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Intrepid Aviators: The True Story of U.S.S. Intrepid's Torpedo Squadron 18 and Its Epic Clash With the Superbattleship Musashi Hardcover – July 3, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Intrepid Aviators provides a rare look at a successful but little-appreciated unit in the Pacific War. Torpedo Squadron 18 within USS Intrepid's Air Group 18 flew attack missions against the Japanese Empire's far-flung bases in the Western Pacific during 1944, and contributed to sinking the battleship Musashi, one of the two largest ships built to that time. Fletcher portrays the men of Torpedo 18 as recognizable individuals whom the reader comes to know, to admire—and too often, to mourn.”
— Barrett Tillman, Author of Whirlwind and Enterprise

“Gregory Fletcher's enthralling Intrepid Aviators beautifully recreates the epic clash between the USS Intrepid's Torpedo Squadron 18 and the Japanese battleship Musashi, one of the most important engagements of World War II. A thrilling, deeply moving literary memorial to the American flyboys whose immense sacrifice and courage really did change the world.”
— Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Longest Winter

Intrepid Aviators is an incredibly well-researched story. Its scope is awesome and the writing superb…One easily can feel the intensity in the cockpit of an Avenger as it makes its torpedo run at 300 feet…against a twisting and turning battleship with all guns blazing…the book is as exciting as any novel.”— Washington Times

"Intepid Aviators stands out from more standard historical treatments of World War II...this book is an impressive production."--Knoxville News Sentinel

"The author is to be congratulated for his effective introduction to naval warfare and the men who were doing the fighting. For anyone who wonders why Navy pilots were so good in the last half of the war, this book provides a detailed answer...this book is a must read."--St. Joseph News-Press

About the Author

Gregory G. Fletcher served as a naval aviator from 1969 to 1974, and is now a practicing attorney. He is the son of USS Intrepid pilot Will Fletcher, who was awarded a Navy Cross of heroism for his actions in World War II.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451236963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451236968
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,047,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mike O'Connor TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Though Navy torpedo bomber squadrons played a major role in the Allied victory in the Pacific, such units haven't received their due in print, histories of VT squadrons being few and far in between. Gregory Fletcher's newly-published INTREPID AVIATORS, however, presents readers with a rare, detailed portrait of one such squadron - VT-18 - as it waged war across the Pacific in 1944.

In INTREPID AVIATORS, Fletcher, a gifted writer, skillfully weaves three storylines to produce a compelling account of carrier combat in the Pacific. Most prominently, INTREPID AVIATORS is the story of Fletcher's father, Willard M. Fletcher, a VT-18 Grumman Avenger pilot assigned to Air Group 18 on board CV-11 in 1944. Along with describing his father's service with VT-18, Gregory Fletcher details Air Group 18's combat record while on board USS Intrepid. Interwoven with those story elements is Fletcher's account of the ever-evolving American and Japanese strategies that shaped combat in the Pacific, strategies that eventually resulted in Will Fletcher and other Air Group 18 aircrew attacking the Japanese super-battleship Musashi on 24 October 1944 in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea.

Aside from being an exciting account of young men at war, INTREPID AVIATORS furnishes a wealth of information on carrier ops circa 1944, shipboard life, etc. The book shifts back and forth between American and Japanese participants to give an informed and well-rounded picture of unfolding events.

Bottom line: INTREPID AVIATORS is a great read. The reader gets to know Will Fletcher and his squadronmates as living, breathing human beings, young men barely out of their teens who found themselves waging a pitiless war over the vast Pacific distances. INTREPID AVIATORS is a fine tribute to the squadron, air group and the carrier they flew from. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I have a long standing interest in World War Two military aviation and regard this as one of the very best books I've ever read about the subject.The descriptions of carrier flight operations couldn't be more vivid and realistic, and do an excellent job of conveying the stress and tension of the daily lives of the pilots and aircrewmen.
The squadron chronicled in this book richly deserved to have it's story told. Of twenty eight pilots embarked, fifteen won the Navy Cross. One of them was the author's own father, and he deserves great credit for relating his father's exploits with such matter of fact objectivity.The story of the elder Mr. Fletcher's shoot down and eventual rescue practically merits a book of it's own.
I do note a couple of errors that World War Two naval aviators would have caught. Student pilots flew their trainers from the cockpit where they would fly when soloing. In the case of the Stearman, this places the student in the rear cockpit with the instructor up front, not the other way around. Also, the outstanding SNJ trainers flown by the Navy in WW II were built by North American, not Boeing.The two companies were eventually combined in a corporate merger in the 1990s but this was fifty years after the wartime aircraft were built. These minor mistakes are easily corrected in a second printing and would raise an outstanding book almost to the level of perfection.
I wish the author's father could have lived to see the book in print - highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've seen many movies and read many stories about operations in the Pacific, but I have never read anything quite like this. The author brought the pilots to life and treated them with such respect. I have always know it is difficult to fly from an aircraft carrier, but this book does a great job of explaining the technical side of flying from a ship without boring the reader to tears. There is a great combination of technical detail, individual story lines and overall historical context. Well worth the time to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Intrepid Aviators takes the reader deep inside the Intrepid's air combat missions with a highly detailed focus on the brave torpedo bombers. Mr. Fletcher practically gives the reader flying lessons with his macro and (more frequently) microscopic descriptions of how the Avenger flew and fought. One quickly comes to identify with and root for the pilots and their crews, whose assignments ranged from challenging to close to impossible. It is easy to feel each casualty personally and to wish it were possible to rewrite history and allow more of these incredible men to return to their families after the war. My one lingering question mark surrounded how the author was able to accumulate the massive amount of mission details and the minute by minute circumstances of his father's crash, rescue, and service with the Filipinos. I saw no mention of a diary or the multiple recountings of his experiences that would seem necessary to capture his experiences so vividly. In any case, the book reads very well and lays out a fascinating piece of U.S. naval history.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this work. It is a tribute to all the sailors and naval aviators that served in the Pacific in WWII. The story line delves into the exploits of Torpedo Squadron 18, and into the lives of several of the members of that squadron assigned to the USS Intrepid during the height of the Philippines Campaign of WWII, and in particular the author's father, Willard M. Fletcher. It follows the squadron from inception through the air strikes on the Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea and the battle's aftermath. It gives the reader a picture on a personal level and almost daily basis what these brave young men faced in training, work up, and deployment to combat operations. I recommended this book if you like squadron histories written with a personal flavor by those that were there. It is obviously a product of extensive research and interview with the few surviving members of the squadron.

On the down side, there are a few technical errors that a good military editor should have caught, they are not fatal, but do make you pause to think: did I just read that? One that I remember clearly refers to a 12.7 cm AAA as a 4" gun. It's 5", distracting to the knowledgeable reader none the less. There were several more I noted, but I digress.

If you're interested in naval aviation of WWII, and especially the often obscure exploits of the torpedo bomber squadrons, I think you'll want to read this book. Greg, a nice tribute, I'm sure your father is proud.
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