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Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictorial History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II Hardcover – September 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; 1st edition (September 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760342504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760342503
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a magnificent account of the most famous U.S. Marine squadron of the second world war. It is a delight to own, to look at, and (best of all) to read. And since Gamble is first of all an author, the text isn’t just an afterthought, it’s a well-written history of VMF-214, both before and after the squadron became famous." - Smithsonian Air & Space magazine
"... a comprehensive illustrated history of the squadron..." - Pacific Flyer


"When we're still learning things about the Civil War 150 years later, it should be little surprise to find new material from World War II. But Bruce Gamble's fabulous treatment of the Black Sheep sets a new standard for 'above and beyond' his previous definitive treatments of VMF-214. Combining insightful text with a fabulous collection of photos and high-quality art, this book raises the bar in a field that routinely sees new material and fresh interpretations. An absolute treasure." - Barrett Tillman, author of Enterprise:America’s Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War



"This is an excellent book appropriately produced during the Marine Corps Aviation Centennial. The photographs and text pay tribute to a proud squadron, its history and to the men who served in it since 1942. This is a book Marine Corp fans will enjoy." - Tailhook Association Magazine The Hook

From the Inside Flap

From a humble beginning in mid-1942, VMF-214 became the most famous U.S. fighter squadron of World War II. The pilots’ reputation grew as they transitioned from flying Wildcats to the iconic gull-winged Corsairs and became the Swashbucklers, going head-to-head with the skilled pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the early days of the Solomon Islands campaign. The squadron’s fame really took off when Maj. Gregory Boyington, a hard-drinking former Flying Tiger, formed an all-new unit from a group of hand-picked pilots. They chose a new nickname: the Black Sheep.
 
During two combat tours spanning eighty-four days, the Black Sheep established a blistering record against the tenacious Japanese—first in the skies over the fabled islands of New Georgia and Bougainville, and later over the stronghold of Rabaul, New Britain. Tangling in dogfights that sometimes involved as many as two hundred planes, the Black Sheep were officially credited with ninety-seven aerial victories and another thirty-five enemy planes probably destroyed. No fewer than nine Black Sheep became aces, including Greg Boyington, who earned a Medal of Honor on his way to becoming the Marine Corps’ top gun.
 
Black Sheep expert Bruce Gamble draws on years of research and personal interviews with VMF-214 veterans for Swashbucklers and Black Sheep, as well as wartime diaries, reports, and photographs, including rare color shots of the squadron. Dramatic paintings, some specially commissioned for this book, capture the squadron in action in the air and their camaraderie on the ground. Swashbucklers and Black Sheep also provides an overview of the squadron’s post–World War II service, from Korea to Vietnam to numerous deployments in the Middle East, making this the definitive illustrated history of the squadron.


More About the Author

A disabled veteran and cancer survivor, Bruce Gamble has used an ultra-light wheelchair for much of his adult life, but it hasn't slowed him down. He's also an award-winning author and historian who travels widely, whether conducting research and interviews for his nonfiction books, giving public presentations, or sitting in front of the camera for a documentary.

Raised in Pennsylvania, Bruce served as a Naval Flight Officer from 1980 to 1988, deploying aboard aircraft carriers in the Pacific and Indian Oceans during the closing years of the Cold War. Diagnosed with a malignant spinal cord tumor, Bruce underwent a complicated surgery and was medically retired in 1989. Soon thereafter he began volunteering at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida, and later worked part-time for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. After several years as the staff historian, Bruce made the leap to freelance writing and published his first book, The Black Sheep (Presidio Press), in 1998.

With six titles now in print, Bruce is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the most respected authorities on World War II in the Pacific. His narrative style and depth of research have earned critical acclaim in numerous publications. Bruce also does a substantial amount of public speaking and is listed among the distinguished historians in the American History Forum. In addition, he is featured in documentaries produced by the History Channel, Fox News Channel, PBS, and the Pritzker Military Library.

The winner of two literary awards in 2010 and a Florida Book Award in 2013, Bruce is a member of the Authors Guild and holds life memberships in the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America. Cancer-free for more than 25 years, he lives near Panama City, Florida.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Great book, lots of good photo's and information.
Lynette Gruber
Ever since I watched "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" on TV in the 1970's, I've been in love with VMF-214 and the F4U Corsair.
Marc L. Tavasci
Where the book really shines is in the illustrations.
Michael OConnor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Meikle on September 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have always had a great interest in the Black Sheep Squadron and I have read and enjoyed all of Bruce Gamble's books on the subject. I was thrilled to hear that he was going to present a pictorial book on the subject and when I got a copy, I was not disappointed.

I have lots of books on World War II aviation and I have seen a lot of the same photos get used over and over. What is so exciting about this book is that fact that Bruce has been able to source so many previously unseen photos that were taken by members of the Black Sheep themselves while serving in the Solomon Islands, both in their training areas and at their forward bases. He also managed to get quite a few interesting photos of the two combat tours of the Swashbucklers, the previous incarnation of VMF-214. In addition there are really nice selections of photos of the post-Pappy Black Sheep working up to combat readiness in California and their deployment to the USS Franklin. Though the book is mostly focused on World War II, the photos of the Korean War, Vietnam, and present day deployments are much appreciated.

The book is lavishly illustrated with some really nice paintings of both the Black Sheep and Swashbucklers in action. There are also quite a few aircraft profiles that illustrate the various color schemes of the aircraft flown by and against the 214. This book will be a great reference to aviation artists and model builders. The large format of the book allows for nice, big reproductions of the photos, paintings, and aircraft profiles and shows a great amount of detail. Some of these photos were printed in Bruce's previous books, but in this large format, they really come to life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael OConnor TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Marine Fighting Squadron 214 is the most famous USMC fighter squadron in history. Although irrevocably linked in the public's mind with Pappy Boyington, VMF-214 is actually a long-lived unit, having been periodically inactivated/reformed over the years. Originally commissioned in 1942, the squadron is still in existence flying Harriers! Noted aviation author Bruce Gamble and Zenith Press combine talents to present a wonderfully-illustrated photo-tribute to that illustrious unit.

Commissioned in July 1942, the original version of -214, nicknamed 'The Swashbucklers,' flew combat from Guadalcanal in F4Fs and later F4Us. Following two combat tours, the unit was broken up and then reconstituted. The 'new' VMF-214 took the old unit's aircraft, acquired a new CO - Boyington - and was staffed by pilots from the USMC replacement pool. Now known as 'Boyington's Black Sheep,' they became legends in their own time, being credited with 97 e/a in two combat tours. Reformed in early 1944, the unit logged an abbreviated combat tour onboard USS Franklin. The unit later served in the Korean War, Vietnam War and Afghanistan.

Gamble has written two previous VMF-214 books: THE BLACK SHEEP and BLACK SHEEP ONE, a biography of Boyington. Consequently, SWASHBUCKLERS AND BLACK SHEEP makes no claims to being an exhaustive retelling of the Black Sheep legend. Rather the text serves as a comprehensive, compelling summary of -214's life and times.

Where the book really shines is in the illustrations. Gamble's book is filled with hundreds of well-reproduced b&w and color photographs covering -214's long career. Likewise, the book includes eight VMF-214 combat scenes by such noted artists as Bob Shaw, Craig Kodera and Jim Laurier and 12 color side-profiles of F4Us, Zeroes, Bettys, etc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David B. Waples on September 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've read most of Bruce's books and love them all. I was introduced to Bruce through my friend Henry Bourgeois who flew with Boyington on his first tour with the Black Sheep. Bruce became the historian of this famous squadron and has respectfully and accurately told their story. When I saw Bruce was in town to sign this new book I had to go check it out and say hello. As mentioned by other reviewers Bruce has collected and presented a wonderful selection of high quality and not seen before photographs, paintings, and art work. In additional he has faithfully included history of the squadron from its beginning flying the F4F-3 Wildcats, to its transition to the F4U-1 through the USS Franklin tragedy. The book finishes off with history of the squadron post WWII starting with Korea to modern day. It's all there. By the time you finish reading this book you'll want to go back and read Bruce's other books.

As a scale modeler I can not over emphasize what a great resource this book is. There is so much valuable detail in these well reproduced photos that I had not picked up on before.

In my opinion this is a must have book whether you are a historian or modeler. For the quality of this book I would have expected to pay twice the price. You will not be disappointed. I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Dave Waples
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marc L. Tavasci on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since I watched "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" on TV in the 1970's, I've been in love with VMF-214 and the F4U Corsair. It was tough finding out later much of the TV show was fiction, which is why this book is so wonderful. Bruce Gamble has covered the Black Sheep both before and after the time they were commanded by Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, and he's shed some light on other members of the squadron as well as providing some further insights into the complex character which Boyington was. Coupled with the special artwork and a ton of fantastic pictures and you have a book which is a must-have for anyone who was a fan of the TV show, loves Marine Corps aviation, is a fan of the Corsair or just a military enthusiast. Simply splendid!
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