and moved the ammo boxes by my feet and fed them right in......when it was all done my tracers were corkscrewing out because i melted the barrels down...."  I didnt catch his name and the only other living person who was on his plane was there but i didnt talk to him.  he apologized for taking up so much of my time and left me standing alone under a wing of a JU-88 with a lump in my throat and a new found respect.  I had been playing this game for a couple years and have always loved the old planes, yet i never had that connection with what really happend til that day.

  the book i would like to recomend is Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller
its about the 8th air force and is alot like  The Mighty Eighth by Aster but i much preffered the one by Miller.  Read both, I did


At that awkward age where your brain has gone from " Probably shouldn't say that" to
"What the hell, let's see what happens"?  Me too.


I recommend this- already mentioned

Quote from: AH_Hornet on December 04, 2008, 01:52:34 AM
Good story.

The best book I've read is Samurai!, a biography of Saburo Sakai, one of the best Japanese Aces in WWII. He had 64 confirmed kills and flew over 200 missions without ever losing a wingman.

Japan destroyed most of the Allied Air Force in the Pacific in just a few months and Sakai's Tainan Squadron became known for destroying the most Allied planes in the history of Japanese military aviation. On August 7, 1942, 18 Zeroes received the order to attack Guadalcanal. The range from Rabaul was 560 miles, barely within the range of the Zero fighters. Sakai shot down 3 F4F's in this battle and then found 8 enemy planes in the distance, which he presumed to be F4F's as well ... he was wrong.

They were SBD Dauntless dive-bombers, with eager rear machine gunners. Sakai's Zero became a target for 16 guns. Never the less, Sakai shot down 3 SBD's before being hit in the forehead by a .30 caliber bullet, blinding him in the right eye. The Zero rolled over and headed upside down toward the sea. Unable to see out of his remaining good eye due to blood flowing from the head wound, Sakai's vision started to clear somewhat as tears cleared the blood from his eyes and he was able to pull his plane out of the steep seaward dive. Finally the cold air blasting into the cockpit revived him enough to check his instruments, and he decided that by using a lean fuel mixture he might be able to make it back to the airfield at Rabaul.

Although in agony from his injuries (the .30 cal bullet had passed through his skull and the left side of his brain, leaving the entire left side of his body paralyzed, and was left blind in one eye) Sakai managed to fly his damaged Zero in a four-hour, 47-minute flight over 560 nautical miles back to his base on Rabaul, using familiar volcanic peaks as guides. When he attempted to land at the airfield he nearly crashed into a line of parked Zeros but, after circling four times, and with the fuel gauge reading empty, he put his Zero down on the runway on his second attempt. After landing, he insisted on making his mission report to his superior officer before collapsing.

That's one helluva pilot.


We were talking about a book thread the other night, I kinda thought we already had one..


"In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will" - Winston S. Churchill


where DW??? Its a great idea... and Im very sure many of us have read some truely interesting books on flight.. ww1 and ww2.... having a list and a short synomptis  would really be nice, then all of us could share the good reading with all.????   One could just look into the list and then go to a library or book store and pick it up


Umm, scroll up Nimble. This IS that thread, started almost 4 years ago. If anyone has any suggestions, plop em down here.


"In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will" - Winston S. Churchill


whoops.... certainly will DW.... what I was thinking of is like a straight list with a short synoptsis  about the book..... but  scroll I shall  and thankyou (wavey) you are always a step ahead of this old codger...


~S~     "THUD RIDGE" by Colonel Jack Broughton USAF (ret)
They called their plane the "THUD", short for F-105 Thunderchief. Thud Ridge was the name for the line of hills they followed to the heart of Hanoi, a target more heavily defended than Berlin during WW2. He carried a small tape recorder in the cockpit and much of the story is told through the actual comms of the pilots in combat as they try to avoid the Sams, fight off the Migs and in wounded planes head for the coast and safety.
I have this book and will gladly mail to anyone to read.
I love my country..It's the government I'm afraid of.



The story of the top secret B-17 mission to save London and possibly New York from German rockets. The near-suicide mission resulted in supreme heroism and it took the life of Joe Kennedy, Jr. and consequences no one could have forseen.

        "OPERATION OVERFLIGHT" by Curt Gentry

Francis Gary Powers the U-2 spy pilot tells his own story for the first time since his release from a Russian prison in 1962.
I love my country..It's the government I'm afraid of.


Thud Ridge is probably one of the best written war memoirs in history and a personal favorite. I read it in high school and never saw politicians in the same light after that. Awesome stuff.

I'm mostly in Vietnam era literature but  some other books I would recommend are:

The Blonde Knight of Germany - Eric Hartman's story.
The Greatest Aces - A collection of stories from German WWII aces (Lots of stuff about Adolf Galland... Especially the mistakes he made that got him shot down (Twice in 1 day).
Stuka Pilot - Very gritty but factual in the same vain as Thud Ridge.

Post War era:
Spad Pilot - A collection of stories about the men who flew the AD-4, and later, the A-1 Skyraider.
Chickenhawk - Great read about the Vietnam helicopter war through the eyes of a Huey pilot.
On Yankee Station - A collection of stories of carrier operations during the Vietnam war.
The Heart of a Man - This is the diary of an A-4 Skyhawk pilot published by his wife after he was shot down over Vietnam. Very very gritty stuff but honest about how things were.

"I wish I was who I was when I wanted to be what I am today" - Jimi Hendrix


Curragh – the war's most bizarre POW camp

Name of book - Broken Wings.

During World War II, a Canadian bomber flying from a base in Scotland crashed in what the crew thought was the vicinity of their airfield. Spotting a pub, they entered to celebrate their survival with a quick drink but were stunned to see a group of soldiers wearing Nazi uniforms and singing in German. Even more confusingly, the Germans responded to their entry by shouting at them to "go to their own bar." The crew was soon given an explanation: after getting lost they crashed in the Republic of Ireland... and now they were captured, just like the Jerries.

Having negligible military power, Ireland was a neutral nation during the war; Prime Minister Éamon de Valera went to great lengths to maintain that neutrality. As part of this policy, he made a deal with both the British and German governments: combatants of either country could be detained if found in Ireland and interned there for the duration of the war. Technically, the men were not prisoners of war but "guests of the State," with an obligation on the state to prevent them from returning to the war. A 19th century military camp named Curragh Camp or "K-Lines" was designated to hold "guests" of both nationalities – along with a much higher number of Irish citizens who were imprisoned because they were considered a threat to the country's neutrality, such as IRA men and pro-Nazi activists.

At first, authorities looked the other way when British aircraft crashed or emergency landed in Ireland, allowing the crews to make their way home. The appearance of a German aircrew in 1940, however, forced them to start taking their job seriously. Lieutenant Kurt Mollenhauer's Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor aircraft was taking meteorological readings off the Irish coast when they got lost in the mist and hit a mountain, with two crewmen suffering injuries.

They were captured and taken to Curragh. They experienced some harsh treatment first but the Department of External Affairs quickly requested the army to improve their living conditions. With some Germans in actual custody, it was now also necessary to detain British pilots who landed in Ireland to maintain neutrality and the two sides had to be given the same treatment – preferably a lenient one to avoid angering Britain.

Being neutral, Ireland had no nighttime blackouts and spotlights made it much harder to escape at night.
Between 1940 and 1943, some 40 British and 200 German military personnel were taken to K-Lines, mainly air crews and men from shipwrecked U-boats. In appearance, the camp was a regular POW camp with guard towers, barbed wire and huts built on short stilts to prevent tunneling to freedom, though the fence separating the British and German sides was a mere four feet tall. Unlike in most camps, however, the guards had blank rounds in their rifles and the prisoners were allowed to run their own bars with duty-free alcohol.

The British bar was run on an honor system, with everyone pouring for themselves and recording their consumption in a book. Prisoners were also allowed to borrow bicycles and leave the camp, provided they signed a parole paper at the guardhouse, giving their word of honor not to escape and to return in time. Pub visits, with separate bars for groups of different nationalities, evening dances with the locals, fishing and golfing trips and fox hunts were the norm, with one English officer even having his horse transported there from home and others having their families join them in Ireland for the duration of the war. Some prisoners ended up marrying local girls and one German prisoner, Georg Fleischmann, stayed and became an important figure in Irish film industry.

Former German soldier Kurt Kyck with his Irish wife, Lilian White, after the war. Kyck spent most of his post-war life in Ireland.
While both sides enjoyed the chance to sit out the war in reasonable comfort and without dishonorable behavior such as desertion, the Germans were generally more uptight about their situation. Despite being given some money to buy themselves civilian clothes for trips to nearby towns, the preferred to stay in uniform inside the camp, planted gardens, made tennis courts, held exercise classes. On one occasion, they even set up a court to convict a comrade for treason, though the defendant couldn't be executed, as the Irish refused to furnish the Germans with a rifle and a single bullet. Sometimes, German prisoners sang Nazi songs just to piss off of their British co-internees. The two nations held boxing and soccer matches, with a historical record noting a German victory of 8-2 at one.

Escape attempts were rare. The Germans had no easy way of reaching continental Europe and the British had their own special problem, best demonstrated through the story of Roland "Bud" Wolfe. An American citizen, Wolfe signed up with the RAF before the U.S. entered the war, getting stripped of his American citizenship as a consequence. After flying cover for a ship convoy off Ireland, his Spitfire's engine overheated and he had to land in the Republic of Ireland, where he was taken to the Curragh. Unwilling to sit out the war, he made his move two weeks after his capture, in December 1941. One day he walked out of the camp, deliberately "forgetting" his gloves. He quickly went back for them and left again without signing a new parole paper, so he now considered his escape to be a legitimate one. He had lunch at a nearby hotel, left without paying and made his way to nearby Dublin, where he boarded the first train to Belfast in Northern Ireland. To his surprise, his superiors were far from pleased when he reported at his base and he was quickly sent back across the border to the internment camp.

The reason was that Ireland's neutrality was important not only to the Irish but to Great Britain as well. Though Churchill considered Ireland's refusal to fight a betrayal, he understood that a pro-Nazi Ireland would have allowed the Kriegsmarine to use its Atlantic ports and wreak havoc on vital convoys from America. In order to guarantee Ireland's neutrality, however, the British also had to play fair and prevent K-Line internees from jeopardizing the diplomatic status quo by escaping whenever they pleased. As a result, attempts were sparse: Wolfe tried to escape again only to be captured this time around as well, finally settling into the relaxed life of the camp. There was an aborted tunneling attempt and a successful mass rush on the gate, which the Irish decided was a "legal" escape and the men who made it back to British territory were not returned.

In 1943 it became clear that the Allies were slowly winning, British airmen were moved to a separate camp and secretly freed, while 20 Germans were allowed to rent residences in Dublin and attend the local colleges. All remaining German prisoners were repatriated after the war, ending the history of what might well have been history's strangest, and possibly most comfortable, POW camp.

The story of the British and German prisoners living together in Ireland, hushed up during and after the war, only came to light in the 1980s, when English novelist John Clive heard the story from a taxi driver who had served as a guard at Curragh, and decided to research the matter for a novel.

A video to go with the story -


Really Interesting , Hogan.




At the top part of this page there are numerous Manual Index threads with .pdf format scans of pilot's notes\manuals for various aircraft. Kinda interesting.


"In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will" - Winston S. Churchill



Wow, that's a huge collection.

Nice to see TD's posts again.



The 370th Fighter Group in World War II
in Action over Europe with the P-38 and P-51

Been reading this book for a few weeks now and it's really an excellent one. Little pricey and it's a big 450 page hardcover so it weighs a ton but it's really well done with a ton of photographs. In particular they do a nice job of commemorating the pilot's who were killed. Though the title says P-38s and P-51s they only flew the latter for the last three months of the war or so. The 370th was a 9th AF group so they were mainly doing ground attack stuff.


"In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will" - Winston S. Churchill