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354th Fighter Group (Osprey Aviation Elite 7) Paperback – March 25, 2002
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Hess' book describes the formation and combat history of this high-scoring 9th AF fighter group. With typical military logic, WWII's best long-range escort fighter was given to a group assigned to the tactical 9th AF. The 9th's big brother - the 8th AF - consequently used the 354th whenever possible as escorts for its B-17s and -24s. By war's end, the Pioneer Mustang Group had over 670 air kills, boasted the highest scoring squadron in the USAAF and the only fighter pilot to win an MoH in the ETO (Jim Howard).
354TH FIGHTER GROUP contains over 140 black and white photographs and 12 color pages of 354th P-51s and -47s done by Chris Davey and John Weal. The profiles found in Hess' book are far superior to those contained in Blake's book. The aircraft look right; ditto for the colors. (The aircraft profiles featured in Schiffer aviation titles have always been the weakest part of the books).
So, depending on budget, 354th FG fans and anyone interested in the P-51 in combat, have two good selections to choose from. Hess' book is a good summary with lots of combat reports, pix and top-notch artwork. And it is considerably easier on the pocketbook. Recommended.
The color plates are crisp and well defined, but some of the individual information on some pilots and planes has gaps in it and, as such, doesn't add enough to already available resources. Sadly, those gaps aren't filled by the group's website either. It's a good review of a major 9th AF fighter group that deserves to be covered.