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Hell Hawks!: The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht Hardcover – June 15, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Checkpoints
"The product of four years of research, [Hell Hawks!] doesn't merely entertain with 'I was there' tales of intrepid aviators, it takes the reader back to a time of our 'greatest generation,' and puts one alongside boys just out of their teens, uprooted from their peacetime lives and thrust, for example, into the cauldron of the Battle of the Bulge...gripping, accurate, and engaging."

From the Inside Flap

Hell Hawks! is the story of a band of young American pilots and their gritty, close-quarters fight against Hitler’s vaunted military. The Hell Hawks were the 365th Fighter Group, three squadrons of fighter-bomber pilots. Beginning just prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944, these pilots fresh from flight training in the United States (most were barely twenty years old), flew in close support of Eisenhower’s ground forces as they advanced across France and into Germany.

 

They flew the rugged, heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt—affectionately known as “the Jug”—a big tub of a plane that could absorb a pounding from the enemy and still fly back home. Living in tents amid the cold mud of their front-line airfields, the 365th’s daily routine had much in common with the GIs they supported. During their year in combat, the Hell Hawks paid a heavy price for the Nazi surrender on May 8, 1945. Sixty-nine pilots and airmen died in the fight across the continent. The Group’s 1,241 combat missions forged bonds between these men that remain strong sixty years later. Many of them were interviewed for this book, bringing the Hell Hawks’ fight against the Reich to life in their own words.

 

Robert F. Dorr is an Air Force veteran (Korea, 1957–1960), a retired senior American diplomat (1964–1989), and the author of sixty books and thousands of magazine articles and newspaper columns about the Air Force and air warfare. In the past year, Bob has written for Air and Space Smithsonian, Flight Journal, Air Forces Monthly, Air Power History, and many other publications. He is a columnist for Air Force Times newspaper and writes the Washington Watch feature for Aerospace America magazine. His recent book, Air Force One, a history of presidential aircraft and air travel, has been praised by critics. Bob lives in Oakton, Virginia, with his family and their Labrador retriever.

 

Thomas D. Jones, PhD, is a veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, speaker, author, and consultant. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and during eleven years with NASA flew on four space shuttle missions, totaling fifty-three days in space. Tom is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and piloted B-52D strategic bombers prior to joining NASA’s astronaut corps. He has written about space exploration and aviation history in Air and Space Smithsonian, Aerospace America, and Popular Mechanics. He is the co-author of two young adult books, Mission: Earth and The Scholastic Encyclopedia of the United States at War, as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to NASA. His autobiography is Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir. Tom is a regular on-air contributor for Fox News Channel’s spaceflight coverage and lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; 1st edition (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760329184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760329184
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harry Strahlendorf on July 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hell Hawks! brings to life the air war in Europe, using daily missions of the 365th Fighter Group, 9th US Air Force. My dad flew a P-47 Thunderbolt with the 371st FG, and was lost on a mission over Cherbourg two weeks after the D-Day Normandy Landings. There are many books out that tell the story of our heroes on the beaches. We thirsted for one that describes the "band of brothers" who took part in the Liberation of Europe from the air. Now we have one! Anyone interested in a detailed history of one group that was so typical of all should have this tome!
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Format: Hardcover
As the owner of many of Bob Dorr's books, I have come to expect that anything he produces will be well-researched, well-presented, and very well-written. "Hell Hawks!" is right up there not only with Dorr's other works but with the best in Be There combat writing. Here's an example: "The German pilot ran flat-out low...threading the needle between a church steeple and tall brick smokestack. Narrow streets raced under the wings of Kraman's P-47 as he engaged the throttle button triggering emergency water injection. His Pratt & Whitney surged as Kraman squeezed off short bursts at his quarry, the enemy banking abruptly left and right to throw off the American's aim. Across the Rhine, farther into Germany, the pair raced east..."

Dorr and co-author Thomas D. Jones (USAF Academy grad, ex-B-52 driver, veteran of four NASA space shuttle flights) also rightly recognize the guys who weren't strapping into the 365th Fighter Group's P-47s: "The men with stripes on their arms didn't pilot Jugs, but they made warfare in the Jug possible." We tend to forget that the aircraft of WW II, after all, were just 15 years removed from Lindbergh's Ryan NYP of 1927 but were very complex machines. The authors salute the men with the stripes well.

The results of close to 200 interviews of 365th FG veteans, other combat vets, family members, and more, plus four years of research, "Hell Hawks!" is loaded with the day-to-day details of fighting a tenaciously fierce enemy, demonstrating throughout the book that ground attack combat was a deadly way to earn your flight pay. The authors bring the personalities of the young pilots alive as well as provide a big picture of Allied strategy and the pace of war from D-Day to victory. This is an excellent book not only for military historians but for anyone who enjoys aviation writers at the top of their game. Splendid!
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Format: Hardcover
The P-47 fighter-bomber story and all that surrounds it -- the plane and the men that it served -- are brought to life in Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones's new book, "Hell Hawks!" Mr. Jones, a veteran astronaut, B-52D pilot, on Kindle see his Marine Air: The History of the Flying Leathernecks in Words and Photos, and Mr. Dorr, a former senior diplomat, are veteran authors in the field of aviation history and space exploration. In this book, they give us drama and emotion, a powerful sense of history combined with illuminating action.

Dorr and Jones's well-told story belies the cliche about Flying Fortresses and Mustangs winning the war: Their narrative is absorbing and enjoyable to read.

Introducing the voices of numerous pilots, ground crewmen, and enemies, Dorr and Jones blend a trove of original interviews to create an air men's history of the 365th Fighter Group and the vast destruction it wrought.

Chronicling the Thunderbolt's interdiction war makes for an exciting narrative. It brings new light to the historical importance of ground attacks by fighter-bombers that wielded great devastation on German military forces.

The term for fighter-bombers -- or what authors Dorr and Jones, using the German's own coinage, have called "Jabos" -- are tactical ground attack aircraft such as the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik, RAF Hawker Typhoon, and the USAAF Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

But, for all its familiarity and indisputable greatness, the P-47 Thunderbolt's beginnings and the development of its mission are not generally understood in comparison to the glamous North American P-51 Mustang.
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Format: Hardcover
365th veteran Charles Johnson wrote his comprehensive "History of the Hell Hawks" in the early '70s but only a limited number were published and if a copy can be found, it is very expensive. This new look at the group reasserts the history of this important outfit into the public eye. More importantly, the authors captured more personal stories of the 365th members that otherwise would soon be lost forever. For those who don't want to read through a long boring group history, this is the book for you! It is very well written and fast paced. I thank the authors for this wonderful work. Jay Jones, author of "The 370th Fighter Group in World War II".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cons: The arrangement of the narrative is often awkward. Parts are repetitious.
Pros: The research is fantastic, as are the interviews. Includes some previously unseen photos, occasional map. The author makes clear the mortality rate of not only combat flying, but from operational and training accidents as well. The Hell Hawks operated from primitive fields close to the front and were the terror of German ground forces, as well as enthusiastically tangling with German fighters, including ME-262s. Pilots tell of surviving being shot down, evading, being captured, dropping napalm on Germans, blowing up trains, lots of flack, etc. There are some interviews with the enemy as well, describing what it was like to be extremely paranoid of Jabos. The narrative and interviews clearly show the development of tactics and skills learned the hard way as the war progressed. It's incredible stuff even if you're not particularly interested in Thunderbolts.
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