The Last Flight of Bomber 31 : Harrowing Accounts of American and Japanese Pilots Who Fought in World War II's Arctic Air Campaign

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9780786716845: The Last Flight of Bomber 31 : Harrowing Accounts of American and Japanese Pilots Who Fought in World War II's Arctic Air Campaign
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Through meticulous research and unprecedented interviews with Japanese and American combatants, award-winning author Ralph Wetterhahn provides a breathtaking account of the nose-to-tail air war between American and Japanese flyers above the Bering Sea. Dubbed riders of the "Empire Express," American pilots stationed in the Aleutians flew nine-hour missions, 1,500 miles round-trip in subzero temperatures, to bomb Japanese installations in the Kuril Islands. While on his ongoing quest to give a full account of MIAs and POWs, Wetterhahn investigated the crash sites of two Empire Express planes found in the Soviet Far East in 2000 and 2001, and here re-creates their crews' daunting exploits. With unrivaled mastery of aviation, warfare, and military forensic evidence, Wetterhahn rescues from obscurity the final moments of U.S. Navy pilot Walt S. Whitman, who made a forced landing with his crew on the Kamchatka Peninsula. He also details the missions flown by Japan's pilots and the fate of Japanese captured by the Soviets and interned in Siberia. The Last Flight of Bomber 31 is a moving testament to the impulse to account for all servicemen left behind.

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About the Author:

Colonel Ralph Wetterhahn (Ret.) is a trained aircraft crash investigator and the author of The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War, about three marines captured and killed by the Khmer Rouge during the final combat action of the Vietnam War and a novel about the search for lost airmen, Shadowmakers. His articles are widely read in Air & Space/Smithsonian, Popular Science, VFW, and Military Officer Magazine. During his military career he flew 180 combat missions for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. Wetterhahn, who was featured in the 2003 Nova documentary, The Last Flight of Bomber 31,” lives in Long Beach, California.

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Ralph Wetterhahn
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