Ironclaw: A Navy Carrier Pilot's Gulf War Experience

Overview

Just ten days out of land-based training and on the eve of the Persian Gulf War, Lieutenant Junior Grade Sherman Baldwin was assigned to Air Wing Five's EA-6B Prowler squadron - call sign Ironclaw - aboard the U.S.S. Midway. Flying the Prowler attack aircraft, Baldwin, his crew of three flight officers, and the rest of their squadron were responsible for identifying, jamming, and destroying enemy radar. Ironclaw is one of the most compelling accounts yet of life on a carrier at war. For the readers of Flight of ...
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Overview

Just ten days out of land-based training and on the eve of the Persian Gulf War, Lieutenant Junior Grade Sherman Baldwin was assigned to Air Wing Five's EA-6B Prowler squadron - call sign Ironclaw - aboard the U.S.S. Midway. Flying the Prowler attack aircraft, Baldwin, his crew of three flight officers, and the rest of their squadron were responsible for identifying, jamming, and destroying enemy radar. Ironclaw is one of the most compelling accounts yet of life on a carrier at war. For the readers of Flight of the Intruder and Yeager, Baldwin brilliantly captures the excitement and risk faced by naval aviators. He takes the reader from belowdecks in the mission-planning room, where the day's combat assignment is handed out, to the deck of the Midway, where jets are catapulted over the Persian Gulf, and into the cockpit - offering an unprecedented look at what it feels like to control one of the world's most sophisticated - and powerful - military machines.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Baldwin was fresh out of pilot training as a lieutenant j.g. when, on Dec. 10, 1990, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Midway in the Persian Gulf. A skilled aviator, the young "nugget"a pilot on his first sea cruisenevertheless had much to learn before becoming proficient at carrier operations. The process would be short and intense: Operation Desert Shield had begun months earlier, and Baldwin, along with his shipmates, knew that the U.S. could go to war against Iraq at any time. When Operation Desert Storm was launched in January 1991, Baldwin found himself in the thick of the action. By then, he had logged numerous hours on carrier launches, aerial refueling and landings performed at night on the pitching deck of "the smallest carrier in the fleet." As related here, these tasks are as terrifying as the later wartime missions. Baldwin's account of his attempt to hook up to a refueling tanker in the dark, while running out of gas and hampered by nervous jitters, is among the most vivid in aviation literature. His running tale of his long-distance courtship of his wife is less engaging, but it doesn't hamper the appeal of this gritty and visceral memoir. (Sept.)
Library Journal
"The lowest jet in the stack was a F/A18 Hornet at 6000 feet. At 2152 I heard, `Drago 307, commencing, altimeter 30.10.' The Prowler's holding speed was 250 knots." Nearly 300 pages of such technical jargon comprise this work by Baldwin, a navy fighter pilot who came to the Gulf War within a few weeks of graduation from flight school. He describes his career from basic training to advanced pilot school, the courtship of his fiance, and his arrival on the aircraft carrier Midway. One is impressed by the tremendous amount of training, stamina, and skill needed to become a modern combat pilot. Unfortunately, Baldwin is not as skillful a writer, and his text soon becomes very tiring. Only for the most dedicated aviation technical buffs.Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid memoir of the 1991 Gulf War, of an air attack squadron called Ironclaw, and of the high-pressure life aboard the US carrier Midway.

From the start, the reader is in the cockpit with Lieutenant Junior Grade Baldwin (who is currently pursuing an MBA at Harvard) and a three-man crew as, on the eve of war, his Prowler rolls off the flight deck toward the carrier catapults to be thrust from zero to 150 miles per hour in two seconds. One's body, Baldwin notes, never quite adapts to the severe strain of accelerating so fast. His first flight from the carrier is a training mission; he and his crew are supposed to seek out, jam, and destroy enemy radar used as a guide for SAM anti- aircraft missiles. When war comes, it will be a crucial task. Baldwin, qualified as a combat pilot after two and a half years of the toughest flight training, found himself looked down upon as a mere recruit in the fleet, where his every move was closely monitored by highly critical, seasoned officers. In this almost daily high-risk operation, where every man's life often depended on others, one mistake or a missed maintenance inspection could mean instant death to a flight crew. Landing-deck crews are pushed to the limit to avoid life-threatening fires and accidents in a swiftly moving, crowded area. Baldwin depicts the great spirit and close support of officers and enlisted men trying to achieve perfection in some tension-filled combat situations with a little-known enemy. Most missions were successful; not a single life or plane was lost.

A fine, Tom Clancystyle account of shipmates under stress and who deserve the traditional Navy phrase, "Well done."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688143039
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.47 (h) x 1.07 (d)

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