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'I think the success of the 354th as the leading group in the European theatre for aerial victories is due to several things. First was the initial training of the squadrons before deployment to England. Colonel Ken Martin nurtured the group from its infancy, and all the excellence that later showed through could be placed at his doorstep. Despite his youth, he knew how to foster teamwork and demand perfection in flying. There was nothing more important than getting the group off on the right foot. Second, our pilots were taught to fly mutual support, and practised it faithfully. There were no "hot" pilots in the 354th, only "excellent" pilots. Third, men like Glenn Eagleston gave advice and warnings about combat tactics and guarding one's tail. This prepared our pilots for lurking dangers, something the other groups may not have done.' Brigadier General James Howard, Commanding Officer of the 354th Fighter Group
The 49th FG was sent to Australia in early 1942 to help stem the tide of Japanese conquest in Java. Too late to save the island, the group went into action in the defence of Darwin, Australia, where the Forty-Niners' handful of P-40E Warhawks were thrown into combat alongside survivors from the defeated forces that had fled from the Philippines and Java. This book assesses the outstanding performance of the 49th FG, pitted against superior Japanese forces. By VJ-Day the group had scored 668 aerial victories and won three Distinguished Unit Citations and ten campaign stars for its outstanding efforts.
Osprey's study of the B-17 Flying Fortress Units of World War II (1939-1945). Although the Fifteenth Air Force was dismissed as 'minor leaguers' by the Eighth Air Force, strategic bombers from this outfit had done a 'major league' job on Axis targets in southern Europe following its formation in Italy in November 1943. And the heavy bombers employed by the Fifteenth were of course the venerable B-17 and B-24. At its peak strength, the Fifteenth's B-17 force comprised six groups of four squadrons each, all controlled by the 5th Bomb Wing. Having been a part of the Fifteenth Air Force in 1944, author Bill Hess has long been waiting to write a definitive account on 'his air force'.
'Like The Long Reach, Down to Earth is a message from the battle at its height, told in their own words by the men who fight' - this is how Brig-Gen Francis Griswold, VIII Fighter Command, ends his introduction to this book. His official endorsement reveals just how important a document Down to Earth was to the teaching of tyro fighter pilots heading for action in the ETO. More leading aces were lost to flak whilst ground strafing than to German fighters. In this book William Hess has included biographies of all the pilots that originally contributed to this work back in 1943-44.
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