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Aces & Wingmen II, Volume 2

Bill Hess
Edited by Tom Frisque
Published by Aviation Usk, 1999
ISBN 0-9623080-2-1
256 pages, over 100 color photos, 55 color profiles
Available from Aviation Usk, $49.95


All right, so it may have taken a bit longer to come from the printhouse than expected, but it's finally here. This book coupled with the first volume are by far the most comprehensive photo reference of the Eighth Air Force fighter aces during the Second World War. While the first volume was stunning, the second volume is simply brilliant. The book is broken down into groups, with short stories interspersed amongst the myriad of photos. While the book is really more of a photographic reference, these stories are themselves little gems, with some written by surviving veterans of the war. From Ralph Hofer of the Fourth Fighter Group to Robin Olds of the 479th Fighter Group, the stories tell of what it was like to fly and fight in the 8th Air Force.

But like I said, it's the photos that really make this book shine, and there are some really neat pictures in here. For instance, one interesting shot shows Lt. Hofer's P-51B, 42-106924, QP-L, before it got its Malcolm hood. "Salem Representative" is the artwork under the canopy, but what's even more interesting is his string of kill markings. In addition to the fifteen black crosses there is one black locomotive and two black sailing ships! Other interesting pictures include a victory lineup of the 78th Group's Mustangs. Nothing but P-51 after P-51, all with that characteristic black-and-white checkered nose. But the best part of the book has to be the color section. Sure, it's neat to see all of those interesting nose arts, but you really don't get the full impact until you see them in full color. And this book doesn't let you down, either. There's a series of color photos of "Pistol Packin' Mama", a P-47D-11-RE, HV-B(bar), 42-75508 of the 56th Fighter Group. In 1944, after the 56th adopted red cowlings, "Pistol Packin' Mama" also depicted the phrase "The Cotton Chopper" on both sides of the fuselage under the windscreen, as well as two kill markings. For those of you who like Luftwaffe stuff, there's a photo of a Heinkel He111 in US markings, too.

Looking at a neat picture is one thing, but when you read the captions you get a true feel of the amount of work that has been put into this volume. Each picture has been meticulously researched, with serial numbers, pilot's names, colors, fuselage codes, and anything else that might be relevant being listed. Multiply this by the over 1000 photos included in the book and you have an amazing reference title. If you want to build a model of an Eighth Air Force ace, all the information you could possibly want is in the captions.

As I flip through this book, I start to realize that this volume is more than just photos and stories. This book is history, captured on paper as never done before. The stories put me in the pilot's seat, while the photos add in the feelings of the crew chiefs and mechanics and the captions give me the details as if I was right next to the plane. All together these two volumes make an incredible testimony to the Eighth Air Force, and if you have any interest in the Second World War you should not hesitate to pick these two volumes up.

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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

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PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM

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