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Pacific Air: How Fearless Flyboys, Peerless Aircraft, and Fast Flattops Conquered the Skies in the War with Japan

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Overview

Pacific Air tells the exhilarating, inspiring story of a generation of young naval aviators who, despite initial disastrous defeats, would ultimately vanquish a superior Japanese air force and fleet in the Pacific. From the dual perspectives of dauntless young combat pilots and the inventive aeronautical engineers who perfected their aircraft, Pacific Air brings an important yet underappreciated chapter of World War II vividly to life.

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Pacific Air: How Fearless Flyboys, Peerless Aircraft, and Fast Flattops Conquered the Skies in the War with Japan

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Overview

Pacific Air tells the exhilarating, inspiring story of a generation of young naval aviators who, despite initial disastrous defeats, would ultimately vanquish a superior Japanese air force and fleet in the Pacific. From the dual perspectives of dauntless young combat pilots and the inventive aeronautical engineers who perfected their aircraft, Pacific Air brings an important yet underappreciated chapter of World War II vividly to life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews, 5/1/11
“As a former naval officer who served during Vietnam, Sears brings an insider's knowledge of combat to this comprehensive history of the air war in the Pacific during World War II…A lively depiction of America's development of superior air power.”

Booklist, June 2011
“[An] excellent volume on the navy’s air war in the Pacific during WWII…The author has almost certainly created the best one-volume study of the subject; libraries, take note.”
 
RoanokeTimes, 5/29/11
“Sears illustrates the brilliant designs and incredible productiveness of the airplane builders and the heroic fortitude of U.S. sailors and airmen, whose gallantry helped lift the nation from the blood and smoke of Pearl Harbor to triumph in Tokyo Bay.”
 
Tucson Citizen, 5/26/11
“[A] wonderfully executed new book…Combining gripping personal stories with detailed military history, this page-turning book tells reveals sobering details of how a group of superbly trained Navy and Marine pilots…destroyed more than 5,000 Japanese aircraft.”
 
Bookviews, June 2011 “Provides a panorama of the battle against Japan…Anyone who loves military history will thoroughly enjoy the stories of the many young men who helped write it against daunting odds.”

InfoDad.com, 6/9/11
“A well-researched, well-written work…The different engineering of such planes as the TBF Avenger, F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat is well explained and will surely be of interest to the subset of readers fascinated by aeronautical design and how it affects combat success.”

Corduroy Books blog, 6/13/11
“Compulsively readable.”
 
Relaxed Fit E-Zine, 6/6/11
“A nuts-and-bolts, briefing room viewpoint…An accurate, detailed narrative, covering the War in the Pacific at squadron level…Worth reading.”
 
WWII History, September 2011
“An excellent book…Sears’s account is a tribute to the men who pioneered the aerial tactics that enabled the Navy and Marine aviators to beat the Japanese at their own game—and achieve victory.”
 
Veterans Reporter, June 2011
“The stories in this book should be taught in every American history class, and in every military basic training course.”
 
Reference and Research Book News, August 2011
“[An] engaging historical narrative of air efforts against the Japanese.”
 
Book Bargains and Previews
“If you are a WWII history buff, you will want to get a copy of this book.  It is a well-written history of brave pilots, smart tactics, and timely engineering ll in a very readable format.”
 

Naval History, October 2011
“A most useful, readable, and far-reaching account…Sears brings a vitality and dedication to fully understanding the events about which he writes…Sears has covered a huge amount of useful and interesting information in a concise and extremely readable narrative.”
 

Collected Miscellany, 9/19/11
“Popular history at its best.  Sears does an excellent job of writing about the American effort to defeat Japan during World War II in an easy-to-read format…Very entertaining.”
 
MichiganWar Studies Review
“Sears writes in an engaging and fluent manner, deftly selecting the telling fact or compelling incident to bring his subject to life…Will entertain military buffs interested in rousing tales of fighter pilots ‘yankin' and bankin'’ in aerial combat.”
 
Curled Up with a Good Book, 12/23/11
“A great read...Bring[s] the war to life…A great look at the Pacific War from the air, capturing all the cockiness, drama, and heartbreak as friends are lost, some never to be seen again. Anybody with an interest in World War II will find this a valuable addition to their collection.”
 
Military Review, February 2012
“A compelling, readable account of aerial combat.”

War, Literature and the Arts
“The book reads like a movie script: fast-paced, interlaced story-lines, weaving an array of historical personages into a vivid tapestry. Mr. Sears writes well and the book is difficult to put down…Sears’ history is composed of people, and the people he chooses to write about do great things. Nothing could be better.”

Naval Institute Proceedings’ “Notable Naval Books of 2011,” May 2012
“Taking the unusual tack of including the aeronautical engineers who designed the naval aircraft that fought and won the Pacific war along with those who flew them, David Sears has told an important and often overlooked story of how the Americans won this sweeping conflict…A readable, convincing account…Sears’ skills as a researcher and writer and grasp of his subject gained from his own experience as a former naval officer always lend authenticity and credibility to his work. This latest book is no exception.”

Politics and Patriotism, 5/16/12
“The author employs a carefully selected batch of well known sources to present the reader with a blend that showcase the tools, tactics, and technicians that propelled aviators on both sides of that war to victory or death…Should give the 21st Century reader a sense of what it might’ve been like to live through the events.”

Kirkus Reviews

As a former naval officer who served during Vietnam, Sears (Such Men As These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skies Over Korea, 2010, etc.) brings an insider's knowledge of combat to this comprehensive history of the air war in the Pacific during World War II.

The author begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, so unexpected that tragically the only group of American fighters to take to the air was shot down by friendly fire. Sears juxtaposes that chaotic scene with festivities at a new Grumman Aircraft Engineering facility scheduled to open the next day. America had begun to prepare for war with an impressive buildup during the previous year. By the end of the war, Grumman had put about 30,000 planes in the air, including 12,000 advanced F6F Hellcats, which gave U.S. forces a significant advantage in the Pacific—even though at the start of the war, the Japanese Zero was a faster fighter plane with a better climb rate and turning radius. Sears also tells the less well-known, fascinating story of the fearless test pilots who risked their lives. They were employed by Grumman beginning in the 1930s—before the 1941 boom—in the aircraft industry, and many were killed testing the capabilities of dive bombers as well as the new generation of fighter planes. The author shows how American fighter pilots compensated for the early superiority of the Zero by developing new tactical formations that allowed them to outfly the enemy, and he goes behind the scenes to describe the high morale of American airmen.

A lively depiction of America's development of superior air power.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306820786
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 1,355,338
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

A former US Navy officer and a Vietnam War veteran, David Sears is the author of four previous books, including Such Men as These. He lives in New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 State of War

1 The Embattled Farmers 3

2 My God! What's Happened? 12

Part 2 Hard Pressed

3 Prototypes 23

4 Terminal Velocity 37

5 Samurai 51

6 Low Blower 66

Part 3 A Precarious Honor

7 Sans Celebration 85

8 Jimmie and Butch 94

9 There Is Only One Mistake 110

10 Scratch Two Flattops 122

11 A Bag of Gold through a Lonely Forest 138

12 Return Buster 159

Part 4 Blue Skies, Green Hell

13 Get Down to Work 183

14 It Isn't Good 201

15 These Have Got Us 218

16 Attack! Repeat, Attack! 233

Part 5 The Hop Supreme

17 You Look Good Out There, Honey 253

18 Butch May be Down 273

19 They Will be Knocked Down 292

20 Missions Beyond Darkness 314

Notes 340

Glossary 350

Appendix: U.S. Navy Pilots and Crews 352

Bibliography 357

Acknowledgments 360

Index 361

Illustrations follow 180

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2014

    Aside from my thanks for the author's service as a Navy Officer

    Aside from my thanks for the author's service as a Navy Officer offered to him as a fellow Navy veteran, Mr. Sears barely, and just barely, wrote his way through the Pacific Carrier exchanges, some pilot backgrounds, some military politics, and Grumman history in this woeful offering. His writing plods along horribly and flips incessantly between topics, often without any cohesive bond between thoughts.
    Quite shameful that any editor let this thin anecdotal presentation go to print. As an example, seemingly starved for something to expand upon, Mr. Sears DESCRIBES an included photograph of an early test pilot bringing his son to a testing event and pointing to the camera, cigarette in hand. Germane might be the thought one should suggest for perhaps more than half of the pages within, although 'Pacific Air' would be very thin if that standard was truly applied.
    The naval engagements described are with very little context and never well set to understandable placements or references. As others have mentioned, there are little if any overall collective points that gather the information into understandable battle fronts or strike and counter-strike exchanges. No collective grouping of thoughts defining The battle of the Coral Sea for example, only back and forth US and Japanese pilot and squadron exchanges and Admiral and high political back and forth thrown together loosely. Same with Midway, Wake, and Leyte Gulf. I did read the whole book, painful as it was, and did come away with some read on the Grumman developments and Admiral politics that I hadn't come across yet, but that's hardly worth suffering through the rest. If the focus is arguably about the men involved and their exploits, not the bigger picture, it still fails miserably in that presentation. Again, shame on your editor and more on De Capo Press for this release.

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    Posted June 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

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