From the beginning, it was clear that Ralph Nutter was an exceptional navigator. Rapid promotion followed when he was assigned as Maj. Gen. Curtis the Eagle LeMay's personal navigator. Later, he was picked by Maj. Gen. Haywood Possum Hansell, the 20th Air Force Commander, to be his personal navigator. The author's vivid recollections of those halcyon years make for exciting, informative listening.
The author, Ralph Nutter, had an interesting war. In his memoirs he tells of his time as the group navigator in B-17s for Brig. General Haywood “Possum” Hansell and then as Col. Curtis “Eagle” Le May in the Eighth Air Force. Hansell was chief planner for the 8th Air Force under Gen. Carl Spaatz, and Le May replaced Hansell in the job. The attrition rate for bombers flying over Germany in daylight without fighter escorts in 1942-1943, was so high that, statistically, it was nearly impossible to complete a tour without injury or death.
Nutter tells the stories of his full complement of missions as group navigator in Europe, and then as the war winds down he transfers to the Pacific. He again is the navigator for Hansell flying B-29 Super fortress with Hansell, then with Le May when he took over from Hansell again.
After the War Nutter went to law school, practiced law then became a Judge. As his unit was beginning to die he decided to write his memoirs. The author did some research but he must have kept a detailed diary.
Nutter uses as a foil for discussion the two men he served under, Hansell and Le May. One was unable or unwilling to abandon high-formation, target specific bombing, even as it repeatedly demonstrated its unworkability. The other made the transition and came as close as anyone to proving that bombing alone can defeat the enemy.
The B-29 super fortress was the most expensive plane of its time. I was interested in Nutter’s comment about the Truman Commission and its investigation of the B- 29 particularly the engines which never seemed to work. Nutter goes into detail about the problems with the B-29 and with the problem of obtaining fighter cover for the bomber in Europe and Pacific.
This book reiterates the importance of encouraging WWII veterans to tell their stories while there is still time, for their perspective contains insights and lessons that extend well beyond the preservation of memory.
The book is relatively small volume, is easy to read and packed with lots of information. I enjoyed reading this book. Ed Altman narrated the book.
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