Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2013
Well done book with details that make in come alive for the reader. This is the story of how the US Army Air Force, as it was then, went from a small force of 45,000 men at the start of WW II to over two millions at the end and defeated the excellent German air force the Lufwaffe.

The Army Air Force leaders were Henry "Hap" Arnold, the highest ranking general, and commanding the Army Air Force and ably assisted by Carl "Tooey" Spaatz, Ira Eaker, James Doolittle, and others in the US and European theaters. The capabilities and efforts of the highest commanders are addressed.

He addresses many issues including building the air force which was a monumental challenge as most of the men were civilians before the war, and had to be inducted into the armed services and trained for their new jobs. He touches on the training aircraft used, however he devotes most of his aircraft discussions to the combat aircraft, heavy bombers in particular, and the fighters. He addresses pilot training and training establishment which essentially had to be invented, including aircraft, trainers, some civilians for basic, and aircraft spread across the country.

The pilot training effort was a monumental effort, but very successful in turning out thousands of pilots every month with over 300 hours flying, including time in the aircraft that they would fly in combat. He contrasts the US training effort in the latter part of the war with the German effort where they only had about 100 hours flying total before they were sent to combat. The German training was inadequate in numbers trained, and quality of pilots graduated. The excellent point is made about the training establishment producing enough personnel that it was possible to rotate men home after a number of missions, originally 25, later extended to 30 et. This was in contrast to the German approach of no rotation until dead or injured. He addresses the gunners and their training for the bombers.

The comparative qualities of the US heavy bombers, the B 17 and B 24 are discussed. He addresses the comparative qualities of the front line fighters, for the Germans, the MK 109 and FW 190, and the US P 38, P 47, P 51 and British Spitfire.

He addresses the first deployment to North Africa to support the invasion. It had its growing pains, as would be expected. He addresses the air war in the Med, and some incidents and men and crews involved so that it is more understandable to the reader. He addresses the Eighth Air Force based in England and their trials the interactions with the English. There is a chapter on things going wrong, especially the accident rate which was horrific.

The chapter on the German MK 163 Komet rocket propelled fighter, and MK 262 jet powered fighter are interesting. These aircraft were much faster than anything that the US had, and we really did not have an answer. We were fortunate that they were introduced so late into the war, if they had been there a year or so sooner, they might really have affected the war. All in all, well researched and well written history which is easy to read.
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