The American 345th Bomb Groupthe Air Apacheswas legendary in the war against Japan. The first fully trained and fully equipped group sent to the South Pacific, the 345th racked up a devastating score against the enemy. Armed to the teeth with machine guns and fragmentation bombs, and flying their B-25s at impossibly low altitudesoften below fifty feetthe pilots and air crews strafed and bombed enemy installations and shipping with a fury that helped cripple Japan. One of the sharpest tools in the U.S. arsenal, the 345th performed essential missions during Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippines, earning an impressive four Distinguished Unit Citations.
This was punishingly dangerous work, and the 345th lost 177 aircraft and 712 menyoung men doing their duty in the spirit of the Greatest Generation. Neither was this the more gentlemanly war of Europe, with its more temperate climate, resistance networks aiding downed crews, and POW camps. Airmen shot down in the Pacific theater faced drowning in the ocean, disappearing in the jungle, or torturing and beheading by the Japanese in a war of no quarter expected, no quarter given.
A compelling follow-up to Stout’s Hell’s Angels, Air Apaches reconstructs the missions of the 345th Bomb Group in striking detail, with laser focus on the men who manned the cockpits, navigated the B-25s, dropped the bombs, serviced the planes, and helped win the war. To tell this remarkable story, Stout worked closely with the group’s surviving veterans and dug deep into firsthand accounts. The result is a compelling narrative of men at war that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
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About the Author
Jay A. Stout is a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot with more than 4,500 flight hours and 37 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. He has appeared as an aviation and military expert on various TV and radio news programs, including Fox News and NPR. He is the author, among other books, of Hell’s Angels: The True Story of the 303rd Bomb Group in World War II, Fighter Group: The 352nd “Blue-Nosed Bastards” in World War II, and The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The U.S. Army Air Forces against Germany in World War II. He lives in San Diego, California.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 "It Couldn't Be Much Worse" 1
Chapter 2 "That Made Him Very Happy" 26
Chapter 3 "The Enemy Was Taken Completely By Surprise" 45
Chapter 4 "The Squadron Was Attacked" 73
Chapter 5 "The Pilots Did Not Appear Eager" 89
Chapter 6 "I Turned Back to Pick Him Up" 103
Chapter 7 "We Think We Destroyed the Mission" 123
Chapter 8 "Many Strange Faces" 142
Chapter 9 "I Hate to See Them Go" 168
Chapter 10 "Torn to Death" 184
Chapter 11 "Love to All and Write Real Often" 204
Chapter 12 "A Perfect Swan Dive" 227
Chapter 13 "It's All for the Best, Dad" 238
Chapter 14 "We Seemed to Be Awfully High" 249
Chapter 15 "He Was Even More Handsome in His Uniform" 271
Chapter 16 "Jap Fighters Making Long Range Passes" 283
Chapter 17 "I Inflated My Mae West" 299
Chapter 18 "I Jerked and Ducked Instinctively" 311
Chapter 19 "He Also Flew Missions with Several Other Crews" 318
Chapter 20 "Well, I'm Done For" 332
Notes and References 356
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Overall, Air Apaches is an educational, powerful, and intense read covering the evolution and implementation of the mission strategy of B-25's, used heavily for low level bombing and strafing, in the American 345th Bomb Group. The story is gripping, with tension and danger throughout. Jay Stout, through meticulous research including diaries, interviews, and archives, both educates and surprises us with this not well known aspect of Pacific War strategy. General George Kenney, serving under theater commander General Douglas MacArthur, was a "fixer", organizing and energizing the command and encouraging new weapons and new tactics using airpower. His airmen, whose stories we follow, hammered Japanese supply lines, along with destroying numerous ships and effectively isolating Japanese garrisons. Air Apaches was very readable and almost impossible to put down. Enjoying history, I have read a number of books regarding the war, along with hearing stories from family members who served, including a B-26 pilot and another serving in a B-17. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.