December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler—and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger...
What happened next would defy imagination and later be called “the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.”
The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.
Praise for Low Level Hell
“An absolutely splendid and engrossing book. The most compelling part is the accounts of his many air-to-ground engagements. There were moments when I literally held my breath.”—Dr. Charles H. Cureton, Chief Historian, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine (TRADOC) Command
“Low Level Hell is the best ‘bird’s eye view’ of the helicopter war in Vietnam in print today. No volume better describes the feelings from the cockpit. Mills has captured the realities of a select group of aviators who shot craps with death on every mission.”—R.S. Maxham, Director, U.S. Army Aviation Museum
The widely anticipated memoir of legendary ace American fighter pilot, Robin Olds
Robin Olds was a larger-than-life hero with a towering personality. A graduate of West Point and an inductee in the National College Football Hall of Fame for his All-American performance for Army, Olds was one of the toughest college football players at the time. In WWII, Olds quickly became a top fighter pilot and squadron commander by the age of 22—and an ace with 12 aerial victories.
But it was in Vietnam where the man became a legend. He arrived in 1966 to find a dejected group of pilots and motivated them by placing himself on the flight schedule under officers junior to himself, then challenging them to train him properly because he would soon be leading them. Proving he wasn't a WWII retread, he led the wing with aggressiveness, scoring another four confirmed kills, becoming a rare triple ace.
Olds (who retired a brigadier general and died in 2007) was a unique individual whose personal story is one of the most eagerly anticipated military books of the year.
151 combat missions
21 hard kills on surface -to -air missile sites
4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
1 Purple Heart
First into a war zone, flying behind enemy lines to purposely draw fire, the wild weasels are elite fighter squadrons with the most dangerous job in the Air Force
One of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written, Viper Pilot is an Air Force legend's thrilling eyewitness account of modern air warfare. For twenty years, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Hampton was a leading member of the Wild Weasels, logging 608 combat hours in the world's most iconic fighter jet: the F-16 "Fighting Falcon," or "Viper." He spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the border en route to strike Baghdad. Earlier, on 9/11, Hampton's father was inside the Pentagon when it was attacked; with his dad's fate unknown, Hampton was scrambled into American skies and given the unprecedented orders to shoot down any unidentified aircraft. Viper Pilot is an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat.
For as long as there has been sustained heavier-than-air human flight, airplanes have been used to gather information about our adversaries. Less than a decade after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, Italian pilots were keeping tabs on Turkish foes in Libya. Today, aircraft with specialized designs and sensory equipment still cruise the skies, spying out secrets in the never-ending quest for an upper hand.
Spyplanes tackles the sprawling legacy of manned aerial reconnaissance, from hot air balloons to cloth-and-wood biplanes puttering over the Western Front, and on through every major world conflict, culminating with spyplanes cruising at supersonic speeds 85,000 feet above the Earth's surface. Authors Norman Polmar and John Bessette offer a concise yet comprehensive overview history of aerial recon, exploring considerations such as spyplanes in military doctrine, events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2, the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, and the USAF's Big Safari program.
Polmar and Bessette, along with a roster of respected aviation journalists, also profile 70 renowned fixed-wing spyplanes from World I right up to the still-conceptual hypersonic SR-72. The authors examine the design, development, and service history of each aircraft, and offer images and specification boxes that detail vital stats for each. Included are purpose-built spyplanes, as well as legendary fighters and bombers that have been retrofitted for the purpose. In addition, the authors feature preliminary chapters discussing the history of aerial surveillance and a host of sidebars that explore considerations such as spyplanes in military doctrine, events like the Cuban missile crisis and the downing of Francis Gary Powers' U-2, the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, and the USAF's current Big Safari program.
From prop-driven to jet-powered aircraft, this is the ultimate history and reference to those "eyes in the skies" that have added mind-bending technologies, not to mention an element of intrigue, to military aviation for more than a century.
Vietnam, 1965: On July 24 a USAF F-4 Phantom jet was suddenly blown from the sky by a mysterious and lethal weapon—a Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM), launched by Russian "advisors" to North Vietnam. Three days later, six F-105 Thunderchiefs were brought down trying to avenge the Phantom. More tragic losses followed, establishing the enemy's SAMs as the deadliest anti-aircraft threat in history and dramatically turning the tables of Cold War air superiority in favor of Soviet technology.
Stunned and desperately searching for answers, the Pentagon ordered a top secret program called Wild Weasel I to counter the SAM problem—fast. So it came to be that a small group of maverick fighter pilots and Electronic Warfare Officers volunteered to fly behind enemy lines and into the teeth of the threat. To most it seemed a suicide mission—but they beat the door down to join. Those who survived the 50 percent casualty rate would revolutionize warfare forever.
"You gotta be sh*#@ing me!" This immortal phrase was uttered by Captain Jack Donovan when the Wild Weasel concept was first explained to him. "You want me to fly in the back of a little tiny fighter aircraft with a crazy fighter pilot who thinks he's invincible, home in on a SAM site in North Vietnam, and shoot it before it shoots me?"
Based on unprecedented firsthand interviews with Wild Weasel veterans and previously unseen personal papers and declassified documents from both sides of the conflict, as well as Dan Hampton's own experience as a highly decorated F-16 Wild Weasel pilot, The Hunter Killers is a gripping, cockpit-level chronicle of the first-generation Weasels, the remarkable band of aviators who faced head-on the advanced Soviet missile technology that was decimating fellow American pilots over the skies of Vietnam.
In the world of covert warfare, Special Operations pilots are notoriously close- lipped about what they do. They don't talk about their missions to anyone outside their small community. But now, Michael J. Durant and Steven Hartov shed fascinating light on the mysterious elite commandos known as SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) and take readers into a shadowy world of combat they have only imagined.
When Chuck Gross left for Vietnam in 1970, he was a nineteen-year-old Army helicopter pilot fresh out of flight school. He spent his entire Vietnam tour with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company flying UH-1 Huey helicopters. Soon after the war he wrote down his adventures, while his memory was still fresh with the events. Rattler One-Seven (his call sign) is written as Gross experienced it, using these notes along with letters written home to accurately preserve the mindset he had while in Vietnam.
During his tour Gross flew Special Operations for the MACV-SOG, inserting secret teams into Laos. He notes that Americans were left behind alive in Laos, when official policy at home stated that U.S. forces were never there.
He also participated in Lam Son 719, a misbegotten attempt by the ARVN to assault and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with U.S. Army helicopter support. It was the largest airmobile campaign of the war and marked the first time that the helicopter was used in mid-intensity combat, with disastrous results. Pilots in their early twenties, with young gunners and a Huey full of ARVN soldiers, took on experienced North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery gunners, with no meaningful intelligence briefings or a rational plan on how to cut the Trail. More than one hundred helicopters were lost and more than six hundred aircraft sustained combat damage. Gross himself was shot down and left in the field during one assault. Rattler One-Seven will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War and to all armed forces, especially aviators, who have served for their country.
Pappy himself was a living legend—he personally shot down twenty-eight Japanese planes, and won the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He broke every rule in the book doing so, but when he fell into the hands of the vengeful Japanese his real ordeal began.
Here, in his own words, is the true story of America's wildest flying hero, of his extraordinary heroism, and of his greatest battle of all—the fight to survive.
The riveting true story of the women who launched America into space.
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.
For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women--known as "human computers"--who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we've been, and the far reaches of space to which we're heading.
'They did not think for one moment that they would find anything but a burnt-out fuselage and a charred skeleton, and they were astounded when they came upon my still-breathing body lying in the sand nearby.'
In 1938 Roald Dahl was fresh out of school and bound for his first job in Africa, hoping to find adventure far from home. However, he got far more excitement than he bargained for when the outbreak of the Second World War led him to join the RAF. His account of his experiences in Africa, crashing a plane in the Western Desert, rescue and recovery from his horrific injuries in Alexandria, flying a Hurricane as Greece fell to the Germans, and many other daring deeds, recreates a world as bizarre and unnerving as any he wrote about in his fiction.
'Very nearly as grotesque as his fiction. The same compulsive blend of wide-eyed innocence and fascination with danger and horror' Evening Standard
'A non-stop demonstration of expert raconteurship' The New York Times Book Review
Roald Dahl, the brilliant and worldwide acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and many more classics for children, also wrote scores of short stories for adults. These delightfully disturbing tales have often been filmed and were most recently the inspiration for the West End play, Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales by Jeremy Dyson. Roald Dahl's stories continue to make readers shiver today.
When the skies of Europe blazed with the fiercest air battles in history, fighter pilots like Norman “Bud” Fortier were in the thick of it, flying four hundred miles an hour at thirty thousand feet, dodging flak and dueling with Nazi aces. In their role as “escorts” to Flying Fortresses and Liberators, the fighter squadrons’ ability to blast enemy aircraft from the sky was key to the success of pinpoint bombing raids on German oil refineries, communication and supply lines, and other crucial targets.
Flying in formation with the bomber stream, Fortier and the rest of his squadron helped develop dive-bombing and strafing tactics for the Thunderbolts and Mustangs. As the war progressed, fighter squadrons began to carry out their own bombing missions. From blasting V-1 missile sites along France’s “rocket coast” and the hell-torn action of D day to the critical attacks on the Ruhr Valley and massive daylight raids on German industrial targets, Fortier was part of the Allies’ bitter struggle to bring the Nazi war machine to a halt. In describing his own hundred-plus missions and by including the accounts of fellow fighter pilots, Fortier recaptures the excitement and fiery terror of the world’s most dangerous cat-and-mouse game.
From the Paperback edition.
The men of SEALs, PBRs, and SF called them saviors . . .
Created in 1967, the HAL-3 helicopter squadron--aka Seawolves--provided quick-reaction close air support to SEALs, PBR River Rats, and Special Forces advisers and their troops. During the five years of the unit's existence, the seven detachments of Seawolves amassed stunning statistics: 78,000 missions, 8,200 enemy kills, 8,700 sampans sunk, and 9,500 structures destroyed. These 200 men collected a total of 17,339 medals.
This is the story of one of those men. . . .
Taking enemy fire while braced against the rocket pod of a Huey gunship and shooting an M-60 freehand in 110 mph winds was just part of Dan Kelly's job in Vietnam. As a gunner in the all-volunteer Seawolves, he served with distinction until three bullets bought him a trip home. Here is his amazing story of the Seawolves--a harrowing tale of unsung heroism and undaunted courage in combat.
From the Paperback edition.
As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; JFK made it clear that platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was his favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived with a secret that needed to stay hidden from NASA. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, providing one another with support and friendship, coffee and cocktails.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragedy began to touch their lives-the wives continued to rally together, forming bonds that would withstand the test of time, and they have stayed friends for over half a century. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.
151 combat missions
21 hard kills on surface-to-air-missile sites
4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
1 Purple Heart
Sure to rank as one of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written, Viper Pilot is an Air Force legend's thrilling eyewitness account of modern air warfare.
From 1986 to 2006, Lt. Col. Dan Hampton was a leading member of the Wild Weasels, the elite Air Force fighter squadrons whose mission is recognized as the most dangerous job in modern air combat. Weasels are the first planes sent into a war zone, flying deep behind enemy lines purposely seeking to draw fire from surface-to-air missiles and artillery. They must skillfully evade being shot down—and then return to destroy the threats, thereby making the skies safe for everyone else to follow. Today these vital missions are more hazardous than direct air-to-air engagement with enemy aircraft. Hampton's record number of strikes on high-value targets make him the most lethal F-16 Wild Weasel pilot in American history. This is his remarkable story.
Taught to fly at an early age by his father, Hampton logged twenty years and 608 combat hours in the world's most iconic fighter jet: the F-16 "Fighting Falcon," or "Viper" as its pilots call it. Hampton spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the border en route to strike Baghdad. In the war that followed, he engaged in a series of brilliantly executed missions that earned him three Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor; he notably saved a U.S. Marine unit from certain death by taking out the surrounding enemy forces near Nasiriyah. Two years earlier, on 9/11, Hampton's father was inside the Pentagon when it was attacked; with his dad's fate unknown, Hampton was scrambled into American skies and given the unprecedented orders to shoot down any unidentified aircraft. Hampton also flew critical missions in the first Gulf War, served on the Air Combat Command staff during the Kosovo War, and was injured in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack.
With manned missions rapidly giving way to remote-controlled UAV drones, Viper Pilot may be the last memoir by a true hero of the skies. Gripping and irreverently humorous, it is an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat.
Please note that due to the large file size of these special features this enhanced e-book may take longer to download then a standard e-book.
Many pilots never made it out of 'Nam. This one did. Highly decorated Col. Bob Stoffey-- a Marine Corps pilot for over twenty-five years, who served multiple tours in Vietnam-- has seen and done it all. Cleared Hot! is his story-- a fast-paced, high-casualty flight into heart-stopping danger.
Full of vivid detail, this combat diary uncovers the real heroes of the Vietnam War, the behind-the-scenes Marine Corps pilots who helped our boys return home...then went back for more.
Includes eight pages of heroic photographs!
But for the Dauntless dive-bomber crews of the USS Enterprise returning to their home base on Oahu, it was a morning from hell. Flying directly into the Japanese ambush at Pearl Harbor, they lost a third of their squadron and witnessed the heart of America’s Navy broken and smoldering on the oil-slicked waters below.
The next six months, from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway—a dark time during which the Japanese scored victory after victory—this small band of aviators saw almost constant deployment, intense carrier combat, and fearsome casualties. Many were killed by enemy Zero fighters, antiaircraft fire, or deadly crash landings in the Pacific, while others were captured and spent years in POW camps. Yet the Enterprise’s Dauntless crews would be the first to strike an offensive blow against Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands, would be the first to sink a Japanese warship, and would shepherd the Doolittle Raiders’ bombing of Tokyo.
Not until Midway, though, would Dauntless crews get the chance to settle the score. In June 1942, Japan mobilized the best of its Navy to draw out the smaller American carrier fleet for a final showdown designed to destroy the U.S. Navy once and for all. What they didn’t anticipate was the gutsy dive-bombing pilots and gunners whose courage and skill would change the course of World War II.
Drawing on dozens of new interviews and oral histories, author Stephen L. Moore brings to life inspiring stories of individual sacrifice and bravery—and the sweeping saga of one of America’s greatest triumphs.
Throughout the Vietnam War, one focal point persisted where the Viet Cong guerrillas and Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) were not a major factor, but where the trained professionals of the North Vietnamese and US armies repeatedly fought head-to-head. A Shau Valor is a thorough study of nine years of American combat operations encompassing the crucial frontier valley and a fifteen-mile radius around it―the most deadly killing ground of the entire war.
Beginning in 1963, Special Forces A-teams established camps along the valley floor, followed by a number of top-secret Project Delta reconnaissance missions through 1967. Then, US Army and Marine Corps maneuver battalions engaged in a series of sometimes-controversial thrusts into the A Shau, designed to disrupt NVA infiltrations and to kill enemy soldiers, part of what came to be known as Westmoreland’s “war of attrition.”
The various campaigns included Operation Pirous (1967); Operations Delaware and Somerset Plain (1968); and Operations Dewey Canyon, Massachusetts Striker, and Apache Snow (1969)―which included the infamous battle for Hamburger Hill―culminating with Operation Texas Star and the vicious fight for and humiliating evacuation of Fire Support Base Ripcord in the summer of 1970, the last major US battle of the war.
By 1971, the fighting had once again shifted to the realm of small Special Forces reconnaissance teams assigned to the ultra-secret Studies and Observations Group (SOG). Other works have focused on individual battles or units, but A Shau Valor is the first to study the campaign―for all its courage and sacrifice―chronologically and within the context of other historical, political, and cultural events.
A Bridge Too Far is Cornelius Ryan's masterly chronicle of the Battle of Arnhem, which marshalled the greatest armada of troop-carrying aircraft ever assembled and cost the Allies nearly twice as many casualties as D-Day.
In this compelling work of history, Ryan narrates the Allied effort to end the war in Europe in 1944 by dropping the combined airborne forces of the American and British armies behind German lines to capture the crucial bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem. Focusing on a vast cast of characters—from Dutch civilians to British and American strategists to common soldiers and commanders—Ryan brings to life one of the most daring and ill-fated operations of the war. A Bridge Too Far superbly recreates the terror and suspense, the heroism and tragedy of this epic operation, which ended in bitter defeat for the Allies.
Though many have observed that when the shooting stops, combat heroes typically just fade away, nothing could be further from the truth for Boyington. Blessed with inveterate luck, the stubbornly independent Boyington lived a life that went beyond what even the most imaginative might expect. Exhaustively researched and richly detailed, here is the complete story of this American original.
From the Paperback edition.
General Doolittle is a giant of the twentieth century. He did it all.
As a stunt pilot, he thrilled the world with his aerial acrobatics. As a scientist, he pioneered the development of modern aviation technology.
During World War II, he served his country as a fearless and innovative air warrior, organizing and leading the devastating raid against Japan immortalized in the film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.
Now, for the first time, here is his life story — modest, revealing, and candid as only Doolittle himself can tell it.
From the Paperback edition.
Sharks of the Air tells the story of Willy Messerschmitt’s life, and shows how this aeronautical genius built many revolutionary airplanes—not excluding the Luftwaffe’s mainstay, the Me-109—and culminating in the Me-262. It describes how his various warplanes fought in Spain, Poland, France, Britain, the U.S.S.R., and over Germany, and it provides thrilling accounts of air battles drawn from combat reports and interviews with veterans.
This book also shows how Messerschmitt—like other geniuses such as Porsche, von Braun, and Speer— was affected by cutthroat Nazi politics, and describes his intense rivalries with other aircraft designers. It reveals aspects of his life never before made public, including his love affair with the beautiful Baroness Lilly Michel-Rolino, a rich aristocrat who left her husband to live with Willy.
And finally it shows how in Word War II Messerschmitt believed he was loyally supporting the Fatherland, until he realized too late that Hitler was a madman. Like many of the technical innovations of Nazi Germany in the war, production arrived too late in order to change the final outcome. If Messerschmitt had been given free rein from the start, however, Allied air superiority might never have occurred.
Author James Neal Harvey has been a pilot for more than 40 years and has owned a dozen aircraft (including a De Havilland Tiger Moth built for the RAF, a Stinson V-77 that flew in the Royal Navy, and a Messerschmitt Bf-108 that served in the Luftwaffe). Author of six previous books, his grasp of aero-dynamics informs the narrative, as he examines how Messerschmitt might well have changed the course of the Second World War.
INCLUDES 32 PAGES OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND 12 MAPS
Lords of the Sky is the “dramatic, fast-paced, and definitive" (Michael Korda) history of fighter pilots and aircraft and their extraordinary influence on modern warfare, masterfully written by "one of the most decorated pilots in Air Force history” (New York Post). A twenty-year USAF veteran who flew more than 150 combat missions and received multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses, Lt. Colonel Dan Hampton draws on his singular firsthand knowledge, as well as groundbreaking research in aviation archives and rare personal interviews with little-known heroes, including veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Hampton (the New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot) reveals the stories behind history's most iconic aircraft and the aviators who piloted them: from the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane to the Mitsubishi Zero, Supermarine Spitfire, German Bf 109, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Hellcat, F-4 Phantom, F-105 Thunderchief, F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and beyond. In a seamless, sweeping narrative, Lords of the Sky is an extraordinary account of the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend.
The creation of the first weapon in history whose operators can stalk and kill an enemy on the other side of the globe was far more than clever engineering. As Richard Whittle shows in Predator, it was one of the most profound developments in the history of military and aerospace technology.
Once considered fragile toys, drones were long thought to be of limited utility. The Predator itself was resisted at nearly every turn by the military establishment, but a few iconoclasts refused to see this new technology smothered at birth. The remarkable cast of characters responsible for developing the Predator includes a former Israeli inventor who turned his Los Angeles garage into a drone laboratory, two billionaire brothers marketing a futuristic weapon to help combat Communism, a pair of fighter pilots willing to buck their white-scarf fraternity, a cunning Pentagon operator nicknamed "Snake," and a secretive Air Force organization known as Big Safari. When an Air Force team unleashed the first lethal drone strikes in 2001 for the CIA, the military's view of drones changed nearly overnight.
Based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews, Predator reveals the dramatic inside story of the creation of a revolutionary weapon that forever changed the way we wage war and opened the door to a new age in aviation.
Memoirs of a P-51 Fighter Pilot
Robert J. Goebel
When Robert Goebel left home to join the Army Air Corps in 1942, he was a 19 years old and a high-school graduate. The only previous time he had traveled far from his native Racine, Wisconsin, was an epic trip in the summer of 1940, when he and a pal had ridden the rails to Texas and back to visit two of Bob's brothers who were in the service.
Even during his weeks in Pre-flight training, young Goebel found that he felt at home in the service, and he looked forward to the great adventure on which he had embarked out of a sense of patriotism and yearning to see the wide world. Easygoing and quick to learn, Cadet Goebel worked his way steadily through the Basic, Primary, and Advanced phases of military flight training, and found in himself an aptitude for flight. However, like nearly all of his comrades, Goebel could not learn how to hit a flying target with the guns mounted on the trainers he flew. Nevertheless, he—and they—graduated to fighter school and, after earning their wings and commissions, were sent on to join an operational fighter unit — in Panama.
The months of rigorous operational flying in Panama seasoned Lieutenant Goebel and his young companions, and made better aviators of them, but it did little to advance their gunnery skills. When a new crop of novices arrived, Goebel and his companions found themselves on their way to Europe to join the fight. They wound up in North Africa in the Spring of 1944 with orders to join the 31st Fighter Group in Italy.
Just as Goebel and his young companions were about to join the leading fighter group in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, the 31st turned in its British-made Spitfire fighters for new P-51 Mustang fighters. Within weeks, Bob Goebel had flown his first combat missions and had lost his element leader, who was shot down in a swirling dogfight.
But master the job he did. A steady succession of bomber-escort missions over southeastern Europe slowly and then more rapidly forced Lieutenant Goebel to settle in and master aerial gunnery and the mentally taxing high-speed dogfights in which he became engaged. At last, he shot down his first German fighter. And he advanced to positions of leadership, in due course leading the entire 31st Fighter Group deep into enemy territory. At length, he shot down a fifth German and thus became an ace—a Mustang Ace. And then he shot down three Germans in one day on a mission to Ploesti, Rumania. He flew to Russia and back, and supported the invasion of southern France. In the end, by September 1944, he had eleven confirmed victories to his credit and was one of the 308th Fighter Squadron's most respected combat leaders.
When he was sent home at the end of his combat tour, Captain Bob Goebel was not yet 22 years old.
The New York Post calls The Last Fighter Pilot a "must-read" book.
From April to August of 1945, Captain Jerry Yellin and a small group of fellow fighter pilots flew dangerous bombing and strafe missions out of Iwo Jima over Japan. Even days after America dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, the pilots continued to fly. Though Japan had suffered unimaginable devastation, the emperor still refused to surrender.
Bestselling author Don Brown (Treason) sits down with Yelllin, now ninety-three years old, to tell the incredible true story of the final combat mission of World War II. Nine days after Hiroshima, on the morning of August 14th, Yellin and his wingman 1st Lieutenant Phillip Schlamberg took off from Iwo Jima to bomb Tokyo. By the time Yellin returned to Iwo Jima, the war was officially over—but his young friend Schlamberg would never get to hear the news. The Last Fighter Pilot is a harrowing first-person account of war from one of America's last living World War II veterans.
As Jay Stout reveals, the air war had actually been in the planning stages ever since the victory of Operation Desert Storm, twelve years earlier. But when Operation Iraqi Freedom officially commenced on March 20, 2003, the Marine Corps entered the fight with an aviation arm at its smallest since before World War II. Still, with the motto “Speed Equals Success,” the separate air and ground units acted as a team to get the job done.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with the men and women who flew the harrowing missions, Hammer from Above reveals how pilots and their machines were tested to the limits of endurance, venturing well beyond what they were trained and designed to do. Stout takes us into the cockpits, revealing what it was like to fly these intense combat operations for up to eighteen hours at a time and to face incredible volumes of fire that literally shredded aircraft in midair during battles like that over An Nasiriyah .
With its dynamic descriptions of perilous flights and bombing runs, Hammer from Above is a worthy tribute to the men and women who flew and maintained the aircraft that so inspired their brothers in arms and terrified the enemy.
From the Hardcover edition.
World War II marked the end of an era; fighter pilots still flew by the seat of their pants, and George Loving recaptures the exhilarating world of aerial combat in all its stark terror and fiery glory. His first fighter was the famed Spitfire, hero of the Battle of Britain. By 1943, however, it was obsolescent and did not match up well against the first-line German Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs. Yet Loving survived 101 combat missions flying the Spitfire. In the spring of 1944, Loving’s 31st Fighter Group started flying P-51 Mustangs and was transferred to the new Fifteenth Air Force to escort heavy-bomber formations on long-range strategic strikes across southern Europe, including southeastern Germany. In the flak-filled skies over Ploesti, Vienna, Bucharest, Munich, and Stuttgart, where a number of the war’s fiercest air battles took place, Lieutenant Loving flew head-to-head against some of the Luftwaffe’s top fighter aces.
By the time George Loving completed his 151st, and final, combat mission on August 21, 1944, he had risen from a lowly second lieutenant and untested wingman to captain, group leader, and Mustang ace. Loving’s gripping account captures the savage action he experienced in all its intensity.
From the Paperback edition.
"Like Lauren Hillebrand's Unbroken…Target Tokyo brings to life an indelible era." —Ben Cosgrove, The Daily Beast
On April 18, 1942, sixteen U.S. Army bombers under the command of daredevil pilot Jimmy Doolittle lifted off from the deck of the USS Hornet on a one-way mission to pummel Japan’s factories, refineries, and dockyards in retaliation for their attack on Pearl Harbor. The raid buoyed America’s morale, and prompted an ill-fated Japanese attempt to seize Midway that turned the tide of the war. But it came at a horrific cost: an estimated 250,000 Chinese died in retaliation by the Japanese. Deeply researched and brilliantly written, Target Tokyo has been hailed as the definitive account of one of America’s most daring military operations.
In World War II, there were all too many ways for a fighting man to die. But no theater of operations offered more fatal choices than the skies above Nazi-occupied Europe. Inside of a B-17 Bomber, thousands of feet above the earth, death was always a moment away. From the hellish storms of enemy flak and relentless strafing of Luftwaffe fighters, to mid-air collisions, mechanical failure, and simple bad luck, it’s a wonder any man would volunteer for such dangerous duty. But some very brave men did.
Some paid the ultimate price. Some made it home. But in the end, all would achieve victory.
Here, author Travis L Ayres has gathered a collection of previously untold personal accounts of combat and camaraderie aboard the B-17 Bombers that flew countless sorties against the enemy, as related by the men who lived and fought in the air—and survived. They are stories of heroism, sacrifice, miraculous survival and merciless warfare. But they should all be remembered...
The Japanese defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal decided the outcome of the Pacific War. Guadalcanal was the classic three-dimensional campaign. On land, at sea, and in the air, fierce battles were fought with both sides stretching their supplies and equipment to the breaking point. The campaign lasted six months, involved nearly one million men, and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific.
When the campaign began on August 7, 1942, no one on either side quite knew how to conduct it, as Eric Hammel shows in this masterly account. Guadalcanal: Starvation hand corrects numerous errors and omissions in the official records that have been perpetuated in all the books previously published about the campaign. Hammel also draws on the recollections of more than 100 participants on both sides, especially the enlisted men at the sharp end. Their words bring us into the heart of the battle and portray the fighting accurately, realistically, andvery powerfully.Guadalcanal: Starvation Island follows the men and the commanders of this decisive World War II campaign in an integrated, brilliantly told narrative of the desperate struggle at sea, on land, and in the air.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Starvation Island and Eric Hammel
“A comprehensive history of the Guadalcanal Campaign . . . [and] a well‑balanced account. Well written and fast moving.” —Marine Corps Gazette
“Hammel has written the most comprehensive popular account to date . . . and exposes controversial aspects often passed over,” —Publishers Weekly
“Hammel takes the reader behind the scenes and details how decisions were made . . . and how they impacted on the troops carrying them out. He tells the story in a very human way.” —Leatherneck Magazine
“A splendid record of this decisive campaign. Hammel offers a wealth of fresh material drawn from archival records and the recollections of 100‑odd surviving participants. . . . A praiseworthy contribution to Guadalcanal lore.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Hammel’s ability to reveal both the immediacy and the humanity of war without judgment or bias makes all his books both readable and scholarly. —San Francisco Chronicle“Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed. —Library Journal
They put their lives on the line—every time.
In the Viet Cong-infested Mekong Delta, where small SEAL teams were always outgunned and outnumbered, discovery brought swift, deadly consequences— and a radio call for backup from the United States Navy’s very best: the Seawolves. The whir of approaching rotor blades signaled their arrival as they tore through the jungle at treetop level, gunners hanging off the skids, shooting M-60s, raining down their lethal mix of high explosives and incendiary death.
Seawolf Dan Kelly describes the origins of this extraordinary outfit. Put through a training program unlike any other, these men emerged to perform unparalleled feats of courage. The stories of these elite warriors capture America’s real heroes in all their guts and glory, and demonstrate why the Seawolves are known as the most successful and most decorated unit in the Vietnam War.
From the Paperback edition.
It’s 1942, just after the blow to Pearl Harbor and the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, and the United States is reeling. A group of raw US Army Airmen travels to the embattled American Air Base of Port Moresby at Papua, New Guinea. Their mission: to protect Australia, to disrupt the Japanese supply lines, and to fly perilous reconnaissance runs over the enemy-held strongholds. Among the men are pilot Captain Jay Zeamer and bombardier Sergeant Raymond Joseph “Joe” Sarnoski, a pair of swashbuckling screw-ups whose antics prevent them from being assigned to a regular bombing crew. Instead, they rebuild a broken-down B-17 bomber from spare parts and christen the plane Old 666.
One day in June 1943, a request is circulated: volunteers are needed for a reconnaissance flight into the heart of the Japanese empire. Zeamer and Sarnoski see it as a shot at redemption and cobble together a crew and depart in Old 666 under cover of darkness. Five hours later, dozens of Japanese Zeros riddle the plane with bullets. Bloody and half-conscious, Zeamer and Sarnoski keep the plane in the air, winning what will go down as the longest dogfight in history and maneuvering an emergency landing in the jungle. Only one of them will make it home alive.
With unprecedented access to the Old 666 crew’s family and letters, as well as newly released transcripts from the Imperial Air Force’s official accounts of the battle, Lucky 666 is perhaps the last untold “great war story” (Kirkus Reviews) from the war in the Pacific. It’s an unforgettable tale of friendship, bravery, and sacrifice—and “highly recommended for WWII and aviation history buffs alike” (BookPage).
Tom Clancy's previous explorations of America's armed forces, Submarine and Armored Cav, revealed exclusive, never-before-seen information an the people and technology that protect our nation. Now, the acclaimed author of Clear and Present Danger and Debt of Honor takes to the skies with the U. S. Air Force's elite: the Fighter Wing.
With his compelling style and unerring eye for detail, Clancy captures the thrill of takeoff, the drama of the dogfight, and the relentless dangers our fighter pilots face every day of their lives . . . showing readers what it really means to be the best of the best.
Fighter Wing includes:
Detailed analyses of the Air Force's premier fighter planes, including the F-15 Eagle
Exclusive photographs, illustrations, and diagrams
An insider's look at the people behind the planes and weapons
Combat strategies and training techniques used by the U. S. Air Force
“The key to victory in World War II Europe lay in wresting control of the skies from the Nazis. America’s most courageous pilots hurled their underrated P-47 Thunderbolts time and again against the Luftwaffe’s over-whelming power, and won. This is the true life story of one of the greatest Thunderbolt aces of all, Robert S. Johnson: his training, his early failures, his brushes with death, and his twenty-eight kills that helped smash the German juggernaut. Step by step, dogfight by dogfight, maneuver by maneuver, he details daring aerial exploits against monumental odds with America’s fabled 56th Fighter Group, a special breed of men who changed the course of history.”-Print ed.
DECISION AT SEA
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea is a full-blown examination in vivid detail of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13–15, 1942, a crucial step toward America’s victory over the Japanese during World War II.
The three‑day air and naval action incorporated America’s most decisive surface battle of the war and the only naval battle of this century in which American battleships directly confronted and mortally wounded an enemy battleship. This American victory decided the future course of the naval war in the Pacific, indeed of the entire Pacific War. Eric Hammel has brilliantly blended the detailed historical records with personal accounts of many of the officers and enlisted men involved, creating an engrossing narrative of the strategy and struggle as seen by both sides. He has also included major new insights into crucial details of the battles, including a riveting account of the American forces’ failure to effectively use their radar advantage.
Originally published in 1988 as the concluding volume in Eric Hammel’s series of three independent books focusing on the Guadalcanal campaign and exploring all the elements that made it a turning point of the war in the Pacific, Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea lives up to the high standards and expectations that have marked this author’s many historical books and articles.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea and Eric Hammel
“Hammel’s description of surface tactics, naval gunnery, and what happens when the order to abandon ship is given is vivid and memorable.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Hammel’s] detailed and fast-paced chronicle includes a number of incidents and anecdotes not found in the more prosaic official histories.” —Sea Power
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet was born in 1978, a state-of-the-art supersonic fighter and attack aircraft with a top speed of Mach 1.8, more than one thousand miles per hour. It was versatile, fast, and reliable, and no war machine in the air could match it. The marines adopted it first, followed by the navy, impressed by its incomparable ability to engage in close aerial combat while at the same time efficiently delivering explosive payloads to designated enemy targets. It became the aircraft of choice for the US Navy’s famous Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron in 1986 and served ably in combat from its first mission—America’s launched air strike against Libya that same year—through 1991’s Operation Desert Storm and well beyond. Yet the Hornet has always been shrouded in controversy, and while still in its planning stages, it sparked an unprecedented political battle that nearly doomed the miraculous machine before it could take flight.
Orr Kelly, the acclaimed military author who has notably chronicled the remarkable histories of the US Navy SEALs and other branches of America’s Special Forces, tells the fascinating true story of the F/A-18 Hornet—how it came to be, how it almost wasn’t, and how it forever altered the way our nation’s wars are fought.
Focusing on the crucial period from 1942 to 1945, Fire and Fury tells the story of the American and British bombing campaign through the eyes of those involved: the military and civilian command in America, Britain, and Germany, the aircrews in the skies who carried out their orders, and civilians on the ground who felt the fury of the Allied attacks. Here, for the first time, the story of the American and British air campaigns is told-and the cost accounted for...
The Black Aces. Their courage, ferocity, and instincts made them legendary in military aviation. Flying F-14 Tomcats, they played as much a part in recent US operations in Kosovo as did any air squadron in the theater, air force or navy, and probably more. Because of its superior performance, sophisticated equipment and the two-man crews who took it upon themselves to do something extra, the Tomcat and its aviators distinguished themselves over and over.
Forced to locate Serb fighters operating covertly in a mountainous land much like Afghanistan, with almost no help from ground spotters, VF-14 pilots and backseaters spearheaded new methods for the navy to pinpoint, identify, and destroy enemy troops and weapons. These were tasks that fighter crews had seldom had to do before. The Aces had to break rules and frequently go in harms way in order to be successful. And they performed so well that for the first time in aviation history, a fighter squadron - theirs - was awarded The Wade McClusky Trophy, the navy's premier bombing honor. The award, named for a World War II dive bomber pilot and post-WorldWar II admiral, had been won previously only by bombing squadrons.
Robert Wilcox spent two weeks with The Black Aces aboard the aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt and here provides a long-awaited, never-before-seen glimpse into the world of a modern navy fighter squadron. Wilcox takes readers into the cockpits as the pilots go out and attack targets while avoiding anti-aircraft weaponry. He takes us into the war room as they plan their strikes and into their cabins as they contemplate the danger they are facing. And the reader can't help but worry for these men as they head off into battle, can't help sitting on the edge of the seat as they try to land at night, in a rainstorm, with waves crashing against the ship, and can't help ducking with them as they dodge missile attacks. And in the end, it is impossible not to feel for these aviators as they question their own courage, or to cheer for them when they finally return safely.
Black Aces High is a story of fear and courage, mishap and success, fighting spirit and military innovation. It's a human story that goes behind the smiling, sunglass-wearing facade of aviators flashing a "V", the sterile, slow motion target video that has become a staple of Pentagon briefings, and the rock 'n' roll cowboy image of fighter crews seen in the movies. Instead, it is a story that shows who these aviators really are and what they do beyond what we know, a story which probably will be repeated again and again as our carriers continue to be deployed in the new, 21 century war our nation is fighting.
At the outbreak of World War II, America was woefully unprepared for a fight, though Europe was already years into the battle. Soon, though, America’s war machine was rolling out pilots, engineers, planes, and materials in astounding numbers. It was called the Eighth Air Force—and it would hit the Nazi juggernaut like a lightning bolt.
Launching a then-groundbreaking campaign of daylight bombing runs, the men of the Eighth would suffer more casualties than the entire Marine Corps in the Pacific theater. But they would also prove to be the most effective weapon against the enemy, taking out strategic targets such as munitions plants and factories that were vital to the German war effort and grinding them to a halt. In The Mighty Eighth, the men who fought in the greatest air war in human history tell their stories of courage and camaraderie as only those who were there can tell them.
The battle fought on Black Thursday stands high in the history of American fighting men. It will be long remembered, like the immortal struggles of Gettysburg, St. Mihiel and the Argonne, of Midway and the Bulge and Pork Chop Hill. Tens of thousands of our airmen fought in desperate battles in the sky during World War II. From China to the Aleutians, from Australia through the Philippines and across the Southwest Pacific, through the Central Pacific, in Africa and the Mediterranean, and across the length and breadth of Europe, American fliers engaged in combat with the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians.
In all these battles one stands out among all the others for unprecedented fury, for losses suffered, for courage. This was the battle on Black Thursday, Mission 115 of the VIII Bomber Command from bases in England to the savagely defended German city of Schweinfurt. It was a battle in which we suffered unprecedented losses, and a battle that we cannot in honesty remember as having produced the results we had hoped for, or that hurt the enemy’s war effort as much as we had believed.
Yet it is an aerial struggle remembered with great pride, for it demanded the utmost in courage, in skill, in carrying on the fight in the face of bloody slaughter. All these things, and more, make up the story of Black Thursday, of this book.
Which is why, after 24 years and over 5,000 flight hours with four armed services, Major Robert Curtis was so surprised at being alive when he passed his retirement physical. Starting with enlisting in the Army to fly helicopters during Vietnam, and continuing on through service with the National Guard, Marine Corps and Royal Navy, he flew eight different helicopters—from the wooden-bladed OH-13E, through the Chinook, SeaKnight and SeaKing, in war and peace around the world. During that time over 50 of his friends died in crashes, both in combat and in accidents, but somehow his skill, and not an inconsiderable amount of luck and superstition, saw him through.
His flying career began with a misbegotten strategy for beating the draft by enlisting. With the Vietnam War raging full blast in 1968 the draft was inevitable, so he wanted to at least get some small measure of control of his future. Although he had no thought of flying when he walked into the recruiting office, he walked out signed up to be a helicopter pilot. What he did not know was that 43% of all the aircraft sent to Vietnam were destroyed in combat or accidents. Soon he was in the thick of the war, flying Chinooks with the 101st Airborne. After Vietnam he left the Army, but kept flying in the National Guard while going to college. He was accepted at two law schools, but flying is addictive, so he instead enlisted in the USMC to fly some more. Over the next 17 years he would fly around the world off US and British ships from Egypt to Norway and all points in between. His engaging story will be a delight to all aviation enthusiasts.
Heinz Knoke was one of Nazi Germany’s outstanding pilots, and this dramatic record of his experiences, illustrated with personal photos, has become a classic among aviation memoirs. He joined the Luftwaffe at the outbreak of the war, rose to the rank of commanding officer, and received the Knight’s Cross. Knoke’s account crackles with vivid accounts of air battles; and captures his utter desolation at Germany’s defeat.—Print Ed.
For assault helicopter crews flying in and around the NVA-infested DMZ, the U.S. pullout from Vietnam in 1970-71 was a desperate time of selfless courage. Now former army warrant officer Tom Marshall of the Phoenix, C Company, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne, captures the deadly mountain terrain, the long hours flown under enormous stress, the grim determination of hardened pilots combat-assaulting through walls of antiaircraft fire, the pickups amid exploding mortar shells and hails of AK fire, the nerve-racking string extractions of SOG teams from North Vietnam. . . . And, through it all, the rising tension as helicopter pilots and crews are lost at an accelerating pace.
It is no coincidence that the Phoenix was one of the most highly decorated assault helicopter units in I Corps. For as the American departure accelerated and the enemy added new, more powerful antiaircraft weapons, the helicopter pilots, crew chiefs, and gunners paid the heavy price of withdrawal in blood. For more than 30 Percent of Tom Marshall's 130 helicopter-school classmates, the price of exit was their lives. . . .
From the Paperback edition.
The book includes all the main types, from biplane fighters and carrier aircraft to tactical bombers, transport aircraft, multirole fighters, strategic strike aircraft and stealth bombers. Featured aircraft include: the Fokker Dr.1 triplane, the legendary fighter flown by German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, ‘the Red Baron’, during World War I; the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Japan’s highly-manoeuvrable fighter that dominated air-to-air combat in the early part of the Pacific War; the tank-busting Il-2 Shturmovik, the most produced aircraft in World War II; the Harrier jump jet, a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fighter that has been service for more than 40 years; the B-2 Spirit bomber, an American precision strike aircraft used in recent conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan; and the F-22 Raptor, an air superiority fighter with state-of-the-art stealth technology that makes it almost invisible to radars.
Each entry includes a brief description of the model’s development and history, a profile view, key features and specifications. Packed with more than 200 artworks and photographs, The World’s Greatest Military Aircraft is a colourful guide for the military aviation enthusiast.
In 1948, only three years after the Holocaust, the newly founded nation of Israel came under siege from a coalition of Arab states. The invaders vowed to annihilate the tiny country and its 600,000 settlers. A second Holocaust was in the making.
Outnumbered sixty to one, the Israelis had no allies, no regular army, no air force, no superpower to intercede on their behalf. The United States, Great Britain, and most of Europe enforced a strict embargo on the shipment of arms to the embattled country. In the first few days, the Arab armies overran Israel. The Egyptian air force owned the sky, making continuous air attacks on Israeli cities and army positions. Israel’s extinction seemed certain.
And then came help. From the United States, Canada, Britain, France, South Africa arrived a band of volunteer airmen. Most were World War II veterans—young, idealistic, swaggering, noble, eccentric, courageous beyond measure. Many were Jews, a third were not. Most of them knowingly violated their nations’ embargoes on the shipment of arms and aircraft to Israel. They smuggled in Messerschmitt fighters from Czechoslovakia, painting over swastikas with Israeli stars. Defying their own countries’ strict laws, the airmen risked everything—their lives, careers, citizenship—to fight for Israel.
They were a small group, fewer than 150. In the crucible of war they became brothers in a righteous cause. They flew, fought, died, and, against all odds, helped save a new nation. The saga of the volunteer airmen in Israel’s war of independence stands as one of the most stirring—and untold—war stories of the past century.