Hell Hawks! is the story of a band of young American pilots and their gritty, close-quarters fight against Hitler’s vaunted military. The Hell Hawks were the 365th Fighter Group, three squadrons of fighter-bomber pilots. Beginning just prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944, these pilots fresh from flight training in the United States (most were barely twenty years old), flew in close support of Eisenhower’s ground forces as they advanced across France and into Germany.
They flew the rugged, heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt—affectionately known as “the Jug”—a big tub of a plane that could absorb a pounding from the enemy and still fly back home. Living in tents amid the cold mud of their front-line airfields, the 365th’s daily routine had much in common with the GIs they supported. During their year in combat, the Hell Hawks paid a heavy price for the Nazi surrender on May 8, 1945. Sixty-nine pilots and airmen died in the fight across the continent. The Group’s 1,241 combat missions forged bonds between these men that remain strong sixty years later. Many of them were interviewed for this book, bringing the Hell Hawks’ fight against the Reich to life in their own words.
Robert F. Dorr is an Air Force veteran (Korea, 1957–1960), a retired senior American diplomat (1964–1989), and the author of sixty books and thousands of magazine articles and newspaper columns about the Air Force and air warfare. In the past year, Bob has written for Air and Space Smithsonian, Flight Journal, Air Forces Monthly, Air Power History, and many other publications. He is a columnist for Air Force Times newspaper and writes the Washington Watch feature for Aerospace America magazine. His recent book, Air Force One, a history of presidential aircraft and air travel, has been praised by critics. Bob lives in Oakton, Virginia, with his family and their Labrador retriever.
Thomas D. Jones, PhD, is a veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, speaker, author, and consultant. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and during eleven years with NASA flew on four space shuttle missions, totaling fifty-three days in space. Tom is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and piloted B-52D strategic bombers prior to joining NASA’s astronaut corps. He has written about space exploration and aviation history in Air and Space Smithsonian, Aerospace America, and Popular Mechanics. He is the co-author of two young adult books, Mission: Earth and The Scholastic Encyclopedia of the United States at War, as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to NASA. His autobiography is Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir. Tom is a regular on-air contributor for Fox News Channel’s spaceflight coverage and lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.