Best B-17 Personal Accounts

Discussion in 'Books and Films' started by fixel101, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. fixel101

    fixel101 Guest

    I've posted my thoughts related to a few of my most memorable aerial combat books, which was, needless to say, a difficult decision and probably hasty. Over the past few days, I've revisited many of the books I've read and have concluded that there are many gems which stand out for a variety of reasons. They fall into a few general areas of activity: bomber, fighter - axis and allied (both U.S. and Commonweatlh). As I am a big fan of the B-17 aircrew and their exploits, I'll start there and convey what I believe are excellent reads (this is only a partial, subjective list, based on my memory, so I hope I have the titles correct):

    "Those Who Fall" by Muirhead
    "Cold Blue Sky" by Novey
    "Return From Berlin" by Grilley
    "A Wing and a Prayer" by Crosby
    "A Real Good War" by Halpert
    "The Wrong Stuff" by Smith
    "Countdown" by Koger
    "Air Combat with the Mighty Eighth" by Cramer
    "A Mighty Fortress" by Alling

    Glaringly absent is "Serenade to the Big Bird" which I never purchased, but which gets outstanding reviews.

    What are posters' thoughts? It would be useful to put a longer listing together for future reference (i.e., additions to the ole library!), maybe even explore other specific categories. I'm very interested in Bomber Command.....

  2. Gage

    Gage New Member

    I've got Martin Middlebrook's 'The Schweinfurt - Regensberg Mission' to read and I'll probably read it next. Eventhough it's not a personal account.

    I love books on the B-17 in the ETO.

    I read 'Combat Crew by John Comer' a few years ago and I remember it was very well written.
  3. fixel101

    fixel101 Guest

    Gage, yes, Comer's book is quite good from what I have heard and it's another I need to add to the library. I'm discovering quite a few holes! There is the recent tome, "Last of the B-17 Drivers," which also looks good.

    I am looking over at some shelves as I write and I see the books "Innocent at Polebrook" and "Fletcher's Gang," both of which I read years back, although I can't quite remember their stories with clarity. I also see Bendiner's "Fall of the Fortresses" which was quite good and a most popular book.

    Over the holidays, I read two diary-styled books, one of which I can remember in detail with respect to title and author: it was Edwyn Warfle's "One Lucky Bastard" about the 447th based at Rattlesden airbase. Quite a good read - Mr. Warfle led a highly interesting and admirable career both during and after WWII.

    As for Middlebrook's book on the first Regensberg/Schweinfurt mission, it's up to his usual high standards. I have an autographed copy. I have read all of his work and in toto it's simply outstanding - "The Nuremberg Raid" and "First Day of the Somme" are two of my cherished books.

  4. Gage

    Gage New Member

    He is excellent. 'The Battle of Hamburg' really opened my eyes when I first read it. Envious you have a signed copy.
    By the look of it I have a massive caven to fill of missing books!
  5. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Don't we all, Gage!

    Fix, of the books you list I only own Halpert's A Real Good War but have not read it. I also have Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer by Brian O'Neill but I think that is more a collection of aircrew memories. Having said that, I think it might follow one crew.

    While I own a couple of Squadron Signal B-17 books and despite the aircraft and her crews being one of my first areas of interest (lived in Salt Lake City at the time and regularly went to Hill AFB Museum to check out Short Bier), I don't have a lot of books on her. The only others that spring to mind are Scott Thompson's The Final Cut - a look at B-17s in civilian use after the war - and Cliff Bishop's excellent Fortresses of the Big Triangle First.
  6. fixel101

    fixel101 Guest

    AA: Take a read of Halpert's book. There is a character in there called the Hangman, if my cortex is functioning, and he's a gem. It's a good, entertaining read.

    To all, forgot Jack Myer's "Shot at and Missed." Outstanding book on the 15th AF. I started it over the holiday, somewhat halfheartedly, and couldn't put it down. It got a bit wet in the shower and now has some gravy stains!

    I also have many composite books as I call 'em (devoted to many different subjects), with each chapter dedicated to an individual and the crewman's concomitant story. I must admit that they don't seem to capture my interest as those focused on a single subject, but that's just me.

    So, Andy, get reading! Cheerio, M
  7. Gage

    Gage New Member

    Also read 'Tales to Noses over Berlin' by Ray Bowden, which is very good. But that is general 8th AF missions.
  8. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    LOL. Oh but I am but the dent I'm making in the pile is getting progressivley smaller as the pile gets bigger!
  9. Gage

    Gage New Member

    Has anybody got any books which features combat with 262s in, please?
    Many Ts.
  10. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    I think I've got an account of Urban L Drew's encounter but he was in a Mustang at a time and I imagine you're after bomber interceptions, Gage?
  11. fixel101

    fixel101 Guest

    Gage, many of the books I've highlighted do mention sighting jets later in the war. I have a book by a heavy gunner which states something about 'scratching' an Me-163, but can't recall the title, and even where it is in my shelves (it's a little paperback)! Specific books about bomber-262 encounters which come to mind are those which feature B-26's, such as "Battle over Bavaria" and "Blue Battlefields." Boiten and Bowmans' "Battles with the Luftwaffe" has some accounts. I have a quick story.............

    Walter Schuck, Luftwaffe ace with 206 credited kills, shot down five B-17's with cannon fire in April of 1945 (was it the 10th, can't remember!). The observer of the final shootdown was a leutenant with the 20th Fighter Group, name of Joe Peterburs (flying a P51D, "Josephine"). Joe put his Mustang into a power dive and observed hits on the ME-262, which ducked into a cloud. Joe then hit the deck and was shot down over an airfield, the name of which I forget, only to become a POW; his aircraft augured in and buried itself via the impact. Joe's claim for that day was a damaged jet. Nearly the end of the story. Anyway, about 60 years later, an air history buff does a bit of research: the only ME-262 shot down on that day was the famous Walter Schuck - correlation to Joe's report showed that Joe got hits on a German pilot right after his final and fifth kill of a B-17, the successful pilot of the 262 responsible for all of the destroyed bombers on that day. Thus, it was one and the same Walter Schuck. Joe never knew he 'got' him and forgot all about it and the war.

    Walter and Joe were brought together a few years back, and have become great friends following notification by the above historian (I believe there is a Taylor print that depicts the intersection over Germany on that day). In any event, I hosted them for a seminar which they presented two years ago. Both of these fellows are outstanding gentlemen and interesting speakers (Walter's English needs polish, but he gets by quite well). One day, in the mail, I got a package within which I found an engine valve from none other than "Josephine" which was dug up by an aviation archeology team. A strange and beautiful world in which we live. The pilots have appeared on the several history shows in recent years, as well. Finally, Walter's book is due out in April or so - I can't wait to give it a read. Thanks to Horst Kube for his support of Walter's visit and for preserving history.

    Cheers, Fixel
  12. Gage

    Gage New Member

    Thanks Andy. Can you put down here or is it too long?

    What a great story, Fixel.
    German Jets Versus the US Army Air Force: William N. Hess: Books

    I found this and might have to get a copy.

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