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Nightfighter: Radar Intercept Killer Hardcover – February 7, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

During World War II, the job of a nightfighter was akin to a deadly game of hide-and-seek in a pitch-black sky. Each pilot's life literally depended on his radio link to support personnel on the ground. Electrical failures could be catastrophic and engine trouble usually proved fatal. Unlike other fighter pilots, these men had zero visual perspective. Alone in a cockpit, it was easy for their minds to play tricks on them, but for nightfighters, a few moments of vertigo was a death sentence. No one knew this better than then-ranked Lt. Col. Marion Milton "Black Mac" Magruder. His highly classified training program required each of his "scrappers" to identify every part of the cockpit environment by sound, smell, and touch. Strict, innovative, and intense, this no-nonsense marine would lead his men to the Okinawa Campaign, in an emergency deployment after a year in combat, in the longest over-water flight of single-engined fighters in the Pacific Theatre, just to get into the fight. During their time on Okinawa and Engebi, VMF(N)533, also known as Black Mac's Killers, experienced the worst typhoon season the island had seen in several hundred years. They also would become the target of the Giretsu, when the ruthless Japanese suicide warriors attacked Yontan Air Field, the only attack of its kind during the war. And even though the squadron arrived one month after battle commenced, the 533 held the record for all radar-intercept kills. Black Mac's Killers set many records and earned many distinctions during the war, including the Presidential Unit Citation. Mark A. Magruder is the third of five sons born to Col. Milton Marion Magruder, USMC. Because of his military upbringing, his childhood was richly expanded by living in exotic postings across the world. He had the unique opportunity of being a "fly on the wall," when the soldiers mentioned in this book would get together and recount their shared experiences in the privacy of his father's home. Magruder has a wide variety of interests and accomplishments. Some of his works have been shown in major art museums, and he is represented by the Wild Holly Gallery in Carefree, Arizona, for his sculptures and functional art pieces. He has produced a variety of album and singles projects, and a number of his songs have been recorded by various artists. His own album, The Magruder Gang, was produced by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy. He has also had success in the film industry, is a published poet and writer, and has invented assorted automotive and industrial equipment pieces as well as medical items, games, and toys.

From the Back Cover

Marion Milton Magruder, USMC, was one of the first Americans to learn the techniques of Airborne Intercept Radar Night Fighting. He went on to lead a group of pilots barely out of flight school to be "Black Mac's Killers," the top-scoring Night Fighter Squadron in the World War II Pacific Theatre. Filled with action and suspense, this heroic tale is a tribute to those men who cheated death, overcame immeasurable odds, and accomplished what the "experts" believed was impossible. Very little has previously been published about the genesis of U.S. Naval Radar Intercept Night Fighting due to the classified status of the program at the time. This military biography includes never-before-released information from the colonel's private files, VMF(N)533 Squadron war diaries, After-Action Reports, and secret communiqués. Mark A. Magruder is the third of Col. Marion Milton Magruder's five "devil pups." With a wide range of talents, Magruder has been quite successful in the music, film, and arts industries, and also with his writing and professional speaking.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455615315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455615315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,514,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Magruder shares with us information about his father's pre-military life, his training, his mother's role as a Marine Corps Officer's wife. This makes the story multi-dimensional and even more interesting because it isn't just about facts, it's about how the war impacted an entire family.

Magruder was able to get facts directly from his father and men in his squadron, also known as Black Mac's Killers, which adds to the credibility of his book. He was also able to compile lots of details and share information that was previously confidential about the training and missions of nightfighers in the Pacific during WWII. Col. Magruder's squadron became one of the most successful nightfighter squadrons. He is actually the one who set up the U.S. Naval Radar Intercept program.

It was interesting to find out more about the role of a nightfighter. I didn't realize that these men were flying under extreme conditions: pitch black skies, totally depending on the information and communication received from the staff on the ground. Every mistake or problem with the plane could quickly become a life-and-death situation.

My husband mentioned that he liked that Magruder included a lot of dialogues which are often missing in biographies. The fact that Col. Magruder was on General Mitchell's staff at the beginning of the war allows Magruder to include a lot of the background information about the war and how things were developing. There are also references to other major events happening at the same time which gives the reader a great perspective on the chronology of events.
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Format: Hardcover
"Nightfighter" was and is a great read! A study of a man and those around him who arose to the "occasion" when called upon. War, like no other venture, separates the men from the boys. These "Nightfighters" definitely fit into the men category. Having commanded a Company of Army Engineers in the Southeast Asia theater, I can directly relate to the stress singularly visited on a commander in war.

The Author captures this dimension experienced by his father in a manner that does credit to all who have shared the weight of command and been singed by the fires of combat.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This true story of heroism is a direct reflection upon all those American patriots that have served to protect this great Country. Marion M. "Black Mac" Magruder, USMC, was a pioneer in radar intercept night fighting in WWII. His squadron, VMF(N)533, Black Mac's Killers, set all night fighting records in the Pacific Theatre. This book is well researcehed with never before released information directly from the Colonel's personal files. This is an action packed "movie in a book" placing the reader right in the middle of the unfolding combat. This story also reveals how the sacrafice of military service involves the entire family. I recomend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a veteran, I enjoyed reading how these guys used basic things -- primitive really - we take for granted today. They risked their lives for this country making the best of what they had. Good background and details made this book an enjoyable read. I would encourage others to read it too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a retired Naval Aviator the author's description of night and instrument flight were right on. Single engine single pilot flying under those conditions are high stress. A great read.
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Format: Hardcover
Reviewing a book like Nightfighter: Radar Intercept Killer is always a challenge. How do you review, or criticize, a book about an American hero? Until reading Mark Magruder's biography of his father, Marion "Mac" Magruder" I had never heard of the Nightfighter's who fought in WWII. A Nightfighter is, by Mark's definition, a "Fighter pilot specializing in radar intercept night warfare: a combatant." It is highly impressive to consider a fighter pilot who engages in warfare at night, unable to see by the light of day, who relies solely on the accuracy of the instruments on the panel to guide him to victory and safety. I found the story itself impressive and admirable while the writing itself could have benefited from a proofreader or editor.

The story opens by summarizing Mac's completion of high school and entrance into college. His high school principal advised him against college because he wasn't designed for higher education and instead told him he would be well-suited to apply for a city job digging ditches. Upon encouragement from his mother Mac applied to college (at the University of Kentucky), enlisted in the ROTC program his freshman year and found that he felt a calling toward military life. He was highly recruited out of college by the Army, the Navy, and the Marines. The Marines hadn't recruited from UK in 12 years and Mac eagerly accepted their assignment. Mac's future seemed bright. He was a college graduate, engaged to his sweetheart Martha and heading off to bootcamp. I appreciated that Mark summarized this passage of time instead of delving deeply into Mac's childhood and early life. When I read a book like Nightfighter, which is depicted as the story of a military hero, I am anxious to get into the heart of the military experiences.
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