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.