Osprey's study of the role played by F-8 Crusader Units in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). Known to its pilots as the 'last of the gunfighters' due to its quartet of Colt-Browning Mk 12 20 mm cannon, the F-8 Crusader was numerically the most populous fighter in the US Navy at the start of America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict in 1964 - some 482 F-8C/D/Es equipped 17 frontline units. It enjoyed great success against North Vietnamese Mig-17s and Mig-21s during the Rolling Thunder campaign of 1965-68, officially downing 18 jets, which represented 53 per cent of all Mig claims lodged by Navy squadrons during this period.
Although far better known for their exploits over the war torn skies of Germany and Italy, the USAAF's premier fighters, the P-47 and P-51, also made significant contributions to the victory against Japan from 1943 onwards. This book relates the appearance of the Allison-engined A-36As and P-51As over Rangoon from India in November 1943, the 1st Air Commando Group in China, P-47s over the jungles of New Guinea in 1943, escorting B-29s on long-range bombing sorties against the Home Islands in 1944-45 and elsewhere.
Although the Crusader was built first and foremost as a Navy interceptor, as has often been the tradition with US fighters, a photo-reconnaissance variant was also produced by Vought. The photo-bird's first operational test came in the autumn of 1962 when its overflights of Cuba alerted the world to the likely presence of medium-range ballistic missiles on the Caribbean island. The recce Crusader's next action came during the long years of the Vietnam War (1955-1975). This volume is the second of two in the Combat Aircraft series devoted to the Crusader, the first title (again by Peter Mersky) having covered the F-8 fighter variants, and their MiG-killing exploits, during the Vietnam War.
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.
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