The Road to Big Week: The Struggle for Daylight Air Supremacy Over Western Europe, July 1942 – February 1944

Pacifica Military History
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THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK

The Struggle for Daylight Air Supremacy Over Western Europe, July 1942 – February 1944

Eric Hammel

The Road to Big Week begins with a thorough examination of American development of a strategic bombing doctrine from its earliest conception in the years after World War I. Balancing the demands of the ground army’s desire and need for air support and the visionary outlook of such early Air Corps leaders as General Billy Mitchell with the cash-strapped circumstances of  the Great Depression and the limitations imposed by the Congressional peace lobbies, the Air Corps was able to deliver a fully formed doctrine that could not at first be supported by adequate aircraft nor even a public acknowledgenent that the drive to perfect strategic bombing was even on. Before the doctrine or a fully functional heavy strategic bomber were quite perfected, the United States was drawn into World War II. Facing numerous obstacles unperceived during peacetime, not the least being simple bad weather, the early American efforts to mount a strategic bombing campaign in northern Europe nearly failed in the face of unsustainable casualties and ineffective strategic direction. Only the belated modernization of escort-fighter policy saved the strategic bombing force from failure and, indeed, formed the foundation upon which the strategic bombing campaign ultimately reached maturity and achieved success.

In this exciting and complete accounting of the transition from idea to near failure to ultimate success, distinguished military historian Eric Hammel sets out all the dots, then connects them in a conversational style approachable by all readers.

What the Experts Are Saying About THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK . . .

Eric Hammel convincingly demonstrates that the road to "Big Week" in February 1944 occupied more than twenty years. With a passion for objectivity and an eye for telling detail, he describes the U.S. Army Air Forces' evolution of the self-defending bomber as well as Nazi Germany's efforts to preserve and patch "the roof" over the Third Reich. Though the European war lasted another fifteen months, Hammel shows that by the end of Big Week there was no reversing the traffic on that sanguinary path. ——Barrett Tillman, author of Clash of the Carriers

Eric Hammel has done it again, with a lucid portrayal of the growth of American bomber theory from the 1918 Armistice to the crucial days over Germany when the Eighth Air Force broke the Luftwaffe’s back. Some books have told what happened during Big Week—Hammel tells you why, driving home points that are as vital today as they were in 1944. ——Col. Walter J. Boyne, National Aviation Hall of Fame Honoree

In The Road to Big Week, Eric Hammel cleverly connects a widely disparate collection of dots that are the development of America as the world's preeminent air power. These connections describe how the U.S. Army Air Forces—just barely in time—evolved in size and capability such that America's airmen prevailed in the iconic air battle that ultimately ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hammel's meticulous research and eminently readable style make this definitive work a compelling read. ——Lt.Col. Jay A. Stout, author of Fortress Ploesti

Eric Hammel has a special gift for combining musty war records and intimate personal accounts into a gripping history . . . If you think there's nothing new to learn about World War II, if you think there was never a possibility the Allies might lose, if you think one side was smarter than the other, The Road to Big Week will unnerve you and change forever your perception of what happened in those high, embattled skies. ——Robert F. Dorr, co-author of Hell Hawks!

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Publisher
Pacifica Military History
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Published on
Jan 27, 2010
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Pages
405
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ISBN
9781890988296
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / Strategy
History / Military / World War II
History / United States / 20th Century
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 Guadalcanal: Starvation Island

 Eric Hammel

 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

ACES AGAINST JAPAN

The American Aces Speak

Eric Hammel

In this superb, originally conceived offering, noted military historian, Eric Hammel brings us first-person accounts from thirty-nine of the American fighter aces who blasted their way across the skies of the Pacific and East Asia from December 7, 1941, until the final air battles over Japan itself in August 1945.

      Coupled with a clear view of America's far-flung air war against Japan, Hammel's detailed interviews bring out the most thrilling in-the-cockpit experiences of the air combat that the Pacific War’s best Army, Navy, and Marine pilots have chosen to tell.

      Meet Frank Holmes, who defied death in an outmoded P-36 while still clad in a seersucker suit he had worn to mass earlier that morning. Fly with Scott McCuskey as, single-handed at Midway, he takes out two waves of Japanese dive-bombers that are attacking his precious aircraft carrier. Sweat out the last precious drops of fuel in a defective Marine Wildcat fighter as Medal of Honor recipient Jeff DeBlanc bores ahead to his target to keep the faith with the bomber crews he has been assigned to protect. Experience the ecstasy of total victory as Ralph Hanks becomes the Navy's first Hellcat ace-in-a-day when he destroys five Japanese fighters over the Gilbert Islands in a single mission.

      A superb interviewer, Hammel has collected some of the very best air-combat tales from America's war with Japan. Combined with the four other volumes in The American Aces Speak series, this work will stand as an enduring testament to the brave men who fought the first and last air war in which high-performance, piston-engine fighters held sway. These are stories of bravery and survival, of men and machines pitted against one another in heart-stopping, unforgiving high-speed aerial combat. The American Aces Speak is a highly-charged emotional rendering of what men felt in the now-dim days of personal combat at the very edge of our living national history. There was never a war like it, and there never will be again. These are America's eagles, and the stories are their own, in their very own words.

Critical Acclaim for The American Aces Speak Series

The Marine Corps Aviation Association Yellow Sheet says: “The recounting of each story is done in the pilot’s own words. This is a powerful technique that draws readers into the action and introduces them to the world of the fighter pilot”

The American Fighter Aces Bulletin says: “Some of [the] episodes are well-known; others have never been written before. But each account delivers something intensely personal about the Pacific Air War.”

The Library Journal says: “No PR hype or dry-as-dust prose here. Hammel allows his flyers to tell their stories in their own way . . . Exciting stuff aviation and World War II buffs will love.”

Book Page says: “For those who have an interest in World War II, or those who simply like to read of drama in the skies, Eric Hammel’s [Aces Against Japan] is recommended reading. It is a must for any historian’s bookshelf.”

WWII Aviation Booklist says: “Hammel provides a veritable feast of aviation combat narrative. As always in this series, the entries [in Aces at War] have been carefully selected to provide the most entertaining ride possible for his readers. Easily the best series available on air combat! Get them all!”

CORAL AND BLOOD

The U.S. Marine Corps’ Pacific Campaign

Eric Hammel

 In only a lifetime, the long United States Marine Corps campaign across the Pacific Island has become the stuff of enduring legend. We are down to just a few Pacific Warriors who lived it and can still tell us about it from their own experiences. Now, in Coral and Blood, the critically acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel, who has specialized in writing about Marines in the Pacific, has compiled a brief but comprehensive history of the Marines’ island war. This book was conceived as a starting point for readers who have not yet read much about the Pacific War, but it is also designed to provide a simple yet complete overview for seasoned Pacific War enthusiasts who have not yet examined the island campaigns as an integrated whole. Perhaps by finding out about battles not yet examined, an experienced Pacific War enthusiast will find inspiration for moving on to new battles and looking for even broader understanding.

 Following the general outline of his highly rated single-volume pictorial, Pacific Warriors, Hammel begins with the development of the U.S. Marine Corps’ unique amphibious doctrine, then moves briskly into the Pacific War by enumerating the Marine Corps presence on the eve of war. Thereafter, every significant action involving U.S. Marines during World War II—from Pearl Harbor and Wake Island to Okinawa—is examined, including the role of Marine Air in the Philippines. In many cases, longer and broader discussions are presented in this volume than in Pacific Warriors.

 Experienced military history reader or not, you will almost certainly find something new and interesting in Coral and Blood. At the very least, you will find Coral and Blood, which weighs in at a respectable 96,000 words, to be valuable but not overbearing as a one-volume overview of the legendary efforts of Marines in the Pacific War.

"A teacher is never a giver of truth—he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst."—Bruce Lee

Within the pages of Striking Thoughts, you will find the secrets of Bruce Lee's incredible success— as an actor, martial artist, and inspiration to the world. Consisting of eight sections, Striking Thoughts covers 72 topics and 825 aphorisms—from spirituality to personal liberation and from family life to filmmaking—all of which Bruce lived by.

His ideas helped energize his life and career and made it possible for him to live a happy and assured life, overcoming challenging obstacles with seeming ease. His ideas also inspired his family, friends, students, and colleagues to achieve success in their own lives and this personal collection will help you in your journey too.

Sections include:On First Principles—including life, existence, time, and deathOn Being Human—including the mind, happiness, fear, and dreamsOn Matters of Existence—health, love, marriage, raising children, ethics, racism, and adversityOn Achievement—work, goals, faith, success, money, and fameOn Art and Artists—art, filmmaking, and actingOn Personal Liberation—conditioning, Zen Buddhism, meditation, and freedomOn the Process of Becoming—self-actualization, self-help, self-expression, and growthOn Ultimate (Final) Principles—Yin-yang, totality, Tao, and the truth This Bruce Lee Book is part of the Bruce Lee Library which also features:Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden DragonBruce Lee: The Tao of Gung FuBruce Lee: Artist of LifeBruce Lee: Letters of the DragonBruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human BodyBruce Lee: Jeet Kune Do

ACES AT WAR

The American Aces Speak

Eric Hammel

Adding to the first three volumes of his acclaimed series, The American Aces Speak, leading combat historian Eric Hammel comes through with yet another engrossing collection of thirty-eight first-person accounts by American fighter aces serving in World War II, the Israeli War of Independence, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War

As are the three earlier volumes, Aces At War is a highly charged excursion into life and death in the air, told by men who excelled at piston-engine and jet-engine aerial combat and lived to tell about it. It is an emotional rendering of what brave airmen felt and how they fought in the now-dim days of America’s living national history.

Ride with Flying Tigers ace Charlie Bond as he is shot down in flames over the Chinese city he alone has been able to defend against Japanese bombers. Share the loneliness of command as Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn decides the fate of the fellow Navy pilot whose F4U Corsair  malfunctions in a desperate battle over Rabaul. Feel 2d Lieutenant Deacon Priest’s overwhelming sense of duty to a friend as he lands his P-51 Mustang behind German lines to rescue his downed squadron commander. Share Lieutenant Colonel Ed Heller’s desperation as he fights his way out of his uncontrollable F-86 Sabre jet over the wrong side of the Yalu River. And join Major Jim Kasler as he leads what might be the most important air strike of the Vietnam War.

These are America’s eagles, and the stories they tell are their own, in their very own words.

A Picture is worth a thousand words In his Always Faithful, noted military historian Eric Hammel has assembled one hundred Marine Corpsa combat photos from the Pacific Theater of operations during World War II. Together these tell the story of the Marines’ costly victory over the Japanese. Over the years, innumerable historians, novelists, film-makers, and artists have attempted in various ways to capture what it was like to fight in the Pacific. In Always Faithful, readers are invited to take in the combat slowly, as it unfolds, image by image. Arranged by theme—from dramatic images of beach assaults to heartbreaking photographs of the injured and killed-in-aetion—Always Faithful seeks to capture the essence of the War in the Pacific and the core of what it means to be a Marine. Hammel has carefully selected each image in these pages, shown with only the barest of explanation: a short caption to describe the time and place. But even with so few words, each photograph is a complete message unto itself, a picture of truth showing a moment of humanity. Together, these images reveal what it means to be always faithful. Critical Acclaim for Always Faithful . . . “Eric Hammel is one of our most interesting and dedicated military writers.” —Tom Ricks, author of The Making of the Corps "Hammel's magnificent compilation is a "best of breed" that captures—like no other work—the sweat, grime, misery and terror that was combat in the Pacific. This is an effort that underscores Hammel's position as one of the subject's leading historians. Simply put, Always Faithful is the must-have pictorial of Marine Corps operations in the Pacific." —LtCol. Jay A. Stout, USMC (Ret), Author of The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe “While some readers may already be familiar with many of the photos collected here by Eric Hammel, all will find his selection and arrangement uniquely encapsulates the fighting in the Pacific. In Always Faithful, there are solitary moments where a Marine faces an unseen enemy and moments where brothers-in-arms stand shoulder to shoulder. It is instants like these that remind me of what it means to be a Marine.” —Col. William J. Davis, USMC (Ret), Executive Director of the MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk, Virginia “An inspirational and graphical account of Marines doing what they have always done when the Nation calls. Hammel’s selection of images peeks into the individual’s gut-level experience of combat in the Pacific through the eyes of those who “closed with the enemy”, from the assault on the beach through the ebb and flow of the fighting to eventual victory. A must for any military historian’s reference library.” —R.J. Sullivan, LtCol, U. S. Marine Corps (Ret) “Military writer Eric Hammel has used his broad research background to capture the essential essence of the Marine Corps Pacific War experience during World War II. The focus on the individual Marines pictured makes as strong an impact as any narrative would. This visual legacy is preserved and presented in a memorable manner and style. Semper Fi!” —Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps History Division Author of Osprey’s Marine Recon, Vietnam Marines, and U.S. Marine Rifleman in Vietnam “A powerful and evocative visual portrayal of Marines in close combat during the climactic battles of World War II. The images and illustrations are emotional, soul searing reminders of the human cost of the Pacifc Campaign. For anyone looking for a viceral understanding of battle, this book is not to be missed.” —John R. Bruning author of The Devil's Sandbox, Bomb's Away, The Battle of the Bulge, Jungle Ace, Ship Strike Pacific, and Crimson Sky “Eric Hammel has captured the true character of war in the Pacific, a fight to the finish, with no holds barred. The images in Always Faithful are far from the glorified portrayals of home front propaganda. They portray the gutsiness of combat—the filth, the stress, the pain of a lost comrade—in such a way as to be indelibly etched in the viewer's mind. Hammel’s selection of photos is spot on…I highly recommend Always Faithful." —Colonel Dick Camp USMC (Ret), Vice President of Museum Operations, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
The first Saturday in October 1973: A traditional Jewish Sabbath in Israel. It is also Yom Kippur, and the Israeli Defense Force is preparing to observe the holiest of the Jewish holy days.

 Meanwhile the Syrian army, the greatest achievement of the modern Syrian state, is massed on the Golan Heights. Together with newly arrived Soviet‑made equipment, 1,200 main battle tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 1,000 artillery pieces, and more than 100 mobile antiaircraft missile carriers are ready to strike in a lightning‑swift offensive that will drive to the sea and cut Israel in two.

 Duel for the Golan, the first book to be written on this aspect of the Yom Kippur War, is based on interviews with the participants from both sides of the fighting. As such it remain a compelling and powerful account of one of the greatest tank battles fought since World War II. It also provides the first in-depth analysis of exactly how and why an inferior number of Israeli defenders was capable of inflicting one of the greatest defeats in modern military history upon awe‑inspiring Arab armored forces.

 Here are the intimate details of tank-against‑tank fighting, whether it be during retreats, in ambushes, or on the attack. Here are the stories of incredible courage and individual initiative as the Israeli defenders strive to contain the unexpected Syrian assault. During the 100‑hour battle that saved Israel, every Israeli tank that was committed to the Golan fighting was hit by hostile fire at least once, and some commanders had five or six tanks shot out from under them.

 By the end of the war only a few days later, Israeli forces had counterattacked and advanced to where their artillery could hit the Damascus International Airport and other strategic targets with pinpoint accuracy. The Syrian army was virtually destroyed in the field, as were contingents from other Arab states such as Iraq and Jordan. How these remarkable turns of battle occurred is deftly laid out. This revealing account of a battle that changed the history of the Middle East is especially relevant today as tensions in the region increase once again.

MARINES ON IWO JIMA

A Pictorial Record

 

Eric Hammel

Volume 1: 310 Photos

Volume 2: 357 Photos

Even in as bloody and bluntly violent a war as Americans encountered in the Pacific, Iwo Jima, the ultimate expression of death and mayhem, stands out. It was in a class by itself, a meatgrinder smashed by a blunt instrument at exceedingly high cost. Relying upon a purely attritional strategy of “defend and die,” Iwo's Japanese commander oversaw the construction of thousands of concrete bunkers, pillboxes, blockhouses, and other fighting positions as well as multistory underground command centers and barracks, some as deep as seventy-five feet.

By D-day, February 19, 1945, most of these formidable defenses had been interconnected by eleven miles of underground passageways. Manning these positions were twenty-three thousand Japanese army and navy troops, many of them elite veterans of combat in the Pacific and China. Hundreds of mortars, artillery pieces, and rocket tubes had been painstakingly preregistered, allowing them to hit virtually any spot on the island with their first shot.

The defenders had bonded into a brotherhood born of the hardship they endured building bunkers and underground passageways in the extreme heat laced with sulfurous fumes of the volcanic island. In the words of one Japanese soldier, Iwo “was an island of sulfur, no water, no sparrow, no swallow.” Beyond that, each defender took an oath to fight to the death, to give no ground for any reason.

Following a seventy-four-day air and naval bombardment that the American high command believed had put the bulk of the Japanese defenders at least temporarily out of action, two veteran regiments of the 4th Marine Division alongside two regiments of the newly formed 5th Marine Division—eight battalion landing teams in all—led  the way toward the island. Aircraft, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers pummeled ground targets near and far from the landing beaches. As the first wave of Marine-laden amphibian tractors climbed ashore, nearby gunboats fired hundreds of rockets to suppress enemy fire.

Nothing happened. There was no return fire. No Japanese fired at the ships offshore, nor at the oncoming waves of amphibian tractors, nor at the Marines, who were surprised to learn as their feet touched down that all of southern Iwo Jima was covered in a thick mantle of black volcanic ash that offered no purchase for their feet or their shovels.

Shortly, when the nearly eight thousand newly landed Marines had stopped along the shoreline to regroup, every Japanese gun and mortar within range opened fire on the exposed invaders. The gunfire did not die for thirty-four of the bloodiest days of the Pacific War.

Marines On Iwo Jima: A Photographic Record is an enhanced and expanded ebook edition of the hardcover and trade paperback book entitled Iwo Jima: Portrait of a Battle. The much larger book requires that it be presented in two volumes, each with more than three hundred photos.

 

 Guadalcanal: Starvation Island

 Eric Hammel

 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

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