Thanks to one man - Merle Olmsted - the 357th Fighter Group is probably the best-documented unit to have served in the Mighty Eighth. Over the years, Olmsted, a former 357th crew chief, penned dozens of articles and three books including the definitive TO WAR WITH THE YOXFORD BOYS, published in 2004. James Roeder did a 357th FG book for Squadron/Signal in 2000, Roeder acknowledging Olmsted's great contribution to that book as well! Now we have Chris Bucholtz's MUSTANG ACES OF THE 357TH FIGHTER GROUP from Osprey. Even as I read through it, I wondered if maybe authors have gone to the '357th well' enough times. I'll let others decide that; as for me, I enjoyed it.
Bucholtz interweaves the exploits of the 357th's 42 aces against the general history of the group in action. As might be expected, the book is bursting with combat reports and very basic biographical info on Yoxford aces like Pete Peterson, John England, Kit Carson, Bud Anderson and Chuck Yeager. The 357th had more aces than any other 8th AF FG, scored at a faster rate than any other group during the last year of the war and claimed the highest number of kills - 56.5 - in a single mission. So, if you're an air combat junkie like me, MUSTANG ACES OF THE 357TH FIGHTER GROUP will do just fine, thank you.
Given the amount of 357th material in print, many of the photographs in the book have been seen before. Chris Davey's always-great artwork however really spotlights the Group's P-51s in all their glory.
Depending on how long you've been interested in 8th AF fighter combat, you may view Bucholtz's book as "yet another 357th book" or "a nicely-done volume on the Yoxford aces." Each to his own.
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