American Nightfighter Aces of World War 2
Contributor: David Stubblebine
Review Date: 10 Oct 2008
Imagine yourself being asked to put on a blindfold, run around your neighborhood as fast as you can, and play a game of Tag with someone else in a blindfold. This is close to what the nightfighter pilots were asked to do, except faster, deadlier, and in three dimensions.
American Nightfighter Aces of World War 2 is #84 in Osprey's "Aircraft of the Aces" line. This book is very typical of the entire Osprey collection in that it is concise, authoritative, complete as to topic, and well illustrated with period photographs not often seen from other sources.
American pilots were involved in nightfighter operations from the earliest days, with Eagle Squadron aviators flying with the RAF & RCAF even before Pearl Harbor, so the story of the American nightfighters is the story of the entire development of the nightfighter role. They had no radar as we now it today; in fact, the bulk of the airborne radar development – from zero to fully operational – came as the direct result of these World War II missions.
As the name indicates, this book is about the nightfighter aces; the men themselves who flew these specialized missions and achieved excellence at it. Besides the fact that all of these pilots' work was necessarily done in the dark, the aircraft technology involved was at the leading edge of wartime secrecy and so much of what these brave flyers did went into history with a haze of uncertainty surrounding it. American Nightfighter Aces of World War 2 changes all that.
As this book tells the story of American night-flyers from the England to Burma, from North Africa to New Guinea, it carries between the lines the evolution of the specialized aircraft, the history of the secret technologies, and, indeed, the progress of the war. Andrew Thomas & Warren Thompson present great detail about the nightfighters' achievements that would not likely be found in another single source. As I would with every other Osprey book I have encountered, I would recommend this book for the bookshelves of anyone interested in WWII generally and WWII aerial activities in particular.
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