This concise book represents the story of a unique individual. Marion E. Carl was, perhaps, one of the finest aviators who ever lived - FULL STOP. A nThis concise book represents the story of a unique individual. Marion E. Carl was, perhaps, one of the finest aviators who ever lived - FULL STOP. A natural pilot, he soloed after 2 hours of dual instruction. He later went on to become the U.S. Marine Corps' first fighter ace, seeing action at the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal during the Second World War. (A little more than 20 years later, Carl commanded a Marine combat air wing in Vietnam, flying several missions himself.)
Carl became known for achieving a number of "firsts." He became the first Marine to fly a helicopter, the first Marine to land a jet on an aircraft carrier, and he also set a number of altitude and speed records. Carl also was an outstanding test pilot, and by the time, he retired from the USMC (United States Marine Corps), he had flown 14,000 flight hours. ...more
This book represents one of the few available that was written by one of the many foreign volunteers who made their way to the new State of Israel toThis book represents one of the few available that was written by one of the many foreign volunteers who made their way to the new State of Israel to help defend it against its Arab neighbors during its War of Independence in 1948. For that reason alone, "The Desert Hawks" (which refers to the name the Arab ground forces gave to the Messerschmitt fighters in the Israeli Air Force) is a priceless resource for anyone interested in the early history of the modern Jewish State.
Nomis, who had flown fighters with both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) during the Second World War, had been doing some crop dusting and barnstorming work as a pilot for hire when the Israeli War of Independence broke out in May 1948. With the help of the Jewish Agency for Palestine in New York, Nomis is able to get to Israel, where for most of the year, he experiences limited combat service with 101 Squadron, flying Messerschmitts (which the Israelis had acquired from Czechoslovakia, where Nomis spent a few days learning to fly them) and Spitfires. In Nomis' own words: "I was sympathetic to the cause and the plight of the new Jewish State from day one and contacted the Jewish Agency - within five days I was aboard a Constellation which had been requisitioned by Jewish sources and scheduled to be smuggled to Czechoslovakia."
Nomis also conveys to the reader (from notes he had made at the time of his service in Israel) a sense of the daily lives of his comrades and people he had met both on and off base in places as diverse as Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jaffa.
"The Desert Hawks" is a rare gem describing a time in history in which most of its direct participants are fast fading away. For that reason, it is a book well worth reading. ...more
As cited by some other reviewers, this book, in terms of research and attention to detail, offers the reader a comprehensive history of the uphill strAs cited by some other reviewers, this book, in terms of research and attention to detail, offers the reader a comprehensive history of the uphill struggle that took place within the U.S. Army and Congress between the wars to establish an Army Air Corps as an essential and indispensible element in national defense. (This was a struggle not unlike what advocates of the aircraft carrier faced during the same era against the established "battleship minded" senior naval officer ruling class in the U.S. Navy.) ...more
Though an embellished memoir, "LAST TRAIN OVER ROSTOV BRIDGE" is a rare jewel, for it is one of few books of its kind written by a veteran of the AlliThough an embellished memoir, "LAST TRAIN OVER ROSTOV BRIDGE" is a rare jewel, for it is one of few books of its kind written by a veteran of the Allied intervention in Southern Russia (1919-20) in aid of the White forces fighting the Bolsheviks.
The book begins with the author celebrating the Armistice on November 11th, 1918 with his squadron mates in a private men's club in London. Aten, an American, came late to the war as a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was nursing a broken arm from a flying accident. Now recuperating, Aten is approached by his squadron commander, Raymond Collishaw (one of Canada's top aces) with an offer to join him and a group of other pilots who have volunteered to join a British military mission to Russia to assist the "White" armies under General Anton Ivanovich Denikin in their fight to drive Lenin and the Bolsheviks (also known as "Reds") from power.
Aten, somewhat at a loss as a lot of young veterans were whose lives were caught up in the war, eagerly accepts the offer. Via a roundabout route by train and ship and somewhat belatedly (owing to his long recovery period in hospital), Aten arrives in Southern Russia in the summer of 1919. For the remainder of the year, Aten is among a group of airmen flying missions (in his Sopwith Camel fighter) in support of the Whites near the Volga River and over Tsaritsyn (later renamed Stalingrad).
At the time of Aten's arrival in Russia, the Whites have the Reds on the run and are confident that they will oust the Reds and be in Moscow by Christmas 1919. But due to some key strategic errors in judgment, a series of political miscalculations, and disagreements between Generals Denikin and Wrangel (who was junior to Denikin and probably the best military leader the Whites had, widely respected and admired by the men under his command), the Whites become overextended and the Allies decided to withdraw their support. The Reds, in the meantime, despite heavy losses, receive infusions of arms and recruits who come to outnumber the Whites and push them towards the Crimea and the Black Sea.
This is a story full of adventure, interspersed with romance that ends in tragedy. The book also has a glossary of Russian words and phrases commonly used in "LAST TRAIN OVER ROSTOV BRIDGE", short biographies of the key people most often mentioned by Aten in the text, an excellent map of the region in Russia where Aten saw action, as well as several interesting photos of Aten and his squadron mates, and of Southern Russia during that period. There are also "Notes on the Text", which are very helpful in explaining, chapter by chapter, many key aspects of Aten's experiences in Russia. All in all, I very much enjoyed reading this book, which I heartily recommend to anyone who loves to read a well-written, gripping tale. ...more