From Publishers Weekly
Only one U.S. air squadron has ever been featured in a network TV show: Marine Fighter Squadron 214, which, along with its commander, Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, became familiar through the 1970s series Baa, Baa, Black Sheep. The squadron completed two tours in the Solomon Islands and compiled a distinguished combat record before Boyington re-formed it in August 1943 in response to a temporary shortage of fighter squadrons in the Solomons. The new pilots, Gamble shows, were neither youngsters nor misfits as portrayed in Boyington's memoirs and the TV scripts. Gamble, a retired naval officer, describes the equipment, doctrine, operational conditions and personal relationships that shaped the squadron from its creation in 1942 through its Solomons experiences, to its recommissioning and assignment to the carrier Franklin. The war ended for the squadron when Franklin was crippled by a Japanese bomber in March 1945. According to Gamble, Boyington's achievements as squadron leader were substantial, if not as prodigious as he claimed. Boyington emerges here as an alcoholic egomaniac but also as a first-class pilot who earned the respect, though not always the admiration, of his men until he was shot down and captured in January 1944. A sensitive revision of a controversial legend, this book stands out as one of the best extant squadron histories and as a significant contribution to the literature on air power. 43 b&w photos and five maps.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Marine Fighting Squadron 214 has gone down in history as the Black Sheep, thanks to the colorful memoirs of its best-known commander, the ace Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. Exuberantly unreliable, those memoirs covered only one of the squadron's three incarnations. In the first, the squadron, cobbled together in the war's desperate early days, was known as the Swashbucklers and saw combat at Guadalcanal. In the second phase, the group of respectable replacements was assigned the squadron number and made a mighty name as the Black Sheep under Boyington, despite his drinking and brawling. Version three was a late-war collection of marine pilots that was knocked out of action on its first day in combat by the damage to its carrier, the USS Franklin
. A model, warts-and-all unit history, Gamble's retires all previous books on squadron 214, showing that Boyington was not the only oddball in it and that the early Corsair fighter was nearly as dangerous to its pilots as to the Japanese. World War II, marine, and aviation collections--acquire! Roland Green