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At the end of World War II, personnel from the Navy's Carrier Air Group 86, assigned to USS Wasp, produced a history of their life and times aboard CV-18. In 1997, Schiffer Publishing latched on to the AG 86 yearbook and reprinted it, adding a wonderful cover artwork by Steve Ferguson and nothing else. They also pitched the book at $45.00. Depending on your sensibilites, CARRIER AIR GROUP 86 IN WORLD WAR II is either a high-priced rip-off or a golden opportunity to acquire a hard-to-find unit history.
The USN staff that originally produced the book first provided a summary of the Air Group with info and photos of officers and EM followed by sections on VF-86, VBF-86, VB-86 and VT-86, a 13-page 'Combat Log,' a section giving 'A Few Facts About 86,' a history of USS Wasp, etc. Small wonder the book runs to 272+ pages and 300+ photographs!
Each unit chapter includes a lengthy 'cruise highlights' narrative, some of which are more informative than others though they do capture the flavor of wartime flying. Likewise the photos are a mixed blessing - almost all being incredibly rare but also suffering from poor reproduction.
Air Group 86 saw fairly brief combat, joining Wasp in March 1945. The group destroyed 89 a/c in the air or on the ground and destroying/damaging some 50 Japanese warships and merchantmen. Forty-six AG 86 pilots/crewmen were KIA or MIA at war's end.
In all likelihood, this may be the only published record of Air Group 86 at war. It's overpriced at $45.00 but...
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