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How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare Hardcover – March 3, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


 Read this book. Boyne constructs a fast-paced narrative that begins with the first uses of helicopters in warfare and for lifesaving missions.  

If the book has a flaw, it is too brief.  


--Proceedings of U.S. Naval Institute

From the Author

The recent wonderful mission in which our Navy Seals killed the world's leading terrorist, Osama bin Laden, illlustrates perfectly the three thrusts of this book. The first thrust is to honor not only the combat crews that fly the helicopters but their equally important ground crews. The second thrust is to show lthat helicopters have become the point of America's sword, being used for missions that could otherwise never be accomplished. The third thrust is that, sad it is. the United States, the richest country in the world, is sending its combat troops into battle in helicopters whose basic design dates back to the 1970s and 1980s. The crash of the  modified Black Hawk in Osama's compound illustrates the risk involved in using ancient equipment. We have fifth generation jet fighters with stand-off weapons, but are fighting at close quarters with first and second generation jet helicopters.  My books points out the terrible R&D and Procurement problems of the services and suggests a Skunk Works approach to solving the difficulties and getting new combat helicopters into the field.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (March 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589807006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589807006
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,414,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Walter J. Boyne was the Director of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution from 1983 to 1986, and Acting Director from 1981 to 1983. He retired in August, 1986 to pursue a career as a novelist, nonfiction author and consultant. He is one of the few writers to have both fiction and nonfiction books on the New York Times Best Seller lists. An inventor, he has been awarded a patent on an advanced information retrieval system. He is currently chairman of the board of the National Aeronautics Association, and on July 21, 2007 was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He has served twice as an expert witness for Lockheed Martin, once in 1999 and once in 2003. He is currently Chairman of the Board of the National Aeronautic Association.
A career Air Force officer, Boyne entered the Aviation Cadet program in 1951, and won his wings and commission in 1952. He has flown over 5,000 hours in a score of different aircraft, from a Piper Cub to a B 1B, and is a Command Pilot. Boyne retired as a Colonel on June 1, 1974 after 23 years of service. In November, 1989, he returned for familiarization flights in the B 1B bomber.
He began writing articles on aviation subjects in 1962, and has since then completed more than 1,000 articles, forty-four non-fiction books and eight novels. His books have been published in England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, Japan and China. He is the author of aviation sections in the Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as in three other encyclopedias, including Encarta. He is the editor of the (2002) Encyclopedia of Air Warfare, by ABC-Clio.
His latest novel Hypersonic Thunder is the third of a trilogy on the history of jet aviation. In 2007, he published "Soaring to Glory, The Air Force Memorial" and "Beyond the Wild Blue, A History of the United States Air Force, 1947-2007. In 2003, Dawn Over Kitty Hawk was published by Tor/Forge, part of St. Martin's Press, It was followed by The Influence of Air Power on History, published in July, 2003, by Pelican Publishing. His Chronicle of Flight, a 95,000 word, 1,000 photograph history of flight appeared from Publications International in August, 2003. His Operation Iraqi Freedom: What Went Right, What Went Wrong and Why was published by TOR/Forge (St. Martins Press) in that same month. In October, 2003, Rising Tide, the story of the Russian and Soviet submarine force was published, co-authored with Gary Weir. In December, two works were published that Boyne edited, Aviation 100, Volume III, and The Alpha Guide to the Military
His first novel The Wild Blue (co-authored with Steven L. Thompson) was published by Crown Publishers. It was a national best seller on the New York Times list in both hard cover and paperback editions, and won the Aviation/Space Writers Association Award for best Fiction Book of 1986. His second novel, Trophy for Eagles, a solo effort, was published by Crown in May, 1989, and received strong critical acclaim. The second novel in the trilogy, Eagles at War was published in May, 1991, to similar reviews. In January, 1991, he published Weapons of Desert Storm and Gulf War. Weapons of Desert Storm made the New York Time's nonfiction best seller's list. The third novel of his trilogy, Air Force Eagles was published in June, 1992.
A nonfiction book, Classic Aircraft was published in the summer of 1992. Art in Flight , a book on the magnificent work of sculptor John Safer, was published in October of 1992..Silver Wings, a nonfiction history of the Air Force appeared in October, 1993, while Clash of Wings, a nonfiction history of the great air campaigns of World War II, appeared in June, 1994. It was a main selection of the History Book of the Month Club for July, 1994. Both of the latter two books are published by Simon & Schuster, as is Clash of Titans a non-fiction history of the great sea campaigns of World War II, which was published in June, 1995.
Beyond the Wild Blue, A History of the United States Air Force, 1947-1997 was published in 1997 for St. Martin's Press. It is on the USAF's Chief of Staff's required reading list for Air Force personnel. The Air Force Association presented Boyne the Gill Robb Wilson Award in recognition of what has been called the definitive history of the United States Air Force. In 1998, St. Martin's Press published his "Beyond the Horizons" a history of the Lockheed Company from 1913 to 1995. It has received unanimous critical acclaim . His next work was co-editing an anthology with Philip Handleman . It is titled Brassey's Air Combat Reader , and was published by Brassey in 1999.
An earlier nonfiction book, The Smithsonian Book of Flight published in June, 1987, was a Book of the Month Club Premium selection, won the New York Public Library Prize, and sold some 400,000 copies. In 1986, The Leading Edge was also a Book of the Month Club Premium Selection. It won the Best Non Fiction Book of 1986 Award by the Aviation/Space Writers Association. It was also published in England and Germany. In 1987 another nonfiction book, Power Behind the Wheel traced the evolution of the automobile in technical and cultural terms, and was awarded the Thomas McKean Cup by the Antique Automobile Association of America for best book of the year.
Both The Leading Edge and The Power Behind the Wheel were republished in hardcover in the Spring of 1991 by Abbeyville Press, and both have been published in German and English foreign editions. Boeing B-52, Phantom in Combat and Messerschmitt Me 262 were all republished in 1994. Boyne's books have been published in England, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Germany, Italy and Japan. The novel The Wild BLue was republished in 1998 year by Wind Canyon publishing. Simon & Schuster republished Clash of Titans and Clash of Wings as trade paperbacks in 1997. Both books have been placed on audio and have been published in Poland, Italy and Czechoslovakia.
His later books include Aces in Command, Classic Aircraft, and Best of Wings, all three published in 2001, along with ABC-Clio's Encyclopedia of Air Warfare, and The Two O'Clock War: the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the American Airlift that Saved Israel, published in September, 2002, by St. Martin's Press.
He published five books in 2003, including the novel "Dawn Over Kitty Hawk" the story of the Wright brothers; "Rising Tide" with Gary Weir, covering the Soviet Union's submarine experience;.
Boyne is the editor of the Walter J. Boyne Military Aircraft Series for McGraw Hill. Boyne serves as Associate Editor on two national aviation magazines and contributes a articles to several national newspapers. He is a consultant to four publishers, several museums and several aerospace firms. His aviation interests are wide ranging, and he serves as an advisor to a number of national and international organizations.
Boyne became involved in television in 1991, writing scripts and directing production of the highly successful series of Wings television program that appeared on the Discovery Channel. This led to his co-founding of the cable television channel Wingspan the Air and Space Channel, went on the air in April 1998 and was bought out by the Discovery Channel a year later. Boyne consults for the Discovery Military Channel, and has been designated "Aerospace Expert in Residence" by Discovery.
Boyne is a familiar figure on television, appearing as a commentator on aviation and military events on all the major networks, including PBS, CNN and C-Span, as well as the History, A&E, Discovery and Speedvision cable channels. He has hosted and narrated three television programs. The first of these is a five-part series made from his book Beyond the Wild Blue, A History of the Air Force, 1947-1997. It appears on the History Channel. The second is the thirteen part series made from his book Clash of Wings, and appears on Speedvision and PBS. The third is a program on John Safer's sculpture, entitled Flight in Art.
When Boyne left the Air Force, he joined the Air and Space Museum as an assistant curator on June 10th, 1974, and gained wide experience in every aspect of museum operations. He was successively Curator of Aeronautics, Chief of Preservation and Restoration, Chief of Exhibits and Production, Assistant Director, Deputy Director, Acting Director and Director. Boyne's career at the Museum was highlighted by a number of extraordinary achievements. One of the first of these was to transform the totally inadequate facility then existing at Silver Hill into the world's premier restoration facility. When the facility was up and running, and a new museum open to the public there, Boyne led the initiative to re-name the facility in honor of his good friend and mentor, Paul Garber.
While this was going on, Boyne was responsible for the movement, assembly, and installation of all of the precious artifacts in the new Museum, coordinating this with the rapid-paced exhibit installation. So effective was his work that the Museum was ready to open four days before its scheduled July 4th 1976 official opening.
Boyne founded the magazine Air & Space, and established the editorial policies which made it the best selling aviation magazine in the United States. He negotiated an agreement with NASA to fly an IMAX camera on the Space Shuttle, and directly supervised the production of two of the most successful IMAX films, "The Dream is Alive" and "On the Wing". The latter film included a close cooperative effort with Dr. Paul MacCready to create "QN" a radio-controlled flying pterodactyl. He spearheaded the planning of the huge new restaurant which rectified two of NASMs shortcomings, an inadequate restaurant and inadequate restrooms.
In one of the most far-seeing moves, he negotiated directly with Donald Engen, then the Adminstrator of the FAA, and created the agreements that provided the land upon which the new extension of the Museum at Dulles. To insure that the Smithsonian would act upon this concept, he arranged for the Space Shuttle Enterprise to be flown and stored there in 1985.
Boyne had a profound effect upon Museum operations, insisting that the staff realize that the public was their boss, and that they had to work hard to satisfy that responsibility. He also pioneered the Museum's well received video disc program, and patented the "Digitizer" automated storage and retrieval system.
Boyne infused the Museum's research and publication program with a new vigor, and personally supervised the upgrading of the Museum's exhibit program. He is generally recognized to have made the Museum the most popular in the world while at the same time providing a very high level of education content. In addition, his entrepreneurial success resulted in the Museum's shop operating at record profits, and the IMAX films paying for themselves and generating additional income.
In his capacity as Director, he served as pro bono consultant to dozens of museums in many different countries, a task he continued in a professional role after his retirement. He has acted as consultant for the Museum of Flying, in Santa Monica, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, writing the complete exhibit scripts for both organizations. He also consulted for the Aerospace Education Center in Little Rock, and for many others. He often does pro bono work for governmental museums such as the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon.
He is a member of almost all of the major aeronautical associations, and is a fellow of the French National Academie de l'Air et l'Espace. He has a BSBA with honors from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MBA, with honors, from the University of Pittsburgh. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Aerospace Sciences from Salem College, West Virginia in 1984.
He was awarded the Cliff Henderson Trophy for lifetime achievement in aviation by the National Aviation Club, which recently also named him an "Elder Statesman of Aviation". Previous winners include famous test pilots Scott Crossfield and Tony Levier. In 1997 he received the Gil Robb Wilson Award from the Air Force Association, and in 1998 was given the Paul Tissandier Diploma by the F.A.I. In 2006 he won the Lyman Award for lifetime contributions to Aviation. In 2007 he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. His biography appears in both Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in America. He lives in Ashburn, Virginia, with his wife, Terri. .

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. B. Teague on March 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was an incredible book that pulled no punches. Yes, there are those who might take umbrage with some of his very valid points. It was a very educational read and a very sobering one. I will never look at helicopters again in the same light. It is a must read for any pilot of a helicopter and any student of military history or aviation history. I just ordered two more copies.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By whodunit on March 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
How the Helicopter Has Changed Modern Warfare

By Walter J. Boyne

From its introduction to warfare in the 1940s to its role in Middle East operations, the helicopter has had a profound effect on military tactics and techniques. It has evolved from a means of transport to a precise component of the Special Operations Force. Apart from the challenges its design faced on the battlefield, this rotary-wing aircraft also faced opposition from the very military that employed it.

Author Walter J. Boyne leads readers through production designs and their connection to specific military strategies that helped the helicopter define its role in combat. He assigns cardinal importance to three of the early helicopter pioneers in the United States--Igor Sikorsky, Frank Piasecki, and Arthur Young--in the establishment of the industry. He also notes that as the industry grew larger, as procurement quantities increased, and as the services became more demanding in their requirements, the efforts of such pioneers was diluted. Considerations of logistics, spare parts, modifications, and per-unit cost began to drive the design parameters, forcing a more corporate guise upon the industry. Still, it is important to recognize that the influence of the three pioneers--Sikorsky, Piasecki and Young--can still be seen today in service helicopters.

Although its contributions to reconnaissance, transport, assault, and attack made it an invaluable tool during warfare, the helicopter suffered from the different services' focus on other arms and technology.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Walt Shiel on July 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As always, Walt Boyne has delivered a book that goes beyond just the history of the subject. He has managed to take the history of the military development and use of the helicopter from its inception to today's battlefields and beyond, while keeping it all in context. I can't imagine another military aviation historian handling this subject better.

Boyne describes the first combat search-and-rescue mission, of a downed liaison pilot and his three wounded passengers, flown by a US Army pilot in a newfangled Sikorsky YR-4B deep in the jungles of Burma. He then traces the subsequent development of military helicopter aviation, complete with the service rivalries and political machinations that alternately helped and hindered progress.

I found his in-depth approach to the helicopter's coming-of-age during the Vietnam War of particular value. Boyne, as usual, pulls no punches when describing the tactical, strategic, and political decisions, and blunders, that surrounded the growing combat importance of the helicopter. The history of how the employment of the helicopter surmounted technical shortcomings with in-the-field innovations and the sheer bravado and courage of the aircrews.

This book, however, does not present a myopic, US-only viewpoint. No, Boyne delves into the world of Soviet/Russian helicopter development and employment. And it does not end with descriptions of the amazing feats of today's helicopter crews in Iraq and Afghanistan. He winds up this fascinating history with a clear-eyed look ahead at the future of helicopters in military engagements yet to come. Boyne's final paragraph is worth quoting:

"The helicopter has significantly changed the face of modern warfare.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By msjazz237 on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Title: How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare

Author: Walter J. Boyne

Pages: 352

This book is worth reading because of the details it provides about the history surrounding helicopters. This book gives in depth descriptions about who was involved, where it happened, and why it happened, concerning the development and use of helicopters. For any one interested in gaining insight into history and the different roles the helicopter played in it, this is a book for them.

The author, Walter J. Boyne, was very thorough throughout the book which I enjoyed. He made sure that all aspects of an event were covered which gave me a good sense of what was going on and how it affected the helicopter or how the helicopter affected the event.

Boyne initially put a lot of his own narration into the book which I found distracting from the actual content of the book. He would cut in halfway through a sentence to explain that he wound further explain a point later in the book. I personally found it distracting from the main point he was going to make in that sentence. Boyne primarily did this in the beginning of the book, but he occasionally did it throughout the rest.

Overall, I did not like this book all that much. I found that Boyne spent to much time focusing on the events surrounding the helicopter as opposed to the helicopter itself. As a helicopter fanatic I hoped to read a lot about helicopters in this book, and instead I found myself getting a history lesson on events that the helicopter was in.

This book is for adult readers (high school and above). The context and the writing style are challenging.
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