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Fighter Command: American Fighters in Original WWII Color Hardcover – July 1, 1991
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Contrary to the impression left by most World War II books, the war was not fought in black and white. The planes, the people and the times were the most colorful in history.
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Blue skies, Jeff !
' Edward P Giller, P-38 pilot, 55th Fighter Group... Flying around 30,000 feet resulted in extreme fouling of the plugs in the Allison engine as well as a great number of thrown rods and swallowed valves. Needless to say, a P-38 on a single engine was in an unenviable condition. Our record during this period was very poor, about 1.5 Germans shot down to each American lost to all causes...
The maintenance on the P-38 was something to behold. The engines were extremely close-cowled with much piping and no space. The mechanics did a magnificent job with extremely long hours of trying tediously to fix coolant leaks, rough engines, etc. It was truly a crew chief's nightmare....' (pp 58-9)
And let us salute the drivers of those Red Cross coffee vans, not 'Girls', but volunteers who knew more about the squadrons than anyone:
'Jan Houston Monahan, 55th Fighter Group... When the winter winds whistled across the airfield, Nelle and I found our slacks and jackets weren't very warm. Feeling sorry for the Red Cross girls, the men at Air Corps Supply issued us leather fleece-lined flying suits and boots that were no longer being worn by the pilots since P-51s replaced the P-38s. We resembled funny brown bears as we plodded around but we were warm!' (pp 104-5)
There is a lengthy recollection from John Blyth, a Spitfire pilot of the 7th Photo Group, (p. 167):
'...All of my missions were unarmed and without fighter escort. Robert R. Smith and Waldo Bruns failed to return from a mission to the Polish border. Glenn Wiebe was then sent in and he failed to return... I was next, going to Ruhland synthetic oil refinery (Polish border) and Kermit Bliss would be behind me... My thoughts were of the three [pilots] that hadn't come back and what might have happened to them. Also, Glenn Wiebe and I had started first grade together in Dallas, Oregon, and what a coincidence it might be if the Germans also got me.
Near Dresden I saw a factory that had been bombed and figured I would make a pass across it and save someone a trip. It probably saved my life! As I rolled into a turn to align the target and turned on my cameras, I noticed an aircraft diving and closing rapidly on my tail. He must have been above me and I missed him. At first I thought it was a jet because of the black exhaust trail. It was an Me 109 with a yellow prop spinner and yellow and orange checkered nose. There might have been others. In a Spit, the throttle was full forward at altitude so I pushed full forward on the propeller control to pick up speed. I flew straight and level and played like I didn't see him. He probably figured he had another victory for the Fatherland and was about to squeeze the trigger when I pulled back abruptly on the stick. Then and there we must have parted company. When I rolled into a turn and looked down, he was underneath me. The climb at that altitude [30,000] surprised me. Any other evasive maneuver and he probably would have nailed me....'
And I have not told you about the propeller mechanics, or those who painted the colorful logos, flew air/sea rescue or ... Shoot! I just glanced at the picture of Mt. Vesuvius erupting on p. 34-- one of the most dramatic images in the book.
Printed on glossy paper, in a 10" x 10" format.
It WWII as you're not used to seeing it (unless you were there, I suppose).