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From Hell Hawks! author Bob Dorr, Mission to Tokyo takes the reader on a World War II strategic bombing mission from an airfield on the western Pacific island of Tinian to Tokyo and back. Toldin the veterans' words, Mission to Tokyo is a narrative of every aspect of long range bombing, including pilots and other aircrew, groundcrew, and escort fighters that accompanied the heavy bombers on their perilous mission.Several thousand men on the small Mariana Islands of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian were trying to take the war to the Empire—Imperial Japan—in B-29 Superfortresses flying at 28,000 feet, but the high-altitude bombing wasn't very accurate. The decision was made to take the planes down to around 8,000 feet, even as low as 5,000 feet. Eliminating the long climb up would save fuel, and allow the aircraft to take heavier bomb loads. The lower altitude would also increase accuracy substantially. The trade-off was the increased danger of anti-aircraft fire. This was deemed worth the risk, and the devastation brought to the industry and population of the capital city was catastrophic. Unfortunately for all involved, the bombing did not bring on the quick surrender some had hoped for. That would take six more months of bombing, culminating in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.As with Mission to Berlin (Spring 2011), Mission to Tokyo focuses on a specific mission from spring 1945 and provides a history of the strategic air war against Japan in alternating chapters.
Although it was the largest and final battle of the Pacific War, the Battle for Okinawa has long been overshadowed by other dramatic events in 1945. The books that have been written about it emphasize the role of infantrymen, armor, and U.S. Marines. This work takes a fresh perspective and focuses on the vital role played by the U.S. Army’s forward artillery observers—the eyes and ears of American artillery who were among the least recognized heroes of the war. According to Rodney Earl Walton, U.S. artillerymen matched Japanese gunners in intensity and surpassed them in effectiveness because their forward observers were able to provide a much shorter response time to requests for artillery support. Divided into teams consisting of four or five men led by an artillery lieutenant, these observers would spend three days on the front lines directing artillery against enemy positions, return to their artillery battery for three days, and then rotate up to the line of battle again. While trying to maximize the damage inflicted on the enemy, the men had to deal with the ever-present possibility of firing on their own forces. The ability to shift artillery fire throughout the battlefield was a new development in World War II, and its evolution is fully examined in the book.

Walton, the son of one of the forward observers on Okinawa, spent more than twenty years investigating what happened to his father and other artillerymen during the conflict. Interviews with the artillerymen and the infantrymen they supported are central to his story, which is filled with gripping and sometimes humorous accounts of what happened. The work stands as a stirring tribute from the “baby boom generation” to the “greatest generation.”

CARRIER STRIKE

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 1942

By Eric Hammel

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, a strategic naval action in the bitter Guadalcanal Campaign, was history’s fourth carrier-versus-carrier naval battle. Though technically a Japanese victory, the battle proved to be the Empire of Japan’s last serious attempt to win the Pacific War by means of an all-out carrier confrontation. Only one other carrier battle occurred in the Pacific War, in June 1944, in the Philippine Sea. By then, however, the U.S. Navy’s Fast Carrier Task Force was operational, and Japan’s dwindling fleet of carriers was outnumbered and completely outclassed. Though hundreds of Japanese naval aviators perished in the great Marianas Turkey Shoot of June 19–20, 1944, it was during the first four carrier battles—in the six-month period from early May through late October 1942—that the fate of Japan’s small, elite naval air arm was sealed. It was at Coral Sea, in May, that Japan’s juggernaut across the Pacific was blunted. It was at Midway, in June, that Japan’s great carrier fleet was cut down to manageable size. And it was at Eastern Solomons, in August,  and Santa Cruz, in October, that Japan’s last best carrier air groups were ground to dust. After their technical victory at Santa Cruz, the Japanese withdrew their carriers from the South Pacific—and were never able to use them again as a strategically decisive weapon. Of the four Japanese aircraft carriers that participated in the Santa Cruz battle, only one survived the war.

Following Santa Cruz and the subsequent series of air and surface engagements known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Imperial Navy’s Combined Fleet never again attempted a meaningful strategic showdown with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Though several subsequent surface actions in the Solomons were clearly Japanese victories, their results were short-lived. After November 1942, Japan could not again muster the staying power—or the willpower—to wage a strategic war with her navy. Once the veteran carrier air groups had been shredded at Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, Japanese carriers ceased to be a strategic weapon.

The Santa Cruz clash was deemed a Japanese victory because U.S. naval forces withdrew from the battlefield. That is how victory and defeat are strictly determined. But on the broader, strategic, level, the U.S. Navy won at Santa Cruz—because it was able to achieve its strategic goal of holding the line and buying time. Japan was unable to achieve her strategic goal of defeating the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a final, decisive, all-or-nothing battle. The technical victory cost Japan any serious hope she had of winning the Pacific naval war.

The “victory” at Santa Cruz cost Japan her last best hope to win the war in the Pacific.

Once again, author-historian Eric Hammel brings to the reading public an exciting narrative filled with the latest information and written in the edge-of-the-seat style that his readers have enjoyed for nearly two decades, in nearly thirty acclaimed military history books. As was the case with its companion volume, Carrier Clash, this new book is based upon American and Japanese battle reports and the recollections of many airmen and seamen who took part.

The incredible true story of the most spectacular aircraft carrier battle in history—World War II’s Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.

“Superb... the greatest naval air battle of all time finally receives the meticulous and comprehensive treatment it deserves.”—Richard Frank, author of Guadalcanal and Downfall

In June, 1944, American and Japanese carrier fleets made their way toward one another in the Philippine Sea. Their common objective: the strategically vital Marianas Islands. During two days of brutal combat, the American and Japanese carriers dueled, launching wave after wave of fighters and bombers against one another. By day and night, hundreds of planes filled the skies. When it was over, the men of the American Fifth Fleet had claimed more than four hundred aerial combat victories, and three Japanese carriers lay on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
 
Here is the true account of those great and terrible days—by those who were there, in the thick of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Drawing upon numerous interviews with American and Japanese veterans as well as official sources, Clash of the Carriers is an unforgettable testimonial to the bravery of those who fought and those who died in a battle that will never be forgotten.

“In his inimitable style, naval aviation’s most prolific historian comes through with a much-needed, comprehensive documentary on the greatest aircraft carrier battle of all time.”—Cdr. Alexander Vraciu, USN (Ret) Fighting Squadron 16, 1944
Night after night they stifled their fears and flew through flak and packs of enemy fighters to drop the bombs that would demolish the Third Reich. The airmen of the United States 8th Army Air ForceAmerican and British Bomber Command were among the greatest heroes of the Second World War, defying Hitler in the darkest early days of the war and taking the battle to the German homeland when no one else would.
Toward the end of the conflict, too, they continued to sacrifice their lives to shatter an enemy sworn never to surrender. Blasted out of the sky in an instant or bailing out from burning aircraft to drop helplessly into hostile hands, they would die in their tens of thousands to ensure the enemy's defeat. Especially vulnerable were the "tail-end Charlies"---for the Americans, which meant two things: the gunners who flew countless missions in a plexiglass bubble at the back of the bomber, and the last bomber in the formation who ended up flying through the most hell, and for the British, the rear-gunners who flew operations in a Plexiglas bubble at the back of the bomber.
Following their groundbreaking revelations about the ordeals suffered by Allied prisoners of war in their bestselling book, The Last Escape, John Nichol and Tony Rennell tell the astonishing and deeply moving story of the controversial last battles in the skies of Germany through the eyes of the forgotten heroes who fought them.

"This is the best account that has been written of the heroic American and British bomber crews . . . the best of its kind."
---George McGovern

"Rivaling the best of Stephen Ambrose's work, Tail-End Charlies gives a breathtakingly intimate look at the lives, loves, and deaths of the brave airmen of the greatest generation. This fascinating book is as valuable for its stories of joyous life on the ground as it is for its sobering tales of death in the air. You see the whole picture of the war here from the eyes of the strong young men who fought it."
---Walter J. Boyne, bestselling author of Beyond the Wild Blue

"Adds new dimensions to the saga of the air war in Europe. The eyewitness accounts, reported within the context of the battle against Nazi Germany, provide a sense of the ordeals, the terror, the gore, and the heroism of ordinary men thrust into the savagery of aerial combat."
---Gerald Astor, author of The Mighty Eighth

In this gripping, page-turning account, Sam Moses has told a story in the tradition of Sebastian Junger’s A Perfect Storm, Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers, and Hampton Sides’s Ghost Soldiers. It’s a story about the heroism of two men in battle at sea during World War II, and one woman fleeing Nazi Norway with her child. It’s about how courage can change the course of history.

AT ALL COSTS: How a Crippled Ship and Two American Merchant Marines Turned the Tide of World War II is the astonishing untold account, with original historical reporting, of how two men faced unfathomable danger to help save the island of Malta, Churchill’s crux of the war.

In 1942, the tiny island of Malta was the most heavily bombed place on earth. Hitler needed Malta as a stepping-stone to get to the oil in Iraq and Iran (Persia at the time). Blockaded by sea, Malta was running on empty, in food, fuel and ammunition. Axis U-boats and dive-bombers made supply convoys to Malta more like suicide missions. In this last-hope convoy, 50 warships escorted 13 freighters carrying aviation fuel, and a single critical tanker, the SS Ohio, with 107,000 barrels of oil from Texas. Winston Churchill had traveled to Washington and asked FDR for the tanker–his prime ministership was at stake over this mission to Malta.

Relentlessly dive-bombed and repeatedly torpedoed, the Ohio suffered huge hits and was abandoned. Two young American merchant mariners– pulled from the sea after their own ship went down in flames–boarded the ravaged tanker, repaired her guns and fought off German and Italian dive-bombers, as the sinking Ohio was towed at 4 knots toward Malta with a tiny crew of volunteers.

Sam Moses’ AT ALL COSTS is a triumphant story of human bravery: fearless, selfless acts by men determined to save a ship and win a war; profound communal courage from an island under brutal siege; and leaders who understood the cause of freedom.
As chronicled in Silent Victory, Clay Blair’s monumental history of United States submarine operations in World War II, the submarine war against Japan was a relatively little known war-within-a-war. It was waged by an initially small but expanding force of boats that eventually made more than 1,400 war patrols and sank almost 1,400 Japanese merchant ships and naval vessels. Many American submarines carved out enviable records, including USS Guardfish, the subject of Claude Conner’s remarkable memoir of service aboard a US fleet boat as an enlisted man. Conner, who served as a Radar Technician, weaves a compelling tale of his service during several war patrols in the Pacific Theater against the Japanese. His firsthand account spans the spectrum in detail and emotion, describing everything from humorous personal incidents to the boat’s bone crushing battle against the sea; the thrill of sending an enemy ship, to the bottom of the deathly terror of being trapped in a flooding conning tower. A significant portion of Conner’s reminiscence describes the friendly-fire sinking of USS Extractor, which came about when Guardfish’s skipper mistook the ship for a Japanese submarine. Along with the tragic sinking, Conner offers important information about Extractor and her crew, several detailed firsthand recollections of survivors, and an engrossing account of the Court of Inquiry that followed and for which Conner testified as a witness. Nothing Friendly in the Vicinity is a fresh and compelling account of an enlisted man’s experiences during the hellish submarine war against Japan, and recognized today as a classic of the genre.
As the twentieth century closed, the veterans of its defining war passed away at a rate of a thousand per day. Fortunately, D-Day paratrooper Joseph Beyrle met author Thomas H. Taylor in time to record Behind Hitler's Lines, the true story of the first American paratrooper to land in Normandy and the only soldier to fight for both the United States and the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. It is a story of battle, followed by a succession of captures, escapes, recaptures, and re-escapes, then battle once more, in the final months of fighting on the Eastern Front. For these unique experiences, both President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin honored Joe Beyrle on the fiftieth anniversary of V-E Day. Beyrle did not strive to be a part of history, but history kept visiting him. Twice before the invasion he parachuted into Normandy, bearing gold for the French resistance. D Day resulted in his capture, and he was mistaken for a German line-crosser - a soldier who had, in fact, died in the attempt. Eventually Joe was held under guard at the American embassy in Moscow, suspected of being a Nazi assassin. Fingerprints saved him, confirming that he'd been wounded five times, and that he bore a safe-conduct pass written by marshal Zhukov after the Wehrmacht wrested Joe, at gunpoint, from execution by the Gestapo. In the ruins of Warsaw his life was saved again, this time by Polish nuns. Some of Joe's story is in his own words - a voice that will be among the last and best we hear firsthand from World War II.
This is a fascinating new account of how diplomacy and politics gave way to military strategy and warfare in the Pacific.

Presenting previously unpublished photographs, interviews with veterans, newly commissioned maps and new translations of Japanese sources, this book freshly examines the key events in the fight for the Pacific.

Detailing the background to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor it shows how the decision-makers in Washington, following consultation with the leaders of Britain, Australia and New Zealand, moved to stop Japan from its drive toward Australia by initiating a counterthrust in the Solomon Islands.

It also shows how qualities and character of leadership are crucial to winning wars, detailing how Admiral Ernest J. King managed to commit the Marine Corps to ground action in the South Pacific six months earlier than originally planned, by ignoring the Roosevelt’s commitment to defeat Germany prior to fighting Japan, and by outmaneuvering Gen. Douglas MacArthur for leadership. It also explains how Marines under Maj. Gen. A.A. Vandegrift, despite inadequate logistical support, managed to prevail in the Americans’ first ground campaign of World War II, making Japan’s ultimate defeat inevitable.

In addition to recounting these key events, it traces how censorship and patriotism influenced the reporting of the conflict in America, how Hollywood films further shaped public opinion by portraying the significant events in particular ways, and how certain crucial decisions such as the early bombing raid of Tokyo, and giving Douglas MacArthur command of the war effort in Australia, were "political" rather than "strategic," and were made to foster morale rather than to gain any military advantage.

This book will be of great interest to all students and scholars of Military History, and to all readers with a general interest in World War II, particularly in the conflicts of the Pacific, Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal.

In late 1941, President Roosevelt agonized over the rapid advances of the Japanese forces in Asia; they seemed unstoppable. He foresaw their intentions of taking India and linking up with the two other Axis Powers, Germany and Italy, in an attempt to conquer the Eastern Hemisphere. US naval forces had been surprised and diminished in Pearl Harbor and the army was not only outnumbered but also ill-prepared to take on the invading hoards. One of Roosevelts few options was to form a defensive line on the eastern side of the Patkai and Himalayan Ranges; there, he could look for support from the Chinese and Burmese. It was the only defense to a Japanese invasion of India. To support and supply the troops who were fighting in hostile jungle terrain, where overland routes had been cut off, he desperately needed to set up an air supply from Eastern India. His problem was lack of aircraft and experienced pilots to fly the dangerous Hump, over the worlds highest mountains. Hence the inception of Operation Seven Alpha, a plan to enlist the aircraft - DC-3s - and the pilots - veterans of World War One - of American Airlines. This newly formed elite Squadron would fly the medium-range aircraft in a series of long-distance hops across the Pacific and Southern Asia to the Assam Valley in India. They would then create and operate the vital supply route, carrying arms, ammunition and food Eastward to the Allied bases, before returning with wounded personnel. This is the story of that little-known operation, carried out in the early days of the Burma Campaign. The book is based on firsthand experiences of those who were involved, and it serves as a fitting tribute to the bravery and inventiveness of a band of men who answered their country's desperate call at the outset of the war against Japan in Asia.
From critically acclaimed military historian Gerald Astor comes Wings of Gold, the first account of how the airplane transformed the U.S. Navy and paved the way to victory in the Pacific in World War II. Astor tracks that fateful journey from its humble beginnings in 1910 when Eugene Ely flew the very first plane off the deck of a U.S. Navy ship to the unprecedented air combat missions that helped defeat the Japanese.

Few naval aviators in World War II realized that when they earned their wings of gold they were about to become test pilots for a whole new kind of combat. In their own words, these courageous fliers describe the life-and-death air battles that defined the revolution in naval strategy that rose from the ashes of Pearl Harbor, when fighter pilots watched in horror as Japanese carrier-launched aircraft bombed their planes and airfields into smoking rubble.

While following the pilots’ firsthand reports of air strikes and blazing dogfights across the islands and atolls of the Pacific, Astor explores the ways the U.S. Navy began its momentous transformation before the war. Later, the critical role of aircraft carriers in the stunning U.S. victory at Midway sounded the death knell for conventional naval warfare, yet the public, the press, the Army, and even the president’s advisors refused to recognize the new reality. In fact, only a few in the Navy understood that a new era had begun that would change the face of war forever.

The young Americans who fought the deadly duels against Imperial Japanese forces high over the Pacific gave everything they had to the war effort, and many made the supreme sacrifice. Wings of Gold pays tribute to their courage, daring, and selfless dedication. Vividly told, thoroughly researched, and filled with stirring accounts of the Pacific War’s greatest air battles, Wings of Gold is an important addition to the annals of World War II aerial combat.
A Mighty Fortress is the personal account of the Captain and crew of a lead bomber in the enormous formation raids made by the 8th Airforce during the last few months of the Second World War.

It is an extraordinary tale of heroism and bravery on the part of the entire crew of just one B17 amongst hundreds - but the one B17 that meant most to them.

Flying a total of 27 missions before the war came to an end in May 1945, Alling tells, with great restraint, the story of what it was like to be there, over the skies of enemy territory, constantly on the look out for German fighters; of the enormity of some of the raids they were part of and the consequences for those on the ground; of the planes around them that fell out of the sky under enemy attack, the horror and the determination to succeed. The book gives a unique insight into the lives of one crew of one plane as the War neared its end.

Charles B. Alling received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters during the Second World War. He graduated from Yale University in 1947. In 1988, he retired and studied Ethics at Oxford University Graduate School in England. In 1989, he founded the Alling Institute for Ethics. The institute is affiliated with The Foundation for Leadership and Ethics in New York City of which Alling is Chairman Emeritus. Alling serves on the Board of Visitors of the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, an appointment by former Secretary of Defense, Bill Cohen. He lives in Kennebunk, Maine.

“In a fascinating way, Chuck Alling recalls his days as a pilot flying B-17’s over Germany. He is truly a member of ‘The Greatest Generation’ and from his book, written from the heart, people can learn a lot about the laughs and the tears of World War II.”
- Former President George H. W. Bush



A “meticulously documented” account that covers the RAF’s controversial attempt to end World War II by the aerial bombing of Berlin (Kirkus Reviews).
 
The Battle of Berlin was the longest and most sustained bombing offensive against one target in the Second World War. Bomber Command Commander-in-Chief, Sir Arthur Harris, hoped to wreak Berlin from end to end and produce a state of devastation in which German surrender was inevitable. He dispatched nineteen major raids between August 1943 and March 1944—more than ten thousand aircraft sorties dropped over thirty thousand tons of bombs on Berlin. It was the RAF’s supreme effort to end the war by aerial bombing. But Berlin was not destroyed and the RAF lost more than six hundred aircraft and their crews. The controversy over whether the Battle of Berlin was a success or failure has continued ever since.
 
Martin Middlebrook brings to this subject considerable experience as a military historian. In preparing his material he collected documents from both sides (many of the German ones never before used); he has also interviewed and corresponded with over four hundred of the people involved in the battle and has made trips to Germany to interview the people of Berlin and Luftwaffe aircrews. He has achieved the difficult task of bringing together both sides of the Battle of Berlin—the bombing force and the people on the ground—to tell a coherent, single story.
 
“His straightforward narrative covers the 19 major raids, with a detailed description of three in particular, and includes recollections by British and German airmen as well as German civilians who weathered the storm.” —Publishers Weekly
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