The Story of Tom Blacjburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17
Tom Blackburn with Eric Hammel
Introduction by Vice Admiral James Stockdale, USN (Ret.)
The Jolly Rogers is the true story of one of the U.S. Navy's foremost World War II fighter squadrons, VF-17, and its charismatic commander, fighter ace Tom Blackburn. In his action-packed war memoir and unit history, Blackburn describes VF-17's intense, winning campaign against the Japanese over the northern Solomon Islands and Rabaul in late 1943 and early 1944.
Beginning with his own experiences as a trainer of fighter pilots early in World War II and his leadership of a small carrier-based fighter squadron supporting the invasion of North Africa, Blackburn goes on to provide a rich, detailed account of how he shaped a crew of over-eager hotshots into one of the highest scoring fighter squadrons of World War II. In only seventy-six days of combat, Tom Blackburn's Jolly Rogers knocked down a record 154 enemy warplanes, and Blackburn himself emerged as one of VF-17's leading aces with eleven kills to his credit.
Boisterous at times, and sober at others, Blackburn explains the methods he used and example he set to shape and wield VF-17 before and during its South Pacific combat tour. Not least of the challenges facing Blackburn and VF-17 was taming the hot new Vought F4U Corsair fighter. Originally slated to serve aboard a fleet aircraft carrier, VF-17 was ultimately transferred to land-based duty when the Corsair proved too hot to handle during carrier-deck landings. Though the Corsair's teething problems were worked out by others-it eventually became a superb carrier-based fighter-bomber-it was Blackburn and his Jolly Rogers who proved the full potential of the Corsair as a killer of enemy airplanes.
Both a war memoir and a caring tribute to the aggressive, hold-nothing-back young men he trained and led in combat, Blackburn's story is an epic in World War II history annals.
Tom Blackburn, who was preparing to lead a carrier air group into combat when World War II ended, later commanded an aircraft carrier and retired as a captain in 1962. He passed away in 1994.
Eric Hammel is an acclaimed military historian with more than thirty-five books to his credit.
Critical Acclaim for The Jolly Rogers
Publishers Weekly says: "Blackburn was an exceptionally talented, resourceful, inspiring leader who imparted to his men a fierce warrior ethic . . . especially noteworthy is the author's straightforward description of the methods he used organizing, training, leading his pilots in combat and developing air tactics."
The Shipmate says: "Tom Blackburn [was] exceptional, and so is his book."
The Hook says: "Tom Blackburn [was] one of the most successful fighter squadron commanders the U.S. Navy ever produced . . . not only a cracking good story, but a valuable primer on dealing with the rugged individualists who populate naval aviation, Highly recommended."
The San Diego Union says: "[This] thrilling saga focuses on unsung heroes."
Stars and Stripes says: "In a book generously laced with tales of air combat, Blackburn talks of the days spent building VF-17 into an outfit with its own identity and then leading his men into combat . . . "
The Naval Institute Proceedings says: "Excellent . . . a well-rounded, coherent story that focuses on intense combat . . . As a professional's account of his squadron's . . . war, Blackburn's has no peer."
Kirkus Reviews says: "A macho, like-it-was memoir . . . a gritty, action-packed slice of WWII life."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It´s great that this book was released in mass market paperback. I have the hard-cover edition. It´s just marvellous !! Blackburn (who passed away in 1994) wrote a great book, with help from Eric Hammel. It is fast-paced, you thin you´re in the middle of the dogfight. But is not only that. The ground aspects, the enemies, the training, the destiny of the pilots after the War, everything is focused. The best WW II unit history I´ve ever written!