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Aircraft of the Aces 115
Aces of the 78th Fighter Group

By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Illustrations by Chris Davies

Osprey Publishing

 

S u m m a r y :

Catalogue Number, Description and ISBN:

Aircraft of the Aces 115
Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Illustrations by Chris Davies
Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-78096-715-8

Contents & Media:

Soft cover, 96 pages, English text; black-and-white and colour photographs; colour profiles.

Price:

£13.99 plus shipping available online from Osprey Publishing
and speciality book and hobby shops worldwide.

Review Type:

First Look

Advantages:

Significant amount of historical information; eadable text and high quality illustrations

Disadvantages:

 

Conclusion:

Highly recommended


Reviewed by Lynn Ritger


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FirstRead


 
The 78th Fighter Group was one of the three original fighter units providing escort for VIII Bomber Command in England from 1942 through 1945, but despite being continually engaged in the European air war from the very beginning of America’s involvement, the heroic exploits of the unit’s men have been rather overlooked in favor of other groups in the decades following the Second World War.  Tom Cleaver has done an excellent job of addressing this shortfall with his latest book, “Aces of the 78th Fighter Group”.  Opening the book with a detailed analysis of the 78th FG’s role in the first long-range escort mission over Germany on 30 July 1943, the author then describes the formation of the unit, it’s early trials with the P-38 with which it was originally equipped, and the unit’s dispatch to England along with their partner Lightning units, the 1st and 14th Fighter Groups.

 

 

Transition to the P-47 quickly followed, and the initial ambivalence and rapid appreciation of the pilots for the Thunderbolt’s capabilities is described as the tempo of operations increased to a fever pitch through 1943 and 1944.  Befitting the title, substantial attention is paid to the 51 aces of the Group through combat reports and personal stories- the author was fortunate to have the assistance of several former 78th FG pilots and the nephew of the highest-scoring ace of the 78th, Maj. Quince Brown, in the course of his research.  The aces only tell part of the story, though, and the affection felt by the men for their first commanding officer, Maj. Arman Peterson, is one common thread through the story of the Group.  His loss in July 1943 was keenly felt for the remainder of the war.

The book manages to pack a significant amount of historical detail into its 96 pages, with a tightly woven narrative that is simultaneously informative and easy to read.  The 30 profiles presented in landscape format by noted airbrush artist Chris Davey are very well done, and cover the unit’s operational P-47s and highly colorful P-51Ds, to which they transitioned in December 1944.  The narrative is broken into six chapters, as follows:

  • 30 July 1943

  • Beginnings

  • Against The Odds

  • The Battle Of Germany

  • Liberating Europe

  • The Coming Of The Mustang

There is one appendix which lists all 51 aces of the Group, and 73 black and white photos contributed by respected 8th AF researchers Peter Randall and Frank Olynyk, along with Robert F Dorr and John Dibbs. 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Overall this is a highly worthy effort on the part of Tom Cleaver, a book which is long overdue and will no doubt be an excellent addition to one’s library.

Highly Recommended.


Review Copyright 2013 by Lynn Ritger
This Page Created on 1 October, 2013
Last updated 1 October, 2013

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