Through Blue Skies to Hell: America's "Bloody 100th" in the Air War over Germany

Overview

This book provides a comprehensive look at air war over Europe during the climactic year of World War II, combining firsthand experience with expert analysis. The centerpiece is a mission-by-mission diary of 1st Lieutenant Richard R. Ayesh, bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, who flew with the 100th Bombardment Group, 13th Combat Wing of the 8th Air Force—the legendary “Bloody 100th.” He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre and the Air Medal with Four Oak ...
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Overview

This book provides a comprehensive look at air war over Europe during the climactic year of World War II, combining firsthand experience with expert analysis. The centerpiece is a mission-by-mission diary of 1st Lieutenant Richard R. Ayesh, bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, who flew with the 100th Bombardment Group, 13th Combat Wing of the 8th Air Force—the legendary “Bloody 100th.” He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre and the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, amongst others.

This book follows Ayesh’s progress from his youth during the Great Depression in Wichita, Kansas, which was rapidly becoming the air capital of the nation, to his arrival in England as a Lieutenant in a bomber crew assigned to assault the Third Reich.

Once in Europe, the author provides a look at the principles of American daylight strategic bombing, while relaying the overall military situation on the ground and in the air just after D-Day. This work is uniquely self-contained and covers all aspects of Air War in a clear, concise, yet nontechnical manner. Topics include photo-reconnaissance, munitions and bomb types, aircraft characteristics, fighter and bomber tactics, bomber formations, strategic target selection, radars, countermeasures and counter-counter measures. The unaltered diary of Lt. Ayesh is presented mission-by-mission, punctuated by tragedy and heroism, with explanations and commentary of the significance of events and actions described en route. The result is one of the most frank and exciting works on the air war over Europe to date.

There is no varnishing of words in this book, instead, after Lt. Ayesh is followed on his perilous return home in U-boat infested waters, the book assesses the effectiveness of US strategy in ultimately paralyzing the Nazi war machine. Finally, the complex moral issues raised by area and city bombing are explored with 21st century implications.

EDWARD M. SION Ph.D. currently resides with his wife and two children in Radnor, PA

REVIEWS

... an exceptional work on the Allied bombing campaign during World War II. While drawing on his uncle’s diary for close-in combat experiences, he also provides a scientist’s eye for the true chokepoints of German industry, particularly its synthetic fuel industry. Full of facts, anecdotes and strategic perspective, while following the progress of America’s “Bloody 100th” Bomb Group, Sion has provided a fascinating look at the massive WWII air war--a unique campaign in modern history.”
Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History” and
“Refuge from the Reich: American Airmen and Switzerland During World War II”

...delivers a real punch... a fine, straight forward, informative look at the air war over Europe after June 6 1944, with a surprising amount of new perspective on the moral issues of area bombing with implications in the present century. A worthy book about yesterday for today and tomorrow."
Midwest Book Review, 06/2008

"very readable account…intertwines the deeply personal and day to day minutiae of life on a Mighty 8th bomber base with the pros and cons of daylight missions and US offensive strategy. A chilling read…"
Flypast, 08/2008

“…an interesting and challenging read and a valuable contribution to air war literature.”
Fighting High (UK), 07/2008

“…enables the reader…to understand how and why things were the way they were in the skies of Europe in the Second World war. Very readable, surprisingly revealing.”
Aviation News (UK), 09/2008

“…an educated critique of the US bomber offensive during the Second World War…. An interesting read well worth taking up…”
Scale Aircraft Modeler International, 09/2008

“The combination of personal memoirs dotted in between the facts about the 100th’s missions, plus the evident research skills of the author providing an intelligent analysis of a great many usual aspects of the events surrounding the 8th Air Force in Europe, creates a startling combination of the poignant and the historic.”
Military Modeling, 05/2009

“…an elaborate study….well worth adding to any collection.”
Military Model Craft International, 08/2009

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
...delivers a real punch... a fine, straight forward, informative look at the air war over Europe after June 6 1944, with a surprising amount of new perspective on the moral issues of area bombing with implications in the present century. A worthy book about yesterday for today and tomorrow.
Aviation News
,,,enables the reader better to understand how and why things were the way they were in the skies of Europe in the Second World War. Very readable, surprisingly revealing.
Flypast
very readable account . . . intertwines the deeply personal and day to day minutiae of life on a Mighty 8th bomber base with the pros and cons of daylight missions and US offensive strategy. A chilling read . . .
Fighting High (UK)
. . . an interesting and challenging read and a valuable contribution to air war literature.
Aviation News (UK)
...enables the reader...to understand how and why things were the way they were in the skies of Europe in the Second World war. Very readable, surprisingly revealing.
Scale Aircraft Modeler International
...an educated critique of the US bomber offensive during the Second World War.... An interesting read well worth taking up...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935149873
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/13/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,509,093
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Edward M. Sion, Ph.D., a native of Kansas, is currently Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University. He has held visiting positions at Arizona State, the University of Toulouse and the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute. A recipient of numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, he has authored or co-authored 185 peer-reviewed publications, primarily on the end stages of stellar evolution. He currently resides with his wife and two children in Radnor, PA.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Preface     xi
Growing Up in the Air Capital     1
The Making of an Airman     5
The Bombardier's Arsenal     13
Top Secret Bombsight     21
Bomber Formations & Fighter Tactics     27
Blind Bombing, Radars and Pff     37
Heading to Combat     49
Welcome to Thorpe Abbotts     53
Legend of the Bloody Hundredth     65
Situation Ground War, Post D-Day     69
Situation Air War, Fall 1944     79
The Nerve Center at High Wycombe     83
The Air War on Synthetic Oil     97
German Defenses Against Bombers     107
Eve of Combat     117
Mission by Mission (I)     123
London Encounters     143
Mission by Mission (II)     151
The Lucky Bastards Heading Home     175
The Impact of Strategic Bombing on Final Victory     179
20th Century Moral Issues and 21st Century Implications     187
Notes     195
Bibliography     205
Index     211

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