Beginning just prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944, the groups young pilots (most were barely twenty years old and fresh from flight training in the United States) flew in close support of Eisenhowers ground forces as they advanced across France and into Germany. They flew the rugged, heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt, aka the Jug. Living in tents amid the cold mud of their front-line airfields, the 365ths daily routine had much in common with that of the G.I.s they supported.
Their war only stopped with the Nazi surrender on May 8, 1945. During their year in combat, the Hell Hawks paid a heavy price to win the victory. Sixty-nine pilots and airmen died in the fight across the continent. The Groups 1,241 combat missions -- the daily confrontation of sudden, violent death -- forged bonds between these men that remain strong sixty years later. This book will tell their story, the story of the Hell Hawks.
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About the Author
Robert F. Dorr is an air force veteran (Korea, 1957–1960) and the author of sixty books. He has written thousands of articles for publications like Air and Space Smithsonian, Flight Journal, Air Forces Monthly, Air Power History, Aerospace America, and Air Force Times. Dorr lives with his family in Oakton, Virginia.Thomas D. Jones is a veteran astronaut and consultant. He holds a Ph.D. in planetary sciences, flew on four space shuttle missions, and piloted B-52D bombers before joining NASA. He has written for Air and Space Smithsonian, Aerospace America, and Popular Mechanics. His autobiography is Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir. Jones lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Hell Hawks over Normandy 9
Chapter 2 Over the Beach 21
Chapter 3 Who Were the Hell Hawks? 35
Chapter 4 Hedgerow Breakout 53
Chapter 5 Falaise and the Race across France 73
Chapter 6 Bradley's Aerial Hammer: Tank-Busting across France 89
Chapter 7 The War of the Regular Guys 107
Chapter 8 Stalemate over the Hurtgen 119
Chapter 9 Air-To-Air 133
Chapter 10 Thunderbolts over the Bulge 153
Chapter 11 Death from Above 171
Chapter 12 "That Is What Is Beating Us" 185
Chapter 13 Getting Shot Down 199
Chapter 14 Moving Up 211
Chapter 15 Into the Reich 225
Chapter 16 Fighting the Jets 241
Chapter 17 The Price of Victory 253
Chapter 18 The New Boys 265
Chapter 19 Reckoning 279
Chapter 20 Final Mission 291
Appendix: What Happened to Them? 303
What People are Saying About This
"The product of four years of research, [Hell Hawks!] doesn't merely entertain with 'I was there' tales of intrepid aviators, it takes the reader back to a time of our 'greatest generation,' and puts one alongside boys just out of their teens, uprooted from their peacetime lives and thrust, for example, into the cauldron of the Battle of the Bulge...gripping, accurate, and engaging."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was even better than I was hoping for. Definitely one you are sad to put down when you finish it. It is a great combination of history and pilot stories weaved together. They take you from Normandy all the way to Berlin. Few historians give the P47 "Jug" and their pilots their due. Less glamorous plane than the P51 Mustang, but had the ability to withstand unbelievable damage. The P47 was to WWII what the A10 Warthog is to modern combat. Neither are the prettiest airplanes, but definitely the one ground troops wanted flying cover. The is a fine tribute to the bravery citizen-soldiers could display, while fighting battle hardened German Army and the Luffwaffe. WWII pilots wrote the book for the close-air-support flying that still is in use today.
In Hell Hawks!, a project four years in the making, Bob Dorr and Tom Jones have crafted a page-turning story of the P-47's indispensable role in winning the war in Europe. It doesn't matter if your interest is strategic, tactical, or personal. It doesn't matter if you're a military historian or if your interest in World War II has recently been sparked by watching Ken Burns' PBS masterpiece, The War. Each perspective, from the names you probably know 'Eisenhower, Vandenberg, and perhaps Quesada', to those you don't 'Steckel, Charles R. Johnson, and a host of pilots and enlisted men' is brought to light with burning clarity, amazing accuracy, and moving narrative. With the 'big picture' always in mind, the reader can find out what was happening on the flight-line, in the cockpit, and behind the scenes as the 365th Fighter Group moved constantly across the continent to plow the way for the allied advance. The courage and valor of the Greatest Generation is brilliantly brought forward to a new generation. You may already know a lot about the big picture but Hell Hawks! tells you why Major David N. Harmon, the assistant group ops officer has added 'The Luckiest Man Alive' beneath his signature for 63 years. You may have heard that the 'Jug' was a tough airframe In this book you will witness a P-47 cartwheel across a field losing the tail, engine, and both wings in a crash landing less than a quarter mile from the fluid German-American lines in October, 1944. After observing this crash learn why the GIs in a nearby Jeep motioned for the stunned and injured pilot, Lieutenant Bob Hagan, to come to them about 100 yards across a field instead of driving over to pick him up. This book is a must read and a great tribute.
Before reading this book I thought I knew much about World War two, I knew the main causes of the war, most of the generals' names and many of the unit's names. I knew where all the major battles of WWII were fought and could draw most of the allied troop movements on a map. However, I never new much about how important close air support was to the war effort. The book mostly fallows a P47 fighter bomber division called the Hell Hawks. They lead a merciless campaign in Europe against Hitler's Whermacht forces from before D day, to the battle of the Bulge, and eventually even the destruction of the Reich. The book depicts the gritty and lackluster lifestyle that the pilots had as well as outlines major Allied plans and the roll of the Hell Hawks in those plans. Most importantly however, it talks about how the pilots and mechanics formed bonds and eventually became an "Ariel Band of Brothers". The books main themes are how horrific war is and the importance of the Hell Hawks. It shows these themes by providing graphic accounts of the destruction left by the planes quick and accurate bombing as well as providing quotes from Germans showing how terrifying and deadly a P47 attack was and the how it overall affected the German tactics. As you read further and further you eventually began to feel the rushes of dog fighting and strafing as well as feel the horror and pain of seeing mutilated horses and men. This book does a very effective job of showing how terrible war really is. This book is very good for Historians and people who like to learn about WWII but I would not recommend it for people who casually read non fiction. You have to have a want to learn about WWII because the book can become dry in some parts when relating to generals and overall plans of the war. It is also very hard to fallow all the pilots in the story because so many names are thrown out at once the reader can really only focus on the action of the group as a whole. On a better note, the historical accuracy and the amount of research in this book is absolutely AMAZING! There are so many quotes from men in the Hell Hawks as well as their German counterparts that really brings to life the devastation and terror caused by the Hell Hawks, and how gritty World War Two was for fighter bomber pilots. Overall, if you love heroic war stories of WWII as much as I do this book is for you! You will be blown away by its accounts of strafing and bombing runs as well as add knew knowledge about commanders and tactics used in WWII.
I'm still waiting for this book to come out. But I was there when Tom was interviewing all these great old timers. At one of there reunions. We plan on being at there next reunion this August 2008. We hope to see Tom and his book there. Then we'll write to you all again. I'm sure it will be very good. Tom knows his stuff.
Good read about a less documented aspect of the Air War in Europe. In WWII the 8th took all the glory, the 9th did all the ground work. They were the grunts friends.
I agree with the other reviewers. This is one of the best books of ariel combat I’ve had the pleasure to read. Goes into great personal accounts of the brave pilots who flew the P-47 Thunderbolt. Just a great read and ‘ worth every penny. Couldn’t put it down.
Mr. Dorrs description of the Hawks close air support from D-Day to deep into Germany operating from behind the front lines is fantastic. He shows how unique circumstances changes "the guy next door" into a untold hero. An amazing view of history.
Great story for WW 2 fans and those that like airplanes in general. These pilots flew at over 500 mph diving down to the earth, were compressability became a death sentence for the unwary pilot. The pilots courage brought them so close to the ground, that their P-47's returned with tree branches lodge in the cowling. There mission eventually falls into the role of close air ground support, with their own pilots manning forward observation posts from tanks in Patton's 3rd army and pilots flying 3 or more missions on days the planes could get off the ground. The ground crews worked many many hours and their forward operating bases were routinely attacked by the Luftwaffe, they were closer to the combat troops on the front line than most of the other fighter squadrons in the US Air Corp. The bases were not concrete but mud and metal. Many days they were grounded due to bad weather, instrumentation back then was a ball and turn indicator and airspeed dial it seemed to me, as I turned page after page. Very well done and excellent read, highly recommend.
Well written account. Hard to put it down. Only wish there was more!