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Yanks Over Europe

Yanks Over Europe: American Flyers in World War II

Jerome Klinkowitz
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Yanks Over Europe
    Book Description:

    Contrasts between fighter combat and the bombers' war support Klinkowitz's belief that notions of the air war were determined by one's position in it. He extends his thesis by showing the vastly different style of air war described by veterans of the North African and Mediterranean campaigns and concludes by studying the effects of such combat on adversaries and victims.

    Air combat, Klinkowitz writes, offers a unique perspective on the nature of war. The experience of combat has inspired authors to combine exquisite descriptions with probing thoughtfulness, covering the full range of human expression from exultation to heartbreak. Here is a tightly drawn, highly readable account of the European air war.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6157-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction. Vets
    (pp. 1-10)

    THE PLANES ARE STILL with us, flying into regional airports across the United States every summer. Sometimes it’s for an air show, where they take their place among the fragile biplanes of an earlier era and the supersonic fighters here for a dazzling display of military aerobatics. More often they are by themselves or in tandem with another ship, barnstorming their way from field to field on a money-raising tour that keeps them in flight.

    War birds. Ghost squadrons, The sight is still spectacular, even when the B-17, the Flying Fortress once fancied as the mightiest plane aloft, taxies by...

  5. Chapter 1 Eagles
    (pp. 11-40)

    THERE WERE NOT MANY of them, these American pilots who were the first of their countrymen to fly combat missions from England during World War II—far less than even “the few” Winston Churchill memorialized as his country’s saviors in the Battle of Britain, a battle that was just ending in October 1940 when the first of three volunteer Eagle squadrons became operational with the Royal Air Force. As microcosmic as the Battle of Britain was, consisting on the British side of scarcely 700 fighters flown by just over 1,000 pilots, the American numbers were even smaller: only 244 flyers...

  6. Chapter 2 Fighter Jocks
    (pp. 41-70)

    AT THE END September 1942—after nearly two years as members of the RAF—the Eagle squadrons not only joined the United States Army Air Force but became the nucleus of what would become its key pursuit unit, the Fourth Fighter Group. The legacy these Eagle pilots brought with them is apparent in the preciously few words devoted to the units by their respective chief commanders, Air Chief Marshal Sholto Douglas and Gen. Henry H. Arnold. Of the 1,400 pages that comprise their memoirs, Douglas gives the Eagles two pages, Arnold three. And of the little they say, the greater...

  7. Chapter 3 Bombers
    (pp. 71-98)

    BOMBERS MAKE FREQUENT appearances in fighter pilot stories, but almost always as planes going down. It is never a pretty sight, but the observer still feels compelled to note what happens, such as when a direct hit from flak takes out a B-17 over Rennes. InThunderbolt!, Robert S. Johnson tells how “In an instant smoke obscured the airplane; a ripping blast hurled it backward from the formation. Then came the dark shapes of men leaping into space, and the joyful sight of silk opening, of ten men dropping safely.” The plane itself dies a slow death, slowly falling off...

  8. Chapter 4 Mediterranean Theater
    (pp. 99-126)

    BASED ON THE WAY flyers experienced it, the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) might have been part of a different war. Sometimes, especially near the end, objectives would be the same, and occasionally a squadron from the Fifteenth Air Force heading back south would see a formation from the Eighth turning west to England. But the planes themselves were different, with B-24 Liberators here, for the most part, as opposed to the Flying Fortresses that had been carrying the air war steadily eastward to Berlin. There were not as many Mustangs, either. Instead, aircrew from the Fifteenth would find themselves...

  9. Conclusion. Victims
    (pp. 127-138)

    A SIGNAL CONTRIBUTION of strategic air warfare is that it can be fought without directly facing the enemy. There are victims of such strategy, of course, but they are not engaged in their personhood. No fighter ace ever listed his bag of kills as so many German pilots; rather, his victories were over Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs. Likewise, no bomber mission was ever described as against “the people of Berlin”; instead, the target was named “Berlin” itself, as if tons of explosives were being dropped on an abstraction. From 20,000 feet, often through solid undercast and with guidance only by a...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 139-142)
  11. Index
    (pp. 143-148)