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Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The U.S. Army Air Forces Against Germany in World War II Hardcover – October 15, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the San Diego Book Award for Military & Politics

Bronze medalist--Military Writers Society of America

An excellent overview of the U.S. Army Air Forces' war against Nazi Germany.  Both historians and enthusiasts will find something of interest in this well-researched history.
--Barrett Tillman, Author of "Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan"

As always, air combat veteran Jay Stout creates a spellbinding narrative by asking, and getting answers to, important and illuminating questions no other author on the topic has ever even thought of. --Eric Hammel, author of "The Road to Big Week"

"A colossal undertaking that delivers brilliantly. This work rises above the fray and is reminiscent of Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers." --Michael Franzak, author of "A Nightmare's Prayer: A Marine Harrier Pilot's War in Afghanistan"

A marvelously written work!  Stout...offers stirring firsthand accounts of the strategies and doctrines that won the air war over Europe.  --Col Walter J. Boyne, (Ret.), USAF, Former director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

"As spell binding as it is authoritative -- never before has there been such a detailed work on the USAAF." (Mick Evans HyperScale 2011-07-12)

From the Inside Flap

When World War II began, the U.S. Army Air Corps numbered only 45,000 men and a few thousand aircraft--hardly enough to defend the United States, let alone defeat Germany's Luftwaffe, the world's most formidable air force. Yet by the war's end, the Luftwaffe had been crushed, and the U.S. Army Air Forces, successor to the Air Corps, had delivered the decisive blows. The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe tells the story of that striking transformation--one of the marvels of modern warfare--while simultaneously thrusting readers into whirling, heart-pounding accounts of aerial combat.

The Allies couldn't defeat Hitler's Third Reich without destroying its industry and taking its territory, but before they could do either, they had to neutralize the Luftwaffe, whose state-of-the-art aircraft and battle-seasoned pilots stood ready to batter any attackers. Great Britain's Royal Air Force was only barely holding the line, and the might of the United States was needed to turn the tide.

Almost from scratch, the United States built an air force of more than two million men. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Henry "Hap" Arnold, Carl "Tooey" Spaatz, Ira Eaker, James Doolittle, and others, the USAAF assembled a well-trained and superbly equipped force unlike any ever fielded. And thanks to the brave Americans who crewed, maintained, and supported the aircraft, the USAAF annihilated the Luftwaffe as it pounded targets deep inside Germany and elsewhere.

A stirring tribute to these men as well as an engaging work of history, The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe vividly describes World War II in the skies above Europe. At the same time, it captures the personalities of the men who won it, whether on the ground or in the sky.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1st edition (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811706591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811706599
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jay A. Stout can be contacted at: jayastout at usa dot net

Jay A. Stout is a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot. An Indiana native and graduate of Purdue University, he was commissioned during June 1981 and designated a naval aviator on 13 May 1983. His first fleet assignment was to F-4 Phantoms at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. Following a stint as an instructor pilot at NAS Chase Field Texas from 1986 to 1989, he transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet. He flew the Hornet from bases on both coasts and ultimately retired from MCAS Miramar during 2001.

Aside from his flying assignments, he served in a variety of additional billets with different staffs around the world. During his twenty-year career he flew more than 4,500 flight hours, including 37 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm.

Following his military career Stout worked for a short time as an airline pilot before being furloughed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He subsequently flew for the Kuwait Air Force before returning to the States where he now works for as a senior analyst for a leading defense corporation.

Lieutenant Colonel Stout's writing has been read on the floor of the U.S. Senate and published in various professional journals and newspapers around the nation. Works published while he was on active duty addressed controversial topics (women in the military, the MV-22 Osprey, effectiveness of the AV-8B Harrier, etc.) and took viewpoints that were often at odds with senior military leadership. Nevertheless, his cogent arguments and forthrightness contributed considerably to his credibility. Indeed, his expertise is widely recognized and he has made many appearances as a combat aviation expert on news networks such as Fox, Al Jazeera and National Public Radio.

Read the interview below to learn more about Jay A. Stout and his writing:


"Well, I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1959. My father worked for the FAA and my mom raised my two sisters and I while working as a book keeper for various businesses. When I was younger we moved around quite a bit, including a stint overseas, but ultimately we settled back in Indiana. I graduated from Danville High School in 1977, and Purdue University in 1981."

"For most of my life I wanted to be nothing but a fighter pilot. But while I was at college I was turned down by the Air Force because my major discipline, agronomy, was not considered a technical degree. Still, the Marine Corps didn't care, and one day a Marine Corps recruiter literally grabbed my arm while I was walking through the student union building and asked me what I wanted to do with myself. I pointed at a poster he had of an F-4 Phantom II and said, "I want to fly those!" He indicated that I would have no problem doing just that and had me sign on the dotted line."

"The odds against me getting through all the tests and medical screenings, not to mention flight school, and finally into the cockpit of the F-4 were about 100 to 1, but the right mix of timing, luck, and a little bit of talent worked to my favor."


"I did go on to fly the F-4 just like the recruiter promised. Flying the F-4 was fun, but it was aging and the Marine Corps wasn't spending a lot of money to maintain it. Following my F-4 tour I flight instructed on the T-2C Buckeye. It was one of the ugliest jets around, but I had a blast teaching on it. I then transitioned to the F/A-18 and flew with VMFA-451 during Desert Storm. After that, I didn't get shot at through the rest of my career and finally retired from MCAS Miramar in San Diego during 2001 after 20 years of service. I then started a career with Delta Air Lines but was furloughed immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11. After flying F/A-18s for a year as a contract instructor with the Kuwait Air Force I came back to the States and now work for a major defense contractor as a senior analyst."


"I was probably better at writing than most of my peers, but I didn't have any special talent or training. Writing is mostly just hard work. During my freshman year at Purdue I took a semester of advanced composition so that I could test out of English. I busted my backside and got a big, fat 'C.'"

"Anyway, I was like a lot of people: 'I've always wanted to write a book.' Well, after Desert Storm there was no one writing any of the sorts of first-person accounts of the fighting that I had enjoyed reading as a young man. I figured that I had been there and that I could write about it as well as anyone else, so I gave it a shot. I can't imagine writing a book on a typewriter. Agh!"


"Yes, and I did everything wrong. I just wrote it and sent it straight out to about a ga-jillion publishers without an agent or even a proposal or a query letter. Most of the manuscripts came back with notes that essentially said, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' or 'You suck and so does your book,' or 'Don't ever bother us again.' Of course, not exactly in those words. There were a couple of bites though, and eventually after a rewrite or two and some tough editing, Naval Institute Press published it in 1997."

"The Marine Corps hated it. In the book I used some colorful language and I picked on some of the senior generals, and some of the Marine Corps's policies. I slammed the AV-8B Harrier and questioned the role of women in the military. But because of my frankness and honesty I made a lot of friends and sold a few books. I think that the Naval Institute Press was pleased."

"Now, almost a decade later, I sometimes cringe when I pick it up and read bits of it. Not because my stance on any of the controversial issues has changed, but rather some of the writing appears very amateurish. I could write it so much better now. Still, I think the publisher puposely edited it that way in order to keep the book honest--so that there was no doubt it was written by a warrior rather than a professional."


"Eric Hammel of Pacifica Military History asked me to approach Hamilton "Mac" McWhorter and collaborate with him to write about his World War II experiences as a Navy fighter ace. Eric is one of the savviest and best World War II historians around and he understood the value of getting Mac to record his experiences."

"Mac was one of the finest gentlemen I've ever known. He was genuine and modest and understood that war isn't about blowing things up and covering oneself in glory. Instead, he knew it's about dead friends and dead sons, dead brothers, dead husbands and dead fathers. Working with him to help him write his book was a pleasure although sometimes he was so modest I had to really press him for details, otherwise the reader would have had nothing to work with. 'And then I shot him down' just wasn't enough! We made it work though, and I'm pretty proud of what we produced. This is a fine book about one of the best aerial marksmen of all time.


"At Eric Hammel's suggestion I wrote 'Fortress Ploesti.' Although a gob of books have been written about the big low-level raid of August 1, 1943, no one had ever covered that story and the subsequent campaign the next year that turned the place into rubble. I really spent a great deal of time researching this work which was published by Casemate in 2003. It's a one-of-a-kind effort and I've never had anyone say anything negative about it. Instead, I've gotten a ton of responses from veterans who are genuinely happy that someone put what they were doing so long ago into context. The Fifteenth Air Force in Italy did a lot of tremendous work but never got the publicity that the Eighth Air Force in England got. I still love reading it and feel that it's one of my best books."


"Again, Eric Hammel played a role. He steered Motor Books International at me. They were looking for someone to write their naval aviator title for their "To Be a...." series. It's different than anything I'd done before: Large, soft-cover format with lots of photographs and descriptive text and captions. I thought it would be a no-brainer; after all, I'd been through the training, albeit twenty-some years ago. As it turned out, it was a lot of work. After all, although I'd been through jet training I had no idea about how the helicopter or multi-engine training pipelines worked. And although I considered myself a pretty good self-taught photographer, I was a bit worried that I might have gotten in over my head. But, things went well. I traveled a bit and talked to a lot of the kids who were going through training. And I took a lot of photographs. The book has turned out great."


"Yes, 'Hammer from Above--Marine Air Combat over Iraq.' An agent, E.J. McCarthy of The E.J. McCarthy Agency, called me up out of the blue. He asked what I had in mind for my next book and I told him that I was fiddling around with doing something about Marine Aviation in Iraq. This was just after Saddam had been driven from power. Anyway, E.J. was encouraging and signed me aboard. After I'd done a few sample chapters he sold the book to Random House. It was published by Ballantine under the Presidio imprint."

"The book follows the Iraq campaign in early 2003 up to Baghdad and it does so through the eyes of different types of Marine aviators, and all in the context of the ground campaign. For instance, on one day we might fly a mission with a UH-1N crew, and the next day go flying with the Cobras, and then perhaps an F/A-18 or CH-46E crew. There's been nothing like it done before--certainly not for the Marine Corps. This is a big book by a big publisher. I'm very pleased with it. It's been well-received critically and by my Marine Corps brethren."


"Two weeks after the fall of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and the rest of the men at the Alamo, the only other standing force on the side of the revolution was the garrison at Goliad. Those men fought a courageous battle but surrendered to a much larger Mexican army under terms that were supposed to see them returned to the United States. Instead, they were betrayed. A week later, Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, on orders from Santa Anna, they were brutally shot, bayoneted and clubbed to death The number killed was likely double the number killed at the Alamo."

"As a young jet instructor I was stationed not far from Goliad. The more I learned about what happened to these men...their horrible deaths...the more frustrated I got that their story was unknown--certainly outside of Texas. So, I wrote the first comprehensive account of this tragedy; the book has done real well, even winning a couple of awards."


"This was a book that I'd always dreamed of writing. I grew up reading exciting accounts of air combat, and when I got older I studied the strategies and tactics behind the air war against Germany. But rarely were the two ever combined in a single work. I've done that in this book; I take the strategies that the USAAF leadership crafted to win the war and shape them around the crown jewels of the book--the personal accounts of air combat. It works really well while making the case that it was the USAAF that defeated the Nazi air force and set the conditions the Allies needed to win the war."


"Yes, I'm really excited about this. It is the most comprehensive and best-written book ever done on a single fighter group. Although it was representative of similar units in the USAAF, the 352nd Fighter Group, part of the Eighth Air Force, was one of the most successful. There was something special about it that simply isn't definable. However, I'm confident that the reader will get a sense of that specialness by following the different personalities through their missions and through the discussions of the 352nd's heartaches and triumphs. The book isn't a dry recounting of mission numbers, but rather it is an involved and personal story that makes sense of the equipment, tactics and human characteristics that made the unit tick."


"I've had a few articles published in various professional journals and newspapers--mostly about aviation and military topics. Some of them have just been scholarly discussions. Others challenged the military leadership. One of them was read on the senate floor. A couple of them had me standing tall on the wrong side of a big desk. A combination of them cost me the opportunity to advance any further in the Marine Corps. I don't regret a single word. Particularly since I was right. Still, I do have a sense of self-preservation and there are a couple of articles that I did not publish because the kitchen got way too hot. Even now, in the civilian world. Nevertheless, I think that it's important to get the right word out. It's easier to sleep that way."


"Start. A person can think of a thousand reasons not to begin a work. Bottom line: 'It ain't gonna get wrote if you don't start it.' And then, don't give up. Finish it. And if it gets rejected, keep fixing it and sending it out. Don't stop until it's published. I have not one shred of doubt that the top 20 American classics never got published because their writers gave up. Those manuscripts are sitting in an attic or garage somewhere and will never see the light of day because the writers didn't have the energy and guts to see them get to print."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There has been a colossal stack of material written about the air war over Western Europe during WW II. This will be one of the last volumes to include original interviews with USAAF veterans who took on the Luftwaffe over its own territory and won. One of the best features of this book is that Stout draws on his own experience as a fighter pilot to illuminate how crucial but often neglected aspects of the American war effort - training in particular - played a critical role in creating and sustaining air superiority over "Fortress Europe" in 1944-45. Another excellent aspect is Stout's ability to trace the consequences of strategic decisions to operational effects and to illustrate the connections with compelling tactical examples drawn from the memories of the dwindling number of surviving participants. The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe is accessible for the casual reader with a fresh perspective and new material of interest to even the most widely-read WW II expert. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Having read over 300 books on the air war in WW II, I purchased this book with some reservations. In the past I have read several books that looked great on the cover (tail end Charlie to be a recent example), that were good books, but ultimately spent too much time on the RAF and the night operations of Sir Harris. This book takes an entirely different and refreshing approach focusing solely on the work of the men of the US ARMY Air Corps. In the first chapter of the book, the author sets the tones of the story by describing how he came up with the title of the book and why it fits the American fighting from the air in Europe. This book is very well written, insightful both of the political battles of the Army Air Corps, and of the many (first hand experiences of the) air battles themselves. The narrative is captivating and most certainly does justice to those for whom the story is written.
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Format: Hardcover
Jay Stout has written a very thorough and engaging account of the US Army Air Force (USAAF) war against Germany. His basic thesis is that the USAAF defeated the Luftwaffe; only they had the plans, manpower, and equipment necessary to beat the Luftwaffe. The RAF, in his view, did not and could not secure air superiority through the strategy the British pursued, and the Soviets lacked a strategic air force. Stout ably describes the course and outcome of the air war, from the buildup before the war, to the early efforts over Africa and Italy, to the bitter campaign over Germany in 1943, to the final and decisive campaigns of 1944-45. He also describes the critical (but often neglected) issues of pilot, gunner and aircrew training, as the ability of the USAAF to train large numbers of skilled crews enabled it to overwhelm the Luftwaffe.

Stout provides a good mix between first-hand accounts, description of the strategic and operational context of the war, and analysis of the capabilities of different aircraft. This is not a pure "I was there" type book, but neither is it a dry doctrinal or technical discussion. He has corresponded with many World War II veterans who, to my knowledge, have never before related their combat experiences, and thus the first-hand accounts seem very "fresh" to someone who has read a lot of air combat histories as I have. Stout does not idolize the men of the USAAF or present them as a set of "Greatest Generation" cliches. Rather, he sees them for who they were -- normal Americans doing what needed to be done, some doing their jobs well, and others doing their jobs poorly.

Stout has a very readable and engaging style. In addition, he is a Marine aviator and fighter pilot himself. His accounts of air combat therefore bring a "real world" perspective to bear, but the discussions of strategy and tactics are still accessible to the general reader.

Anyone interested in air combat in World War II should read this book.
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From the standpoint of a very senior citizen--me--who was a teenager during WWII, this book achieves two desirable ends: entertainment and education. In a highly readable way, it reveals to us what was happening to the men who were far away fighting the air war while we at home got only glimpses of their triumphs and tragedies through the daily radio newscasts of H.V. Kaltenborn, Lowell Thomas, and Edward R. Murrow. There were also ten-minute newsreels at the movies, and those were the major sources of our scant knowledge of the distant war.

Now, through this incredibly well-researched book, Jay Stout has opened a door and invited all ages in to see and feel the danger, dedication and fear these men lived with as they willingly did their jobs to keep the fighting and destruction on the other side of the Atlantic. Now I know something of what my cousin must have felt when he manhandled a mammoth B-24 through layers of flak and German fighters to bomb Ploesti oil refineries. Or what another cousin who was almost blind in one eye (but who had memorized eye charts!) accomplished by becoming a crew chief and doggedly keeping the planes flying.

Of course we've all seen dozens of movies about the war, and they help us understand much, but Jay Stout's book is the real McCoy. He brings history to life and personalizes it by interviewing dozens of men of my generation whose war-time experiences and emotions are etched in their memories. We appreciate this because the men who returned to us so long ago very seldom talked about what they had done and seen and we were left with what we had gleaned from the six o'clock radio news and the ten-minute newsreels.
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