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57th Fighter Group - First in the Blue (Aviation Elite Units) [Kindle Edition]

Carl Molesworth , Jim Laurier
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Organized in January 1941, just as the United States was building up military forces for its inevitable entry into World War II, the 57th Fighter Group was the first USAAF fighter unit to go into action in North Africa. It went on to establish a number of other "firsts" during its illustrious combat history in this theater. Flying P-40 Warhawks, the pilots of the 57th entered combat in August 1942 and fought throughout the final Allied advance from El Alamein through the Axis surrender in Tunisia, the capture of Sicily and the invasion of Italy. Converting to the P-47D Thunderbolt in late 1943, the 57th continued pounding the retreating Axis forces in Italy until the end of the war in Europe. The 57th Fighter Group produced a number of aces during the war, and was also recognized for its pioneering achievements in the fighter-bomber role.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Author Carl Molesworth is well regarded from his authoring of a number of books for Osprey and others. This one is just as superbly written as the others, bringing the experiences of the group's pilots and ground crew to the reader in a very interesting and easy to read fashion. Like all of Osprey's Aviation Elite Units books, this one has superb period photos, a great selection of color profiles as well as appendices that cover group statistics." -Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness

About the Author

Carl Molesworth, a resident of Mount Vernon, Washington, USA, is a former newspaper and magazine editor now working as a freelance writer and editor. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor or arts degree in English, Molesworth served as an enlisted man in the United States Air Force in 1968-1972. He has been researching and writing about fighter operations in World War 2 for nearly 30 years. His nine previous titles include three books in Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces series, two in the Elite Units series and one in the Duel series. The author lives in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5187 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (March 19, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ATLMW7Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Considering its combat record, the 57th Fighter Group, which served in the MTO during WW II, probably qualifies for the unofficial title of "Most Overlooked Fighter Unit of the War!" Flying P-40s, and later P-47s, the 57th pioneered fighter-bomber ops in that theater along with taking a toll of Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica aircraft. By war's end, the 'First in the Blue' Group had won three DUCs and destroyed 180+ e/a and thousands of enemy trucks, tanks and other material. Carl Molesworth details the combat career of the unsung heroes of the 57th FG in this 2010 Osprey 'Aviation Elite Units' title, #39 in the series.

Activated in January 1941, the 57th FG first saw action in North Africa in July 1942, launching off USN carriers! Equipped with Curtiss P-40F Warhawks, the Group soon found itself supporting the Allied ground war against the Afrika Korps. Armed with six .50-caliber machine guns and toting a 500-lb. bombload, the Group's Warhawks were effective ground-attack platforms. Though they fared less well against the Bf 109Fs and Gs flown by Luftwaffe aces, the Group did fairly well in air-to-air combat, the Group claiming 74 kills in the April 1943 'Palm Sunday Massacre.' When the Group, part of the 12th AF, re-equipped with Republic P-47s in November 1943, the Group went from strength to strength, striking targets in Sicily, Italy and France.

To the best of my knowledge, Molesworth's book is the first history of the Group in recent times. Wayne Dodds' FABULOUS 57TH FG OF WORLD WAR II is out-of-print and way expensive! In any case, Molesworth does a fine job of relating the combat life and times of this important yet unsung unit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Son of a 57th FG appreciates Molesworth's tribute March 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My father, Guy O. Denton (whose wartime letters I have compiled into a book called LETTERS FROM OUT OF THE BLUELetters From Out of the Blue: The Correspondence of Guy O. Denton, USAAF,from North Africa during WWII), was a P-40 pilot in the 65th and, later, the 66th squadrons. As he talked little about his wartime experiences, I am always glad to learn more of what the North African Campaign was like. The names of many of the flyers Molesworth discusses in this book are very familiar to me, as Dad's letters are filled with them. Kudos to Carl for shining the spotlight on a much neglected unit in the MTO.
Rocky Denton
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the 57th! October 6, 2011
Format:Paperback
There is little out there on fighting units of the 9th and 12th Airforce in the MTO. This book helps make up for this oversight. We often hear about the 4th Fighter Group or the 56th in the Eighth Airforce, but since the 57th didn't shoot down an extraordinary number of aircraft it has been sadly neglected.

What I loved about this book was the coverage of its introduction to combat by flying off of the aircraft carrier Ranger. They also flew an unusual version of the famous P-40, the P-40F. Instead of a General Motors Allison engine, it was equipped with a Packard built Merlin engine. This gave it some extra performance at higher altitudes than the Allison could handle. The cover shows one of the more famous missions of the 57th, where a hord of Ju-52 tranports were shot down. This was one more nail in the coffin of the Afrika Korps.

Later, the group turned in their P-40F's for P-47D's. This aircraft was much more suitable for their mission, which was mainly that of ground attack. Fortunately, there was a film in WWII shot in color of some of the 57th's missions introduced by Jimmy Stewart. It was simply called "Thunderbolt." It was filmed by William Wyler, who also filmed "Memphis Belle," the documentary. If you buy this book you must see the film!

This group had great influence on how the war was fought. The ground attack techniques it had learned through hard experience were used later by the Eighth and Ninth Airforces after the Normandy landings.

As usual in this series, the illustrations are carefully chosen and the color plates are superb. I will read anything Carl Molesworth writes! He is one of our premier aviation authors. In short, I loved this book.

I applaud Osprey for coming up with unusual topics. I look forward to future releases of this very popular series.
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As I was a member of the 65th in later years, I wanted the book for the kids. If you buy the book, go to the web link listed in it. There is a complete history and all the news letters from the first reunion until the ranks were thinned too thin to gather again. Some of my generation put the site together while there were still live reference material.
I served in many squadrons, but it is the 65th that I consider my legacy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Brief History September 16, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I primarily purchased this book for professional reasons. I am the United States Air Force Warfare Center historian at Nellis AFB, Nevada, and today's 57th Wing, which traces it's lineage to the 57th Fighter Group, is one of our subordinate units. Filled with lots of illustrations, this book provides a good overview history of the 57th Fighter Group's operations during WWII.
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