Officers in Flight Suits: The Story of American Air Force Fighter Pilots in the Korean War

Overview

The United States Air Force fought as a truly independent service for the first time during the Korean War. Ruling the skies in many celebrated aerial battles, even against the advanced Soviet MiG-15, American fighter pilots reigned supreme. Yet they also destroyed virtually every major town and city in North Korea, demolished its entire crop irrigation system and killed close to one million civilians.

The self-confidence and willingness to take risks which defined the lives of ...

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Overview

The United States Air Force fought as a truly independent service for the first time during the Korean War. Ruling the skies in many celebrated aerial battles, even against the advanced Soviet MiG-15, American fighter pilots reigned supreme. Yet they also destroyed virtually every major town and city in North Korea, demolished its entire crop irrigation system and killed close to one million civilians.

The self-confidence and willingness to take risks which defined the lives of these men became a trademark of the fighter pilot culture, what author John Darrell Sherwood here refers to as the flight suit attitude. In Officers in Flight Suits, John Darrell Sherwood takes a closer look at the flight suit officer's life by drawing on memoirs, diaries, letters, novels, unit records, and personal papers as well as interviews with over fifty veterans who served in the Air Force in Korea. Tracing their lives from their training to the flight suit culture they developed, the author demonstrates how their unique lifestyle affected their performance in battle and their attitudes toward others, particularly women, in their off-duty activities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Sherwood thoroughly documents the superb performance of air force fighter pilots during the Korean War. They met the best pilots China and the Soviet Union had to offer—and won. In doing so, the author has competently mined the extensive documentary resources of the Air Force History and Museums Program and made constructive use of memoirs and interviews."

-Journal of American History,

"Sherwood paints a vivid and realistic portrait of the culture of Korean War pilots, examining the motivations, their methods, and the effect that being a fighter pilot had on their personal lives."

-Air Force,

"An extraordinary synthesis of social and military history which throws new light on the story of the air combat in Korea."

-Ronald H. Spector,author of After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam

"Sherwood provides a definitve account of Air Force pilots, their training, operations and battles, in the Korean War."

-Virginia Pilot,

History Journal of American
Sherwood thoroughly documents the superb performance of air force fighter pilots duringthe Korean War. They met the best pilots China and the Soviet Union had to offer-and won. In doing so, the author has competently mined the extensive documentary resources of the Air Force History and Museums Program and made constructive use of memoirs and interviews.
Journal of American History
Sherwood thoroughly documents the superb performance of air force fighter pilots during the Korean War. They met the best pilots China and the Soviet Union had to offer-and won. In doing so, the author has competently mined the extensive documentary resources of the Air Force History and Museums Program and made constructive use of memoirs and interviews.
Air Force
Sherwood paints a vivid and realistic portrait of the culture of Korean War pilots, examining the motivations, their methods, and the effect that being a fighter pilot had on their personal lives.
Virginia Pilot
Sherwood provides a definitve account of Air Force pilots, their training, operations and battles, in the Korean War.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814781104
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John Darrell Sherwood is an official historian with the U.S. Naval Historical Center. He is the author of Officers in Flight Suits: The Story of American Air Force Fighter Pilots in Korea and Afterburner: Naval Aviators and the Vietnam War, both published by NYU Press. He is also the author of Fast Movers: Aviators and the Vietnam War Experience.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2000

    A GREAT BOOK

    Many authors, such as Robert Futrell and Larry Davis, have written very thorough histories of the air war in Korea, giving dates, missions flown, technical data, etc., but this is the first book on social and cultural histories of that subject. Unlike World War II, the exploits of fighter pilots in Korea overshadowed the bombing campaigns. This book is an extensive examination of the 'flight suit attitude,' a combination of cockiness and pride that has always characterized fighter pilots. 'Officers in Flight Suits' details these pilot`s social backgrounds, aviation training, combat effectiveness, and off-duty activities, focusing on eleven living participants (such as Robinson Risner) after Sherwood interviewed approximately fifty flight suit officers. The air war in Korea is best remembered for its legendary air battles between the American F-86 Sabre and the Russian built MiG-15, which Sherwood emphasizes, but he also devotes many pages to the fighter-bomber pilots involved in air interdiction in Korea. I have visited by phone with Mr. Sherwood several times and found him exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful with my hobby of giving programs to clubs and schools on the air war over Korea. This is a great book! If you have any interest in the Korea War and haven`t read this book, buy it now!

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