November 1943May 1945The U.S. Army Air Forces waged an unprecedentedly dogged and violent campaign against Hitler’s vital oil production and industrial plants on the Third Reich’s southern flank. Flying from southern Italy, far from the limelight enjoyed by the Eighth Air Force in England, the Fifteenth Air Force engaged in high-risk missions spanning most of the European continent. The story of the Fifteenth Air Force deserves a prideful place in the annals of American gallantry.
In his new book, The Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler’s War Machine, Tillman brings into focus a seldom-seen multinational cast of characters, including pilots from Axis nations Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria and many more remarkable individuals. They were the first generation of fliersfew of them professionalsto conduct a strategic bombing campaign against a major industrial nation. They suffered steady attrition and occasionally spectacular losses. In so doing, they contributed to the end of the most destructive war in history.
The Forgotten Fifteenth is the first-ever detailed account of the Fifteenth Air Force in World War II and the brave men that history has abandoned. This book is a must-read for military history enthusiasts, veterans, current servicemen and their families. Includes glossy photo signature of historic pictures and documents
About the Author
Barrett Tillman is the author of Whirlwind in addition to more than 40 books and 550 articles. He is a familiar television commentator with over a dozen credits on The History Channel and National Geographic Channel. The Wall Street Journal hailed him as “a master story teller,” and Pulitzer Prizewinner Stephen Hunter called Whirlwind “a miracle of military history.” Tillman’s work has been cited in dozens of history books and has been used as course work by the Air Force, the Navy, and Marine Corps. Barrett Tillman lives in Arizona with his wife Sally.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Up from the Desert 1
November 1943-January 1944
Chapter 2 The Winter War 27
Chapter 3 Italian Spring 55
Chapter 4 East to Ploesti 81
Chapter 5 Mediterranean Summer 115
Chapter 6 Other Players 149
Chapter 7 Air Supremacy 183
Chapter 8 Mission Accomplished 215
Chapter 9 Legacy 247
May 1945 and beyond
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Barrett Tillman’s Forgotten Fifteenth is the best book he has written. When I first opened the Forgotten Fifteenth I was only going to skim the contents and maybe the preface. Next thing I knew I was through Chapter 2! Such is the power of Barrett Tillman’s writing. Over many books he has honed his skill at writing popular history combining not only facts, but the personal side of events into an eminently readable form. Why I call this his best is the subject. The 15th Air Force has not received the coverage that important unit deserves. Some aspects have be written about, but until now a comprehensive and readable history has not been available. (A facetious reason why the 8th Air Force got better press came from a 15th Air Force bomber crewman, “If you were a war correspondent would you rather sip scotch in a London hotel or swig vino under canvas at Foggia?”) Tillman began collecting interviews from the men who were there soon after he began his writing career many years ago when many of them were alive. He saved them because, “they might be useful”. They certainly are and make this book an invaluable asset. Most of these veterans are gone, but their experiences live on in the Forgotten Fifteenth. As a historian, this reviewer knows the enormous amount of time required for even the smallest of facts. How many people know there was a Yugoslavian unit operating within the 15th flying B-24s? Or that P-80 Shooting Stars were flying in Italy in 1944? Tillman also excels at finding meaningful statistics and presenting them in a readable fashion; Which targets were the most dangerous, B-24 production rate, airmen’s pay converted to 2012 dollars, among many more. A favorite chapter covers “Weather scouts, Photo Joes, Droop Snoots, Yugos, and Carpetbaggers”. If there is any doubt about the effort required, check the Notes and bibliography sections for everything which he studied to make this history accurate,,, and readable.
Finally, a much needed book that gives the Fifteenth its due, the only other source being Osprey Books on individual bomber and fighter groups. In his introduction Tillman states that the role of the Tuskegee Airmen would be covered in proportion to their actual service, and very honest coverage and evaluation of their meager role follows. The detailed descriptions and explanations of encounters with Eastern European air forces as well as reference to the experiences of individual airmen adds reams to one's store of knowledge and understanding of the MTO. Bravo for Tillman !
The air war out of Britain has been very well chronicled. Not so for the war that flew from North Africa and then Italy. This book does a great job of detailing what happened in the 15th Air Force. A very informative and enjoyable read.
Forgotten Fifteenth Remembered A number of books have been written describing the experiences of the "Mighty 8th" Air Force during World War II, but the "Forgotten 15th" has been in danger of being just that - forgotten. Here, well-known aviation historian Barrett Tillman aims to mention every flying group in the 15th in an effort to tell a complete story of their contributions to the war. Aside from reading about them in Flying Fortress, they are lesser known than other groups. Thank goodness Tillman thought to collect interviews from these men while they were still alive because aviation and war buffs will really enjoy his re-telling of this dramatic period. The extremely courageous men in "The Forgotten Fifteenth" took on an enormous task that involved crippling Germany's oil production. They may have suffered great losses in their various missions, but they were pivotal in bring World War II closer to its end. It's easy to think of wars and military operations as being carried out by machines rather than men, but men give their lives and often go unrecognized for their sacrifices. Tillman's book ensures that the 15th will have their place in military history.
Barrett Tillman is a seasoned aviation writer and this may well be his best book yet. His writing style is clear and factual, yet he holds the reader's interest all the way through. The 15th AF has been over-looked by historians or they focus on but one particular Fighter Group. But Tillman covers it all, moving from the general sweep of history to the individual histories. Experienced readers of aviation history will find a well organized book and will learn a new perspective on the air war "down south." New readers will be well introduced to this AF history.