Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones'”Hell Hawks!: The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler’s Wehrmacht” allows you to journey with the 365th Fighter Group from its inception through its training in Richmond, Virginia and Millville, New Jersey across the Atlantic Ocean with on the Queen Elizabeth with 15,000 other soldiers to England where they trained and were based during the invasion. We move to their base in France and experience the close air to ground combat with them as the move across France and ultimately into Germany with a series of bases that that keep them in close support of the ground troops. It tells the story of the air to ground battle. The book is well-researched. Nearly 200 interviews of 365th FG veterans and other combat veterans, plus interviews with family are the fodder for this well written and organized book. I was shocked to learn while reading the book that 15,000 Americans died in aircraft crashes during training and forty percent of the student pilots washed out during training.
The book tells the story of death from above. It is filled with the details of the daily combat and struggles of the “Hell Hawks!” As you read the book you will encounter the people who made up the 365th Fighter Group. I might suggest you begin the book by reading the appendix “What Happened to Them?” It gives a great overview of the key people in the book. Dorr and Jones do a marvelous job of painting the picture of the life and death fighting these young men engaged in on an almost daily basis. I loved the story of George Brooking who later commanded the fighter group. He arrived as a “senior” Captain and experienced fighter pilot having served in the Aleutians. He was shot down on his first mission, survive spending time with the Luxembourg resistance and then returning to take over the Fighter Group. I smiled when I read of Paris in August of 1944 and how few men spent much time on their feet while there. We continue to move up with the troops, survive the Battle of the Bulge, move into Germany and fight Jet airplanes. The group took a large number of causalities before their last combat mission on May 8, 1945.
“Hell Hawks!: The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler’s Wehrmacht” is both an excellent military history, great book for anyone who enjoys flying and aviation writing, and maybe most importantly provides the best story of the air to ground battle. The book forcefully makes the point that the Hell Hawks with their P-47 Thunderbolts were as responsible as any other aircraft in winning the war. I highly recommend Hell Hawks! The further I got into the book the more spellbound I became. I had studied and read of the ground operations (which included the air to combat battle in the Falaise Gap) and knew the story of the B-17s and the B-24s, but was ignorant of the overall air to ground combat battle that took place across the European Theater.
Buy the book. Read it. You will love it and learn something along the way. I highly recommend the book. Thank you Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones for a needed work on a neglected subject.
Read by and Reviewed on May 4, 2010 by Jimmie A. Kepler