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Runyan99

WW2 Pilot Memoirs

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Two I have read recently that are fair to good are:

I Flew for the Fuhrer by Heinz Knocke

Ace of the Eighth by Bud Fortier

Looking for more recommendations. Post your favorite here.

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'The Big Show' by Pierre Clostermann has got to be the daddy of them all.'The Lonely Warrior' by Jean Offenberg is quite good too and if you like bombers then the classic has to be 'Enemy Coast Ahead' by Guy Gibson.

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Wing Leader by Johnny Johnson is a classic and a great read. I've read it three times now just for the pleasure of it.

The First and the Last by Adolf Galland gives the other side and is interesting.

There are many others, most of which have emerged in the last 30 years.

Michael

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Saburo Sakai's "Zero Pilot" was very interesting.

I take it this was not the version that Martin Caiden had his hands all over? That version, that usually carries the title Samurai! and is not preferred.

Michael

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The old standbys are God is my Copilot(it has a sequel), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, and Baa Baa Black Sheep. "Thirty Seconds" was alright, the other two didn't do much for me. My actual recommendations are Joe Foss: Flying Marine, and though they aren't pilot memoirs A Wing and a Prayer and Fall of the Fortresses are memoirs of European bomber crewmen: navigators in both cases. Gabreski wrote a memoir, though I haven't read it. Ethell & Sand compiled Fighters of WWII and Bombers of WWII, which are collections of short anecdotes told by fighter and bomber (as well as photo recon) pilots from their training stages all the way up through action in the ATO, MTO, and the ETO until the end of the war. "Fighters" includes an analysis of the P-38, P-47, and P-51 by Gabreski and he states his views on their respective strengths and weaknesses.

If you are looking for books about air warfare and not just memoirs, I would recommend JG 26, The Battle of the Airfields, and Fighter Boys, as well as The Black Sheep, for a more objective look at VMF 214. A Question of Honor has a few chapters of bang-up stuff about the Polish Air Force in Poland, France, and Britain, but then it seriously loses its focus, so look for it in the library, as it's not worth the price. Ernie Pyle's Brave Men has a chapter about a dive-bomber squadron in Italy, and Listen to the Voices from the Sea has some letters and diary entries from kamikaze pilots.

I know I've read some other books, including memoirs, from the ETO, including a good one from the 9th AF, as well as one from a carrier pilot. I'll mull it over and see what I come up with.

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Wings On My Sleeve

Capt. Eric 'Winkle' Brown

Apparently he flew 500 different aircraft!

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't I give it six stars...?, 2 Oct 2006

By Andrew Tyacke "Andy Tyacke" (Bockhorst, Germany) - See all my reviews

(REAL NAME)

No test pilot in history has flown so many types of aircraft as Commander Brown and certainly no other test pilot writes as clearly and interestingly as he does. "Wings on my Sleeve" was first published in 1961 in a much shorter form. In this new edition he answers so many questions that come to mind when reading his other books - notably "Wings of the Navy" and "Wings of the Luftwaffe" - and sets these books into a much wider context of his amazing life

This is the story of his life from his first flight, with the legendary German WW1 ace and later stunt pilot and finally Director of Air Armaments in Goering's Luftwaffe, Ernst Udet, through his experiences in Nazi Germany and his encounter with the SS when they came to tell him that the two counties were at war and on through a life that included convoy escort duties and hair-raising encounters with FW Kuriers before his outstanding deck landing skills led to his being appointed to RAE Farnborough.

He then chronicles the hectic life of a war time test pilot as he flew practically every type of British and US military aircraft and evaluated captured enemy machines to develop combat tactics.

Because of his fluent German, the last days of the war found him despatched to Germany to assemble and test German aircraft. Here he accepted the surrender of a major Luftwaffe base when he landed in the mistaken assumption that it had already been captured by the allies. During this time he met and talked to Goering and Hanna Reitsch as well as every major German aircraft figure of the era.

Post war the pace did not diminish: taking delivery of the first US helicopter to be allocated to the UK, he asked about training to fly it and was handed a thick book with the words, "Here's your instructor!" High speed flights investigating the approach to Mach One were interspersed with development on the Avro Tudor and Bristol Brabazon as well as a huge range of varyingly successful (and otherwise) experimental and new military and civil aircraft.

Commander Brown's close involvement in the development of so many British and US aircraft, allied with his own evaluative and literary skills make this a book to be cherished and re-read time and again: in fact, just like his previous books!

My only complaint is that, like all good things, it leaves one wanting more of the same.

PS: Commander Brown has written far too few books! One I would love for him to write would be "Wings of the Post War Navy". Any chance, please?

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Wings On My Sleeve

Capt. Eric 'Winkle' Brown

Apparently he flew 500 different aircraft!

I have Wings of the Luftwaffe, and it is an excellent technical-type reference. If you wanted to know where the flux capacitor bypass distribution trunk indicator light in the cockpit of a Dornier Do 217 is, it's numbered in a cross-sectional view on some page of this book.

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I take it this was not the version that Martin Caiden had his hands all over? That version, that usually carries the title Samurai! and is not preferred.

Michael

I don't believe so Michael - I read it in paperback when I was in my teens and doubt it was Caidin's, though I've seen the latter "Samurai" work around more recently. It was an interesting read and not a lightweight like much of Caidin's work.

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I've looked into this out of curiosity and the only Ballantyne paper edition of a Sakai book was the 1957 copy of Samurai, so that must have been the one I recall reading after all these years.

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I have Wings of the Luftwaffe, and it is an excellent technical-type reference. If you wanted to know where the flux capacitor bypass distribution trunk indicator light in the cockpit of a Dornier Do 217 is, it's numbered in a cross-sectional view on some page of this book.

It's a wonder they didn't win the war...

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Peter Stahl 'The diving eagle: A Ju88 pilot's diary' (William Kimber 1984 ISBN 0-7183-0509-4).

I got the German version of it and it's a fantastic read. Very interesting view from the German cockpit - and then out of a bomber on top of it!

*****

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