The Original Hell's Angels

303rd Bombardment Group
of World War II
By Valerie Smart
ISBN 0-7385-0910-8
128 pages, softbound

Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl

This smallish book came across my desk this month and upon opening it up I was drawn in by the incredible collection of photos covering the life of one B-17 of the 303rd BG.  Named "Hell's Angels", this B-17 took its crew on 48 missions over Europe and never once had a member of the crew wounded or killed.  For forty of those missions the plane never had to turn back for mechanical reasons and the plane was the first to complete 25 missions.  After its 48th mission the plane and its crew was assigned to return stateside and fly on a war bond tour of duty.  During this flight the plane was covered with names of people from across the country as well as in England.

The author Valerie Smart is the great-niece of Kasmer Wegrzyn who was a member of the ground crew of this famous aircraft.  She collected the stories of Kaz and tied them with his photos and the result is a tightly woven story in captions and pictures of the journey of Hell's Angels around the US as well as life in England.  The quality of the photos alone make this a worthwhile purchase for both the historian and the modeler alike, and the well-written text puts you in Molesworth in the early 1940s. 

If you're interested in the Second World War or B-17s in particular, you definitely will want to pick this title up.

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