Written on: 28/04/2012
As the owner of many of Bob Dorr's books, I have come to expect that antyhing 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!