During the air battles that destroyed Nazi Germany's ability to wage war, one bomb group was especially distinguished.
The Hell's Angels.
At the outbreak of World War II, the United States was in no way prepared to wage war. Although the US declared war against Germany in December 1941, the country lacked the manpower, the equipment, and the experience it needed to fight. Even had an invasion force been ready, a successful assault on Nazi-occupied Europe could not happen until Germany's industrial and military might were crippled.
Because no invasion could happen without air superiority, the first target was the Luftwaffe - the most powerful and battle-hardened airforce in the world. To this end, the United States Army Air Forces joined with Great Britain's already-engaged Royal Air Force to launch a strategic air campaign that ultimately brought the Luftwaffe to its knees. One of the standout units of this campaign was the legendary 303rd Bomb Group - a.k.a. Hell's Angels.
This is the 303rd's story, as told by the men who made it what it was. Taking their name from their B-17 of the same name, they became one of the most distinguished and important air combat units in history. The dramatic and terrible air battles they fought against Germany changed the course of the war.
©2015 Jay A. Stout (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
It's difficult to say--I sure didn't like to stop listening.
Although the stories of air combat are told in a way that's both exciting and personal, it's not just about air combat, which, when overdone, can get numbing or overwhelming. The fighting is woven into a total story of strategy, tactics, equipment and people. And it tells the story of the support personnel as well--these are the folks who made sure the aircraft and men were ready for each mission. And it includes lots of personal stories and vignettes that make the men and what they did that much more real. Altogether it makes a very engaging story.
Robertson Dean performs this amazing story with the gravitas it warrants while simultaneously drawing the reader into the gut-wrenching action that typified the air war over Europe. His timing and tempo, together with his ability to apply nuance and heart, move the book along perfectly. It's difficult to imagine this book read by anyone else.
Terror, heart and sacrifice at five miles high.
There is probably no better start-to-finish narrative history of a World War II Bomb Group.
Very well-narrated. The actual "story" of the 303rd and it's men is only about half the book. The other half is about the B-17 bombers, emerging technologies, and mission experiences. While I enjoyed this level of detail and background, it may appear more like a text book to many readers. The most important part of this book is that it does not shy away from the personal and physical impacts of combat.
Definitely. As a former combat fighter pilot, the author has an in-depth knowledge of the subject, and he is a master storyteller.
Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer. They complement one another and Hell's Angels is largely about the personal reflections of flight crews and Half a Wing goes into technical aspects and covers the aftermath of the war on former combatants who meet one another.
BG Robert Travis, Commander 41st Bomb Wing
Saddened by all the carnage
January 14, 2016
"Hell’s Angels" is a true story about "20 something" youngsters who became men overnight. They volunteered as pilots and crew members in many of the most important and dangerous aerial missions in WWII. Jay Stout, the author, is a former combat fighter pilot who has "been there, and done that," and now plies his skills as a master story teller.
We owe these men a debt of gratitude, the history is enthralling along with the men and their stories. You get to know some of the thousands and thus become involved in their lives.
A true account of what it was really like to be in a B-17 crew in the dangerous sky's of Europe. They fought as a team and died as a team while slowly eroding the Nazi industrial complex. A great historical account of the Army Air Force.
Unable to choose one over the next. The book rubs the readers nose right into what the air war was like.
No, but I will look for more of Mr. Dean's writings.
As a former Airman, I had noting but respect for the men that got into those B-17's each day knowing that a large percentage would not return.
One of the best overall accounts of the air war I have read.
A true, amazing story of the 303 from training to wars end. One of the best 17 histories I've read
Factual, Horrific, Detailed
There was no singular "character" to have as a favorite. There are so many incredible, individual accounts and reports that it is impossible to remember any one person. You have to think of this collection of events as a larger picture of the accomplishment and sacrifices of the group as a whole.
No, but he did very well to bring the words to life in a way that was not trying speculate or interpret. No misplaced dramatic reading or odd inflections, very appropriately done.
There are many examples of individual dedication and sacrifice but there is one story that stood out to me. A B17 damaged and attempting to make it back to England. Short on fuel. The crew had jettisoned everything possible to help the plane make it back over the north sea. The pilot was badly injured. When the pilot was informed that everything was out except the crew he ordered the crewman to push him out of the plane to improve the odds for the rest of the crew to make it back. Though he insisted, they did not. Incredibly selfless.
I found every word to be interesting although this book was not what I had expected. I expected this to be more of an evolving "Bad of Brothers" type story but found it to be more of a comprehensive accounting, almost like a four year after action report. The occasional witness accounts from civilians provided welcome breaks from some long sections of verbatim military reports.The book did well to meet the stated objective of the author, I believe it will be referenced for many years by anyone researching this topic in general or of the 303rd bombardment group in particular.
Report Inappropriate Content