In the skies of World War II Europe, the Eighth Air Force was a defining factor in turning the tide against the Nazis. In these gripping oral histories, the sacrifice, savagery, and supremacy of the “Mighty Eighth” is described by those who experienced it...and survived it.
At the outbreak of World War II, America was woefully unprepared for a fight, though Europe was already years into the battle. Soon, though, America’s war machine was rolling out pilots, engineers, planes, and materials in astounding numbers. It was called the Eighth Air Force—and it would hit the Nazi juggernaut like a lightning bolt.
Launching a then-groundbreaking campaign of daylight bombing runs, the men of the Eighth would suffer more casualties than the entire Marine Corps in the Pacific theater. But they would also prove to be the most effective weapon against the enemy, taking out strategic targets such as munitions plants and factories that were vital to the German war effort and grinding them to a halt. In The Mighty Eighth, the men who fought in the greatest air war in human history tell their stories of courage and camaraderie as only those who were there can tell them.
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Corps created the Eighth Air Force as a major component in the Allied defense of Europe. Based out of England, pilots of the Mighty Eighth flew hair-raising daylight missions that came under heavy attack from German forces. By the end of the war, 350,000 airmen had served with the Eighth; 26,000 died. For this expert history, Astor , himself a WWII combat veteran, has tracked down over 80 former pilots and crew members, and has incorporated their stories into a detailed chronicle of the air war in Europe. The first-person testimony of these courageous men is invaluable in terms of understanding both the process of protracted war and its effect on the human spirit. Their anecdotes are fascinating. One pilot describes his dramatic struggle to think clearly while flying under the deadly influence of oxygen deprivation. Another recounts how, as a POW, he was hauled before a firing squad, then inexplicably allowed to live. Excelling in weaving these stories into a broader analysis of the Eighth's role in the air war with Germany, Astor demonstrates once again that he's one of the most accomplished oral historians at work today. Photos not seen by PW.