This book offers a coherent and concise comparison of the relative merits and deficiencies of 2 of the finest fighter planes to see combat during the...moreThis book offers a coherent and concise comparison of the relative merits and deficiencies of 2 of the finest fighter planes to see combat during the Second World War. The Spitfire V (the most widely produced progeny of the family of Spitfires whose outstanding combat performance against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain during the summer and autumn of 1940 ensured its legendary status) arrived in Malta at a very crucial time in the war when a British defeat in the North African/Mediterranean Region seemed all but certain. Malta was the lynch pin that helped to keep Britain in the war.
On the Axis side, there was the Macchi C202 Folgore, the creation of the great Italian aeronautical engineer Dr. Mario Castoldi. From the time of its initial combat deployment with the Regia Aeronautica in the Spring of 1941 to its commitment (in larger numbers) in the Siege of Malta the following year, the C202 went head-to-head against the Spitfire V in some of the deadliest aerial combat clashes of the war above the Mediterranean.
Like the other books of the Osprey Duel Series, this one is rich in photographs and illustrative diagrams of both aircraft. The aviation enthusiast who delights in tales of derring-do will love this book. And even if the reader has only a general interest in the Second World War, "Spitfire V vs C202 Folgore: Malta 1942" can be easily read in the course of a few hours. (less)
Osprey has once again produced a high quality book about an outstanding fighter unit of the Second World War. In this case, it is VF-9, a U.S. Navy fi...moreOsprey has once again produced a high quality book about an outstanding fighter unit of the Second World War. In this case, it is VF-9, a U.S. Navy fighter unit, which was activated in March 1942 as part of the Navy's expansion of its naval aviation arm in the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. VF-9 took part in 3 fighter cruises during its wartime service. In its first fighter cruise, VF-9 was equipped with the F4F Wildcat fighter and took part in Operation Torch, the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa in November 1942, operating from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger.
After seeing limited action against elements of the Vichy French air force, VF-9 returned to the U.S., where it was re-equipped with the Navy's newest fighter, the F6F Hellcat, which was to prove itself more than capable of taking on the best of both the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) air arm. VF-9 trained extensively on the Hellcat, which it used so effectively against Japan during the American offensives in the Central Pacific (1944), attacks on the Japanese home islands (February 1945), and during the Battle of Okinawa. By war's end, VF-9 was credited with shooting down 250 enemy planes and produced 20 aces.
On the whole, this is a fantastic book, replete with a dazzling array of photos and illustrations.(less)
This is one of the best books about the P-51 Mustang's combat service in the Second World War that I've yet read. It is full of personal accounts (inc...moreThis is one of the best books about the P-51 Mustang's combat service in the Second World War that I've yet read. It is full of personal accounts (inclusive of official wartime combat reports) from pilots who flew the Mustang against the Luftwaffe and the Japanese in the Pacific. The reader is liable to get a vicarious feel of being at the controls of the Mustang, be it on a bomber escort mission over Germany, braving flak while strafing an enemy airfield or troop concentration, or in the thick of a dogfight. (less)
On the whole, this is a well-written book about one of the United States Army Air Force's (USAAF) veteran fighter groups, which, between 1943 and VE-D...moreOn the whole, this is a well-written book about one of the United States Army Air Force's (USAAF) veteran fighter groups, which, between 1943 and VE-Day, established a fine combat record during the Second World War. Unique among other USAAF fighter groups in Europe, the 78th Fighter Group flew, at various times, the P-38 Lightning, the P-47 Thunderbolt, and the P-51 Mustang.
The book also has lots of interesting photos and color illustrations of several of the planes flown by some of the 78th Fighter Group's most outstanding pilots. (less)
For all its conciseness, "Aces of Jagdgeschwader 3 'Udet' " offers a first-class treatment of one of the Luftwaffe's archetypal fighter units which --...moreFor all its conciseness, "Aces of Jagdgeschwader 3 'Udet' " offers a first-class treatment of one of the Luftwaffe's archetypal fighter units which --- with the exception of Poland and Norway --- saw combat on many of Germany's fighting fronts. There are plenty of photographs and illustrations which stand as a testament to the various fighter pilots (officers and NCOs alike - among them Günther Lützow, a prewar trained pilot and veteran of the Spanish Civil War, who went on to command Jagdgeschwader 3 and achieve renown as one of the first fighter pilots to achieve 100 victories) who flew, fought, and died over 5 years of war. On the whole, this is a very readable and highly informative book.(less)
In marked contrast to a previous aviator biography about an American fighter ace that I read earlier this year, "To Scale the Skies" was well-written...moreIn marked contrast to a previous aviator biography about an American fighter ace that I read earlier this year, "To Scale the Skies" was well-written and a delight to read, clearly showing the love and respect the author had developed for his subject --- Group Captain J.C. "Johnny" Wells --- while researching Wells' life and career. Wells, born in 1912 (the youngest of 3 children) on the north Norfolk coast of Britain, grew up in a close-knit community. His father was a fisherman who struggled to find steady work for himself and later abandoned Wells and his family for another woman, with whom he had a second family.
Wells at 15 applied for a position in the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Apprenticeship Program, which trained young men in the technical trades essential to the RAF. Of the 500 applicants who applied for the program, 200 passed the exam. Wells rated at 103. Thus began an Air Force career that spanned from the late 1920s (when the biplane was still very much in vogue) to the dawn of the jet age in the late 1950s.
From mechanic to air gunner, Wells qualified for pilot training in 1934 and a year later had earned his wings. Shortly thereafter, he was posted overseas to the Middle East, where he saw extensive service in Egypt and Palestine. By the time war broke out in 1939, he was back in Britain, serving as a flight instructor until the spring of 1942, when (after clamoring several times for combat duty) he underwent specialized training as a fighter pilot and went on to serve with one of the pioneering fighter-bomber/ground attack units in the RAF (No. 609 Squadron, which had previously flown Spitfires), flying the Hawker Typhoon, helping to iron out many of the bugs which threatened to have it taken out of service. Wells went on to have a distinguished combat record and after the war served in a number of administrative and active service roles in Libya, Germany, France, and Iraq.
The book also has several photos from Wells' personal collection which give the reader a palpable sense of how much military aviation progressed throughout his career. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading biographies of people who arose from humble origins to fulfill their ambitions and dreams. (less)