Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16

Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16

by Dan Hampton


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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The definitive history of combat aviation and fighter aircraft, from World War I to present


Lords of the Sky is the “dramatic, fast-paced, and definitive" (Michael Korda) history of fighter pilots and aircraft and their extraordinary influence on modern warfare, masterfully written by "one of the most decorated pilots in Air Force history” (New York Post). A twenty-year USAF veteran who flew more than 150 combat missions and received multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses, Lt. Colonel Dan Hampton draws on his singular firsthand knowledge, as well as groundbreaking research in aviation archives and rare personal interviews with little-known heroes, including veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Hampton (the New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot) reveals the stories behind history's most iconic aircraft and the aviators who piloted them: from the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane to the Mitsubishi Zero, Supermarine Spitfire, German Bf 109, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Hellcat, F-4 Phantom, F-105 Thunderchief, F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and beyond. In a seamless, sweeping narrative, Lords of the Sky is an extraordinary account of the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062262097
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/02/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 273,927
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dan Hampton flew 151 combat missions during his twenty years (1986–2006) in the United States Air Force. For his service in the Iraq War, Kosovo conflict, and first Gulf War, Col. Hampton received four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor, a Purple Heart, eight Air Medals with Valor, five Meritorious Service medals, and numerous other citations. He is a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons School, USN Top Gun School (TOGS), and USAF Special Operations School. A frequent guest analyst on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC discussing foreign affairs, military, aviation, and intelligence issues, he has published in Aviation History, the Journal of Electronic Defense, Air Force Magazine, Vietnam magazine, and Airpower magazine, and written several classified tactical works for the USAF Weapons Review. He is the author of the national bestsellers Viper Pilot and Lords of the Sky, as well as a novel, The Mercenary.

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Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of fighter pilots, vintage aircraft or just an all around military/history buff from World War I and II, Vietnam, Korean, and even our most recent military campaigns that involve aircraft, then trust me, you'll definitely want to get your hands on the latest book from Dan Hampton. Lords of the Sky takes readers into the history of aviation from the very first planes designed and attempted to be flown by such legends as the Wright Bros and to Etienne Montgofier who piloted the first balloon air reconnaissance in 1783. The books really takes to heart every conceivable well known plane, engines, and pilots and showcases them in a great chronological order that even a woman can understand and truly enjoy. The book isn't just about aviation either, is illustrates the reason for needing air support and just what is required before you simply attach a machine gun on to the top of your barn storming bi-plane. The details of flight from thrust, lift, drag and weight are critical components we take for granted when we board our commercial airlines and head for our tropical vacation destination. We learn how weaponry was added to this planes, and what the limitations of getting them to work entailed. From learning how not to shoot your propeller off, the dealing with the elements inside an open cockpit and what to do when you are wits end in the midst of a dog fight. It is hard to realize that in the years leading up to World War I, no one really gave serious thought to armed aircraft. In fact, the U.S. War Department turned the Wright brothers down on three occasions for a military version of their contraption, and the British secretary of war stated in 1910, "We do not consider that aeroplanes will be of any possible use for war purposes." We have certainly come a long way since that day. From fighting air battles with low visibility, freezing cold temperatures and your only weapon being a carefully aimed brick were just the things that pilots had to contend with. In fact in WWI, most pilots average life span was only 2 weeks. From the Red Baron, to the Royal Air Force, to the Mitsubishi Zero to Supermarine Spitfire, to the P-51 Mustang to the Grumman Hellcat all the way to the F-16 and F-18 SuperHornets, the aviation lover is bound to find something in this 600+ page hardcover book. "The Lords of the Sky is about the fighter pilot. It begins with the Great War, as World War I was originally known because the sky over the trenches was the birthplace of the fighter pilot. The development of fighter aircraft and the combat pilot was more closely tied to ground actions during the Great War than was the case in subsequent conflict. Aviation services were a fledgling military branch and closely attached to their parent armies. So the ground situation is explained in some detail to give the reader an explanation of why fighter development occurred as it did." (author note). I received Lords of the Sky by Dan Hampton compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own, unless otherwise notated. Even though as a woman book reviewer, I love the way Dan wrote this book. It wasn't so over the top with airplane jargon and detailed descriptions that I would find myself completely lost. In fact, it was just the opposite. I felt myself drawn into the background of the military campaigns and didn't realize how difficult winning a war was and what some of the overwhelming odds faced our armed forces. It gave me a greater appreciation not only for our service men and women but for fighter pilots who are often faced with solo survival in the midst of high altitude flying over enemy lines. Well worth the money to invest in this book for fans of military, fighter pilots, and war heroes alike who are looking for something completely different. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Not since the invention of the encyclopedia, do you have so much information packed into one book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This exceptional author writes a thrilling history of the parallel development of fighter aircraft and their brave and intrepid pilots as nations raced to adapt the ever-changing aviation technology to their war fighting arsenals.  The author includes vivid stories of  some of the lesser known fighter pilots whose valor and courage in combat have not previously been adequately reported.  As a former fighter pilot, I read this great book in total awe of those who flew before and after me and of the author.       James Daniels
MaureenG2 More than 1 year ago
A superb picture of an elite collection of warriors bound together by the adventure and fascination of flight in the wild, blue yonder from the hand of a gifted author and historian, written in a creative style that can be appreciated by any reader. Biddie Bartlett
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy flight and the evolution of the fighter in war this book belongs on your bookshelf. Dan Hampton has created a well written and researched book that traces the plane as recon in WW! through several wars and conflicts to become the supersonic hi-tech beast of today. The focus is on the driver of that beast and what makes them such champions and often hero's. Events are documented and personalized which helps the reader better understand the psyche of the pilot. I found it an excellent read.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Phil_P1 More than 1 year ago
This book could have been much better. The book is titled: "Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat", but the author devotes far too much time to the ground wars, and leaves off many famous fighter pilots. For example in the Great War (World War I), there is no mention of the accomplishments of Americans Frank Luke and Eddie Rickenbacker, the 2 greatest American Aces of that war. Granted, their time in combat was short, but in that short time, what they did accomplish was significant. In World War II, there is no mention of the exploits of the Flying Tigers, Major Greg Boyington and the “Black Sheep”, The “Great Marianas’ Turkey Shoot” , the effectiveness of the Hellcat in ending the Zero’s dominance (in one picture, a Hellcat is mislabeled as a Wildcat), The top American ace, Richard Bong, or the downing of Yamamoto’s plane. In the European theater, the accomplishments of Canadian Ace George Beurling was left out as were those of British ace Douglas Bader. Americans Don Gentile and Francis Gabreski were omitted (although Grabreski was mentioned in the section on Korea) to name a few, as were many other American aces. The Tuskegee Airmen (the Red Tails) were left out. Given the racial inequities in the American armed forces, their contribution deserves to be included. There were also inaccuracies: For example, during the section on the Korean War, he refers to the T-34 (a medium tank) as a “heavy tank” and stated the tah M4 and M24 tanks deployed could not stop it. In reality, the T-34 weighed less than the M4 Sherman (28 vs 34 tons) and the version of the M4 that fought in Korea, the M4A3E8 with its high velocity 76mm gun was more than a match for the T-34. Maybe Mr. Hampton should have put less detail in on the ground wars and concentrated on the air wars. HE also omitted many Korean War aces such as Joseph McConnell and James Jabarra to name a few. I think if the author had put less detail into the politics and the ground part of the wars and concentrated on the air wars, the book would have been much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author presents nothing new or overly enlighting. This book retells the pilot stories that have been told over and over. Yes he does some history, but i think its for the word count which does not add to the story line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In a statement: the best book on fighter pilots and air combat i have ever read. Even for someone without a large passion for the subject material, Hampton manages to grip the reader by beginning each chapter with a vivid story that puts you in the cockpit throughout history. Fighter pilots are truly shown to be a breed apart through these stories, the resurrection of the dueling knights of lore. Even in pitch combat the amount of respect and honor combat pilots have for each other is simply astounding. One story comes to mind of a Luftwaffe pilot landing his aircraft behind enemy lines to tend to the wounds of a French pilot he had just shot down. The German tended to the man, got his name and address to notify his family that he is alright, then flew back to his home air base and continued fighting for the rest of the war. Hampton's recounting of these real encounters demonstrates that fighter pilots are the resurrection of the dueling knights of lore, bound to honor even between enemies. Hampton explains the weapons and tactics used in a very descriptive way so that even someone not well versed in air combat could easily understand what is going on, and learn quite a lot. While there are some mistakes as others have noted, they are not major and only something a person very experienced in aviation history would notice. Maps are also provided in the back of the book to provide a visual aid into the major battles taking place. Fighter pilots have always been fighting at the cutting edge of technology since the very beginning, and it takes a special kind of skill, bravado, and bravery to join these elite warriors. This book is a collection of stories about these men, a completely different breed of soldier, a person who holds himself and his enemies to the highest regard, even in war. A man who fights higher, faster, and harder than anyone else in history. This is a book about the fighter pilot. "LEST WE FORGET."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SiriusBlack2028 More than 1 year ago
Dan Hampton is heralded as a great writer and noted for technical expertise; however, I barely made it through 1/4 of the way in this book and noted several glaring errors. In one instance, Hampton describes the British RE8 as a 'pusher' type aircraft (engine in rear) when in fact the RE8 is a 'tractor' type craft (engine in front). In another chapter he describes undoubtedly the most famous WWI aerial battle ever to occur between German Ace -Werner Voss, and the flight of 56 squadron led by British Ace James McCudden. In this account Hampton describes Voss's Fokker Triplane as bearing Voss' famous insignia of a "skull & crossed bones" - holy smokes!! Voss' personal insignia was a blazing red heart. The French Ace - Charles Nungesser's Nieuports 17 & 24 bore the famous skull & cross bones insignia with a black heart - not Voss. Needless to say these are pretty basic errors and I began to seriously doubt the historical accuracy of the accounts throughout the rest of the book accordingly. I would have rated the book a 1-star if it were not for the general reading enjoyment. So I guess I would say that if you enjoy reading books like this for the pleasure of it and are not really interested in historical accuracy, then you are probably good to go. I read these though for the historical truths - not fiction.
SmokeyJG More than 1 year ago
I have read many books on the history of flight and air combat. Dan Hampton has crated a riveting history of the fighter pilots. Well written and researched. I couldn't put it down. Hampton adds just enough of his voice to provide the feel of a writer who has lived the life. If you have limited time to read or research this is the book to start with. Great read, I can hardly wait for his next work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished this book. Luckily I checked it out at the library. Don't waste yiour money! Tomany times the author goes off topic and gives his one sided personal take on things. He definately sees the world through his eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PelotaRH More than 1 year ago
The author is an excellent writer and evidenced exceptional knowledge combined  with diligent research. Unfortunately, too often he flies off-course with material unrelated or barely related to the focus of the book: "Fighter Pilots and Air Combat From The Red Baron to the F-16." We learn a lot we need not know  about the World War I ground war but when he get to WW II he mentions but one American fighter pilot, Robert Olds. Nothing about Americas' outstanding  fighter pilots, the Marine Pappy Boyington, awarded a Medal of Honor. Or those  great  P-47 pilots, Gabreski, Bob Johnson, and Hub Zemke. And Richard Bong in  the Pacific, a P-38 pilot also. awarded a MOH and  the P-51 pilot, George  Preddy. I could name many others but that I'll leave to readers. Every  historian must decide what to include and what  not to include. But why,  I must ask, did the author go into great detail about the German Ju-87 Stuka  and its pilots. The Stuka is not a fighter aircraft but a dive-bomber and one  incapable of defending itself against enemy fighters. In the Battle of Britain,  for example, it had to be escorted by Me-109s to and from a mission. Yes, a very well-written and very interesting book. Unfortunately, he lost his focus thus the book is not what it ought to have been. Review Guidelines Tell the world what you think of this product.
Sgt_Slaughter More than 1 year ago
An excellent look into the history and evolution of fighter combat from its inception in WWI to the present day. The author is a highly decorated American F-16 Viper Pilot, and very capably tackles this project. An excellent read. All the big name fighter pilots are in here-Boelcke, Von Richtofen, Hartmann, Galland, Olds, etc. The only one he didn't have in here that I thought was a glaring omission was Richard Ira Bong (WWII P-38 pilot, highest scoring American fighter pilot in WWII with 40 confirmed kills). I can forgive this, because of the sheer volume of information and aces he highlights. He does not just do the German and American aces, but include overviews of Russian and Japanese aces. The bibliography is a treasure trove of further reading! Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found numerous errors, confusing text and photo caption errors in just skimming through for a few minutes, at random. Needed better editing before publication, at a minimum. Highly over-priced at $30 for all of the errors. On the F-4 Phantom II, the author is confused about the Navy F4H and the follow-on USAF version once designated as F-110A Spectre. In describing combat in the Phantom II, he complains that the USAF should have changed the rear cockpit, failing to appreciate the Navy had already done so on the prototype YF4H-1, to the max they could. Back-seaters Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) and Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) are USAF terms only (Navy used Radar Intercept Officer, not mentioned in the book). The author then says the roles depended on the type of fuel used. Huh??? A footnote on the same page also made no sense, clearly an editing gaffe. Corsair F4U's are improperly and consistently written as F-4U and the F4U-4 is listed as a Korean-war only plane, when the type actually entered service in late WW II. In the photos, SBD Dauntlesses are seen on a carrier deck with distinct markings for Operation TORCH in North Africa in late 1942 but the caption says they are on a ship in the Pacific, headed to Midway to avenge Pearl Harbor. Another photo describes a famous photo of a crash-landed F6F Hellcat and calls it an F4F Wildcat, something that any competent historian would not get wrong. Admittedly, this was a brief look but I find that when you discover errors this easily and quickly, the rest of a book is usually riddled with errors and certianly NOT worth a $30 price tag. In a description of F/A-18 Hornet combat during Desert Storm, the author describes an AGM-42 Walleye bomb being dropped. There is no such thing. The Walleye II is designated AGM-62. The first generation Walleye was used in Vietnam, not Desert Storm. With all due respect to the author for his accomplishments as an F-16 pilot, it is unfortunate that he does not seem to know more about Navy aircraft or those that originated as Navy designs. As a further example, the F4U Corsair is described as serving in the Pacific only with the Marines from land bases and cited accurately as having an 11:1 kill ratio. What is not mentioned is that two Navy squadrons ALSO flew the Corsair from land bases in 1943 and the Navy would finally get Corsairs back on carriers by December 1944, just in time to blunt the Kamikaze threat. The F6F Hellcat had a higher kill ratio of 19:1 but most people get this confused and fail to understand that the Hellcats had more air-to-air kill opportunities than the Corsair. Had conditions been similar, the Corsair would have outpaced the Hellcat kill ratio by several factors. The mission was different, with much of the Corsair duty being close air support and interdiction. There was also no mention of the carrier deployment of of F4U-2 night fighters much earlier, and the Royal Navy's use of their Corsairs on their carriers. This gives the impression that much of the supposed history in this book is simplified, glossed over and missing a great deal of solid information.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fighter pilots really interest me, so I found this book to be really interesting. Dan Hampton certainly knows his material and presents it in a very interesting fashion. I highly recommend Lords of the Sky for any aviation enthusiast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cat res at 4 want a new den? (Meow) hahahahaa cant stop the cats from doing reviews!