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The Americans lagged behind their European contemporaries in military aviation in the late 1930s, and it took the Battle of Britain to awaken an isolated America to the necessity of having aircraft that could defend targets against nighttime attack by bomber aircraft. With the help of the RAF, the importance of creating such a specialized fighter force was given top priority. This book examines the numerous aircraft types that were used by the US in this role, beginning with the early 'stop-gap' conversions like the TBM Avenger, Lockheed Ventura and the A-20 Havoc (P-70). It goes on to detail the combat history of the newer and radar equipped Hellcats, Corsairs and Black Widows that were designed to seek out enemy aircraft (both German and Japanese) in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. It was these aircraft that registered most of the kills made by the Navy, Marine Corps and USAAF in 1944-45. Finally there are additional accounts from the American pilots who spent time on the frontline on exchange tours with the RAF in the ETO/MTO, learning the intricacies of flying radar-equipped fighters like the Mosquito and Beaufighter at night, prior to the USAAF taking receipt of the much-delayed P-61. With full color profiles and rare photographs, this is an absorbing account of an often underestimated flying force: the American Nightfighters.
During the final years of the 20th century, the most significant break-through in military weaponry was the concept of Stealth technology, and the first mass-produced weapon to utilize this to perfection was the F-117 Nighthawk. Originally delivered in 1982, its existence was officially denied until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, when it entered the public spotlight over the skies of Baghdad. Illustrated with stunning color photographs of the F-117 above Iraq, and complemented by numerous personal accounts from the pilots themselves, this book explores the history and combat experience of one of the most secretive planes ever built.
The entry of the United State's premier jet interceptor into the Korean War was triggered by the ever-increasing presence of the Soviet-built MiG-15 south of the Yalu River. The possibility of the USAF losing air supremacy over the Korean Peninsula was unacceptable. The 4th Fighter Wing got the call for combat in Korea. They were made up of a combination of new pilots right out of jet training and the older combat veterans of World War II vintage. This combination of pilot types wrote and re-wrote the text books on jet warfare. Of the 40 jet aces that the war produced, the 4th Wing boasted 24 of them. They also were the dominating MiG killer outfit with the USAF.
The 51st Fighter Wing initially flew the F-80C in the Korean War, but in 1951, the 51st brought in high-scoring World War 2 ace Colonel Francis Gabreski to assume command when it converted from the F-80 over to the newly arrived F-86E. His recruits included his elite 4th Wing pilots, and by the end of the war, the 51st had two pilots who achieved the status of "Double Ace" as well as the highest scoring ace of the war, Joe McConnell. This book describes the 51st Wing's tenure with the Sabre that led to their high scoring sprees of 1953.
The definitive account of F-4 Corsair Units deployed in the Korean War (1950-1953), this book tells the story of the 26 US Navy Squadrons, most of which were carrier based, and the 6 Marine Corps F-4 squadrons that flew combat missions against the North Koreans.Drawing from a vast repository of personal interviews with F-4 pilots, the author paints a harrowing picture of the deadly combat of this often forgotten air war. Included in this volume is the story of Lt Guy Bordelon, the US Navy's sole ace of the Korean War, who flew an F4U-5N night-fighter against the night raiders sent up by the Korean Air force. Backing up the text is a vast number of previously unpublished private photographs that bring the stories of these pilots to life. Finally the book contains extensive appendices that detail every unit deployment by carrier, air group, Corsair model and tail code. Also included is a detailed list noting every Corsair lost in the war, with tail number, pilot, date of loss and the unit.
In 1948 the USAF, Marine Corps and US Navy were concentrating on converting over to an all-jet force. When the Korean War started in June 1950, the USAF had built up a sizable jet force in the Far East, while the US Navy was in the early stages of getting F9F Panthers operational as replacements for its piston-engined F8F Bearcats. At about this time, the Marine Corps had also begun using the Panthers in limited numbers. Operating from aircraft carriers off the Korean coast, F9Fs helped stop the North Korean invasion within two weeks of the communists crossing the 38th Parallel. The Panthers, escorting carrier-based AD Skyraiders and F4U Corsairs, penetrated as far north as Pyongyang, where they bombed and strafed targets that the North Koreans thought were out of range. The Panthers also took the battle all the way to the Yalu River, long before the MiG-15s became a threat. The F9F's basic tasking was aerial supremacy and combat air patrols, but they also excelled in bombing and strafing attacks. The Marine Corps, with its two Panther squadrons, was also involved in close air support and interdiction near the frontlines. There were a total of 32 Panther squadron deployments during the war, along with several special detachments that operated the F9F-2/5P unarmed photo-reconnaissance versions.
The first aircraft to be purposely designed as a radar-equipped nightfigher, Northrop's P-61 Black Widow was heavily influenced by early RAF combat experience with radar-equipped aircraft in the years 1940/41 of World War II (1939-1945). Built essentially around the bulky Radiation Laboratory SCR-720 radar, which was mounted in the aircraft's nose, the P-61 proved to be the largest fighter ever produced for frontline service by the USAAF. Twin-engined and twin-boomed, the Black Widow was armed with a dorsal barbette of four 0.50-in Browning machine guns and two ventrally-mounted 20 mm cannon. This volume features all the frontline users of the mighty P-61, and includes many first-hand accounts from pilots and gunners who saw action in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Western Europe.