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Ten military fiction authors reveal in their short novels how war will be fought in the 21st century.
Pearl Harbor . . . Midway . . . Guadalcanal . . . The Marianas . . . Leyte Gulf . . . Iwo Jima . . . Okinawa. These are just seven of the twenty battles that the USS Enterprise took part in during World War II. No other American ship came close to matching her record. Enterprise is the epic, heroic story of this legendary aircraft carrier--nicknamed "the fightingest ship" in the U.S. Navy--and of the men who fought and died on her. America's most decorated warship, Enterprise was constantly engaged against the Japanese Empire from December 1941 until May 1945. Her career was eventful, vital, and short. She was commissioned in 1938, and her bombers sank a submarine just three days after the Pearl Harbor attack, claiming the first seagoing Japanese vessel lost in the war. It was the auspicious beginning of an odyssey that Tillman captures brilliantly, from escorting sister carrier Hornet as it launched the Doolittle Raiders against Tokyo in 1942, to playing leading roles in the pivotal battles of Midway and Guadalcanal, to undergoing the shattering nightmare of kamikaze strikes just three months before the end of the war. Barrett Tillman has been called "the man who owns naval aviation history." He's mined official records and oral histories as well as his own interviews with the last surviving veterans who served on Enterprise to give us not only a stunning portrait of the ship's unique contribution to winning the Pacific war, but also unforgettable portraits of the men who flew from her deck and worked behind the scenes to make success possible. Enterprise is credited with sinking or wrecking 71 Japanese ships and destroying 911 enemy aircraft. She sank two of the four Japanese carriers lost at Midway and contributed to sinking the third. Additionally, 41 men who served in Enterprise had ships named after them. As with Whirlwind, Tillman's book on the air war against Japan, Enterprise focuses on the lower ranks--the men who did the actual fighting. He puts us in the shoes of the teenage sailors and their captains and executive officers who ran the ship day-to-day. He puts us in the cockpits of dive bombers and other planes as they careen off Enterprise's flight deck to attack enemy ships and defend her against Japanese attackers. We witness their numerous triumphs and many tragedies along the way. However, Tillman does not neglect the top brass--he takes us into the ward rooms and headquarters where larger-than-life flag officers such as Chester Nimitz and William Halsey set the broad strategy for each campaign. But the main character in the book is the ship itself. "The Big E" was at once a warship and a human institution, vitally unique to her time and place. In this last-minute grab at a quickly fading history, Barrett Tillman preserves the Enterprise story even as her fliers and sailors are departing the scene.
Unquestionably the most successful dive-bomber ever to see frontline service with any air arm, the Douglas SBD Dauntless was the scourge of the Japanese Imperial Fleet in the crucial years of the Pacific War of World War II (1939-1945). The revolutionary all-metal stressed-skin design of the SBD exhibited airframe strength that made it an ideal dive-bomber, its broad wing, with horizontal centre section and sharply tapered outer panels with dihedral, boasting perforated split flaps that doubled as dive brakes during the steep bombing attacks
Osprey's title examining the TBD Devastator Units' short-lived participation in World War II (1939-1945). The first monoplane aircraft ordered by the US Navy for carrier operations, the Douglas TBD Devastator was designed to fulfil a requirement for a new torpedo bomber. Just 129 were built, and when it entered service it was the most modern aircraft of its type anywhere in the world. Its only real taste of action came on 4 June 1942 in the pivotal Battle of Midway, when 35 were shot down in a clash with Japanese A6M Zero fighters. The aircraft was replaced by the Grumman Avenger weeks later.
Fighting Squadron 11 was established at San Diego in August 1943, beginning a half-century record that spanned aerial combat in three wars from the piston to the jet age. First deployed to Guadalcanal, the 'Sundowners' flew Grumman Wildcats and completed its tour as the Navy's third-ranking F4F squadron in terms of aerial victories. Upon returning home, the 'Sundowners' transitioned to Hellcats in preparation for a second combat deployment. In 1944-45 the squadron flew from USS Hornet (CV-12), participating in the fast carrier strikes against the Philippines, Formosa and the Asian mainland. It finished the war as the Navy's 11th ranking fighter squadron with 158 credited victories. Redesignated VF-111 in 1948, the 'Sundowners' converted to F9F Panthers and scored history's first jet-versus-jet victory over Korea in 1950. After the armistice, the squadron flew FJ-3 Furies and F11F Tigers, before receiving the world-class F8U Crusader in 1961. During the long Vietnam War, the 'Sundowners' logged six deployments, scoring MiG kills in both F-8s and F-4 Phantom IIs. From 1978 to disestablishment in 1995, the 'Sundowners' flew F-14 Tomcats from USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and Carl Vinson (CVN-70), completing a record of 37 deployments from 17 flattops in its 52-year career. From World War 2 until after the Cold War, the 'Sundowners' established an unsurpassed record 'at the tip of the spear' in naval aviation history.
WHIRLWIND is the first book to tell the complete, awe-inspiring story of the Allied air war against Japan--the most important strategic bombing campaign in history. From the audacious Doolittle raid in 1942 to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, award-winning historian Barrett Tillman recounts the saga from the perspectives of American and British aircrews who flew unprecedented missions over thousands of miles of ocean, as well as of the generals and admirals who commanded them. Whether describing the experiences of bomber crews based in China or the Marianas, fighter pilots on Iwo Jima, or carrier aviators at sea, Tillman provides vivid details of the lives of the fliers and their support personnel. Whirlwind takes readers into the cockpits and gun turrets of the mighty B-29 Superfortress, the largest bomber built up to that time. Tillman dramatically re-creates the sweep of wartime emotions that crews endured on fifteen-hour missions, grappling with the extreme tedium of cramped spaces and with adrenaline spikes in flak-studded skies, knowing that a bailout would put them at the mercy of a merciless enemy or an unforgiving sea. A major character is the controversial and brilliant General Curtis LeMay, who rewrote strategic bombing tactics. His command's fire-bombing missions incinerated fully half of Tokyo and many other cities, crippling Japan's industry while still failing to force surrender. Whirlwind examines the immense logistics and construction efforts necessary to support Superfortresses in Asia and the Mariana Islands, as well as the tireless efforts of engineers to build huge air bases from scratch. It also describes the unheralded missions that American bomber crews flew from the Aleutian Islands to Japan's northernmost Kuril Islands.Never has the Japanese side of the story been so thoroughly examined. If Washington, D.C., represented a "second front" in Army-Navy rivalry, the situation in Tokyo approached a full-contact sport. Tillman's description of Japan's willfully inadequate approach to civil defense is eye-opening. Similarly, he examines the mind-set in Tokyo's war cabinet, which ignored the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, requiring the emperor's personal intervention to avert a ghastly Allied invasion. Tillman shows how, despite the Allies' ultimate success, mistakes and shortsighted policies made victory more costly in lives and effort. He faults the lack of a unified command for allowing the Army Air Forces and the Navy to pursue parochial goals at the expense of the larger mission, and he questions the premature commitment of the enormously sophisticated B-29 to the most primitive theater in India and China. Whirlwind is one of the last histories of World War II written with the contribution of men who fought in it. With unexcelled macro- and microperspectives, Whirlwind is destined to become a standard reference on the war, on multiservice operations, and on the human capacity for individual heroism and national folly.
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