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Brulle, Robert V. Angels Zero: P-47 Close Air Support in Europe. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.
Robert Brulle was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot with the Ninth Air Force in the ETO and flew seventy ground support missions with the 366th Fighter Group, notably during the Battle of the Huertgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge. Like many pilots, he kept a journal of his daily adventures. Unlike some memoirs which focus exclusively on the author's own little slice of the war, Brulle expands his story to include the Fighter Group's activities and the wider context of the war in western Europe, all based on post-war research and interviews with American and German airmen. This is a well-done book which far transcends the run-of-the-mill "it was a tough mission; afterwards I had some chow and went to the USO show" genre of aviation memoirs.
Tanner, Stephen. Refuge from the Reich: American Airmen and Switzerland during World War II. Rockville Centre, NY: Sarpedon, 2000.
This is not the first book about American airmen interned by European neutrals. (See, for example, Making for Sweden, part two: The United States Air Force by Widfeldt and Wegmann.) It's not even the first book about Yank fliers interned in Switzerland. (See, for example, Strangers in a Strange Land, volume II: Escape to Neutrality by Stapfer and Kunzle.) This is, however, a comprehensive examination not only of the American planes that landed in Switzerland and their interned crewsmore than 1700 airmenbut also the larger issues of Swiss policies and relations between Switzerland and the United States in regard to the flyers. Tanner's book succeeds at the personal level of young fliers sitting out the remainder of the war in a foreign land and at the level of a small, encircled state defending its neutrality. A good job on an interesting topic.
Smith, J. Richard and Eddie J. Creek. Me 262, volume three. Crowborough, England: Classic Publications, 2000.
ISBN 1 903223 00 8
Volume one and volume two of Smith and Creek's Me 262 series from Classic Publications were very well-received by reviewers and readers in 1998, both copping Top Ten awards for that year. After an interval of about two years, the third volume of the series finally arrived, and it was worth the wait! Volume three picks up with Chapter Fourteen and page 450, offering the same engaging mixture of text, photos, color plates, diagrams, line drawings, sidebars, and more. Like the first two volumes, the new book has been lavished with careful craftsmanship; it's a pleasure to see a book which can be simultaneously so informative and so gorgeous. The fourth and concluding volume of the series, by the way, is tentatively due within a few weeks.
Hammel, Eric. Aces against Japan: The American Aces Speak, volume I. Pacifica, CA: Pacifica Press, 2000.
While the other three books covered here look at air action in Europe, the final book on the agenda features aerial dogfights in the Pacific. Originally published in 1992 by Presidio Press, and part of Hammel's larger series of American Aces titles (including volume three and volume four), this book brings together forty first-hand accounts from American fighter pilots. The stories open with 2nd Lt. Frank Holmes getting into the air against the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and then move on to venues familiar and exotic: Java, Thailand, Port Moresby, Midway, China, the Solomons, and many more. The action is pretty much non-stop, pausing only long enough for Hammel to interject brief explanatory notes at the beginning of each chapter and a quick biography of the pilot before he gets into the air. It's damn hard not to enjoy these rousing tales of air-to-air combat told in the words of the men who actually flew the missions.
All of these books are worth a look, and all are available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from the publishers.
Reviewed 21 January 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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