Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler’s Wehrmacht

Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones are veteran writers and former military men who collected information and memoirs from the men of the Ninth Air Force, 365th Fighter Group, who flew P-47 Thunderbolt planes.

The 365th was composed of three squadrons of fighter-bomber pilots fresh out of flight training, who flew in close support of the ground forces as the Allied forces entered France on D-Day and advanced across France, Belgium, and on into Germany. They had one mission, and that was to harass and destroy anything that looked Nazi.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was a big, stable plane that held up remarkably well, no matter how much flak was thrown at it. They flew on D-Day, providing air support and dropping 385 tons of bombs on anything that looked like a target and strafing anything that moved. Every day of the European campaign, the Hell Hawks flew their missions, and kept flying them until the war ended. This book tells the story of those fighter pilots and what it took to keep them in the air.

My father, a “civilian pilot” and a Hell Hawk in the 388th Fighter Squadron, found himself captain of one of the ground crews whose responsibility it was to keep the planes in repair, the runways ready, the and the pilots ready to fly. One of his favorite tales was the day the pilots ate a rice pudding dessert the night before and fled the mess hall during breakfast the next morning. He spent his day carrying soup to the pilots as they lay ill in bed, in a vain attempt to get them ready to fly the day’s mission. (My father rarely ate much and had given the rice pudding a pass.) The pilots could not fly the mission, the “Brass” descended on the outfit, and the cook was busted and reassigned.

This book is extremely readable and tells the tale of these ordinary men who found themselves in an extraordinary situation, and in true American fashion, they made the best of it. Mr. Dorr & Mr. Thomas interviewed many of them, including my dad, for as Mr. Dorr says, these men are fading away rapidly now, and their biannual reunions are much more sparse. This is the story of hometown heroes, who did extraordinary things during their youth, then returned home and reared families and lived ordinary lives.

I recommend Hell Hawks! to all who enjoy World War II history.


Molly Noble Bull said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Sounds like you had an interesting dad.
Thanks for telling us about both.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

From Robert Dorr, one of the authors of Hell Hawks!

Dear Friends,

We'd love to have your support for our book "HELL HAWKS."

"HELL HAWKS" is our Stephen Ambrose-style history of a World War II "band of brothers with planes." In their words, P-47 Thunderbolt pilots and ground crewmen describe the war nobody told you about, fought at the front lines on the European continent during the winter of 1944-45.

The book is a great piece of Air Force history and a great gift for a World War II history buff. It's suitable for young readers. It's widely recognized as the best book about the P-47.

We have a chapter about fighting the German jets. A chapter compares the P-47 to the Messerschmitt 109 and Focke-Wulf 190. But it's the ground war that makes this such a great air story: Our guys went ashore at Normandy and fought across Europe into the Battle of the Bulge.

Co-author Thomas D. Jones (Tom) and I spent five years researching and interviewing 171 of these ordinary men who became heroes. Tom is an Air Force Academy graduate and former B-52 pilot and astronaut who flew four shuttle missions. I'm an Air Force veteran, retired U. S. diplomat, and author. I write for Air Force Times, Aerospace America magazine and other publications.

"HELL HAWKS" uses never before published photos and first-hand personal accounts. You can get a personalized copy from me.

If you'd like a copy inscribed by both authors, send me a check for $ 31.64, for the book, an inscription from the authors, and priority mail packaging. Overseas shipping is slightly higher. Send me an e-mail message or call me on the phone at any time. If you'd like a book, remind me of your address.

Best wishes


Robert F. Dorr
3411 Valewood Drive
Oakton, Virginia 22124
(703) 264-8950