Flying the Hump: Memories of an Air War

Overview

Noted historian Theodore White called it "the most dangerous, terrifying, barbarous aerial transport run in the world . . . the skyway to Hell." This is the story of the air war over the Himalaya Mountains, in World War II, when Japan and China were locked in a death struggle. China was completely cut off from the world, and the transport planes of the Allies flew day and night missions for three and one half years over the Himalayas to keep China supplied with the needs of war. This was called the Hump. Gen. ...

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Overview

Noted historian Theodore White called it "the most dangerous, terrifying, barbarous aerial transport run in the world . . . the skyway to Hell." This is the story of the air war over the Himalaya Mountains, in World War II, when Japan and China were locked in a death struggle. China was completely cut off from the world, and the transport planes of the Allies flew day and night missions for three and one half years over the Himalayas to keep China supplied with the needs of war. This was called the Hump. Gen. Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers crossed the Hump to outgun the Japanese Zeros in some of the most spectacular air battles of World War II. More than one thousand airmen and six hundred transport planes were lost, flying air routes that were so dangerous they were called the "aluminum trail." The B-29 Superfortress flew four-day missions across the Hump to bomb the Japanese mainland. The Hump was the epic of World War II in the air. This is a scholarly and historically accurate description of the development of air power in China, explaining the need for the Himalayan airlift and recording the important dates and events of the war over the Hump against Japan. Otha C. Spencer was a Hump pilot and recounts his own experiences and those of the men who flew the planes through the world's worst weather over the world's highest mountains. Dozens of photographs, most taken by Hump airmen, show the glory and tragedy of this great air war. This book will be an important addition to the libraries of the general reader as well as the military historian.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When the occupying Japanese cut off China from outside contact during WW II, the Americans quickly established ``the Hump,'' an airlift of troops and supplies over the Himalayas designed to keep Chiang Kai-shek's army in the fight. Spencer, journalism professor emeritus at East Texas State University, who flew the Hump, reveals that enemy aircraft destroyed fewer planes than did such natural hazards as storms and violent winds. He chronicles the successful efforts of Air Force General William H. Tunner to reduce losses by standardizing maintenance inspections and imposing strict regulations about the use of oxygen masks. (Oxygen deprivation was the ``silent killer'' of many pilots, who considered it a sign of weakness to wear masks below a certain altitude.) Spencer's comprehensive history, a terrific collection of flying stories, profiles pilots, navigators, maintenance men and weather forecasters against the background of Allied strategy in the China-Burma-India theater. ( Sept. )
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Otha C. Spencer was a U.S. Air Force pilot from 1941 to 1946; he was an instructor in B-25s, a hurricane reconnaissance pilot, and a Hump pilot in the China-Burma-India Theater in 1945. He is professor emeritus of journalism at East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas. He has written eight books and over one hundred illustrated articles for national magazines, and he continues free-lance writing, book editing and design, and commercial photography.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Preface
Acknowledgments
Prologue 3
1 China's Struggle for Air Power - 1931-42 11
2 The Hump Begins - 1942 33
3 The Hump Matures - January-July 1943 58
4 Working Out the Problems - July-December 1943 77
5 A New Challenge to the Hump - 1944 100
6 Wingate to Tunner - 1944 128
7 Victory over Japan - 1945 153
Notes 182
Bibliography 199
Index 208
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Flying the Hump is a solid work

    Author covers much more than just Cargo Ops over the Hump. Does a great job explaining CBI wartime conditions and influences - very broad and encompassing references to US/China military commanders and politics. Frequently brings the reader back into the cockpit for the real flying stories. Many lessons learned during the Hump and CBI theatre that are being re-learned the hard way today in the world and in aviation. Good book for young aviators that just have a cockpit full of glass and every convenience at their fingertips. Planes change but the weather doesn't. This book is a reminder that Mother Nature nearly always wins - if she wants to.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    Flying The Hump

    Interesting reading. If you like WWII stories and want to know more about the war that took place in parts of China with the Japanese, this gives good back ground. I was interested because my father was stationed in India with the Army Air Corp and he didn't like talking about his tour there.
    Gives good incite for what the pilots who flew the "Hump" went through.

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