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Hell Hawks!: The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht Hardcover – June 15, 2008
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"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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Top customer reviews
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.
I look at HH! as a story of flexibility, of an organization that practiced a new way to fight the enemy (without churning up the terrain by massive artillery barrages). They became the artillery, and dished out some of the medicine that the Stuka was famous for.
Years ago, I listened to an elderly glider pilot. He had been in the 9th A.F. and he observed: 'we always had replacement planes, but sometimes with the pace of operations, we ran short of pilots'. It rocked me. The war consumed pilots as fast as G.I.s. But we look back on WW II as a quick termination to a cancerous regime. It had to be done; think of this book as the sort of stories you'd hear if you attended a unit reunion.
This was a different war than I had learned at my father's knee. His war was spent in the trenches and on the march in Europe. Yet I recognized many of the battles and landscape.
This book goes into my favorites to read again.
Their job was to support ground forces in their fight across France, Belgium and Germany by knocking out enemy strong points, disrupting enemy resupply efforts, and keeping the sky free of German aircraft.
This book tells their as story in a fast-paced manner. The authors know their subject so nd interviewed survivors to tell a story not often told.