When the 82nd Fighter Group was organised in March 1942, most of its initial pilot cadre was comprised of newly graduated staff sergeant pilots of Class 42-C - enlisted men! They learned to fly the P-38 at Muroc, in California's Mojave Desert, and then moved to the Los Angeles area to continue their training and to serve as part of its air defence. In September 1942 the group was transported to the East Coast, from where it shipped out to Ireland on the Queen Mary. By this time all its remaining sergeant pilots had been commissioned. As of VE-Day the 82nd Fighter Group's score of confirmed aerial victories stood at 548 aircraft shot down, plus a huge amount of enemy materiel - including aircraft - destroyed on the ground and the sea. It had been awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The cost of this success was high, however, for around 250 of the group's pilots had either been killed in action or captured.
About the Author
Steve Blake, a retired US civil servant and a freelance writer and editor, has been researching and writing about World War 2 fighter operations for more than 30 years. This is his third book on the Lightning, and he has had dozens of articles published in various periodicals. For the past ten years he has also been editor of Lightning Strikes, the official publication of the P-38 National Association.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Training Daze 7
Chapter 2 North African air war 11
Chapter 3 Mediterranean Isles 29
Chapter 4 Italy - Target and Home 41
Chapter 5 Strategic Lightnings 62
Chapter 6 Letdown 86
Colour Plates Commentary 91