The Hellish Vortex: Between Breakfast and Dinner

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9781419647673: The Hellish Vortex: Between Breakfast and Dinner
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BGen Richard M. Baughn USAF (ret), who flew P-51’s with the 8th AF during WWII, has written a carefully researched historical novel that provides the reader with a graphic view of how the young USAAF airmen lived, fought and died. He also weaves relevant Anglo/American politics and American prewar interservice turf battles into the story and includes testimony by the German military and high ranking civilians to counter the detractors of the USAAF’s contribution to the war against Germany. Although the D-Day invasion of France is the centerpiece of the battle to end the Nazi occupation of Europe, the author reminds the reader that 60,000 British/American airmen were shot down or killed before D-Day. His research also reveals that 41,802 of the approximate 100,000 US Army Air Force pilots, navigators, bombardiers and aerial gunners assigned in Europe were killed in the fiercest aerial combat the world has seen. The US Navy, 3.3 million strong, lost 36,950 during WWII and 19,733 US Marines were killed from a total force of 475,604. "I started writing this book at the age of 84, because at the time, I read a best seller about a P-51 pilot in the 8th AF during WWII. It was a good read, but didn’t come close to telling the real story. My read of the best seller followed 65 years of observing how the accomplishments and sacrifices of the USAAF had been under told, ignored, or warped by stories about its mistakes. As a career air force officer, I decided to write a historical novel in an attempt to reach a broad audience--because I wanted to sing to more than just the choir."

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THE HELLISH VORTEX Between Breakfast and Dinner By Richard M. Baughn. 394 pp. BookSurge, 2006. $20.99.

Nonfiction books about air power abound, but there is a serious shortage of good air war novels. The Hunters, James Salter's classic tale of life in an F-86 fighter interceptor squadron during the Korean War, probably leads the field. World War II-era standouts include John Hersey's The War Lover, Len Deighton's Bomber, and Gerd Gaiser's The Last Squadron. (Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is in a class by itself.) So when a really fine aviation novel appears, we should take notice.

Richard M. Baughn's The Hellish Vortex is such a book, though it would be easy to overlook. It is a print-ondemand paperback and has not been heavily marketed. I only learned of it via word of mouth from a former professor, himself a retired USAF officer and decorated Vietnam War rescue helicopter pilot. He said, "Baughn was there and it shows.. .and he gets his history right!"

My professor is correct on both counts. Baughn had a long and distinguished air force career, taking F-105s "up north" during the Vietnam War and retiring as a brigadier general. For this novel, he reaches back to his experiences as a young lieutenant flying P-51 Mustangs with the Eighth Air Force. Baughn tells the tale of Robb Baines, a young pilot assigned to the fictional 345th Fighter Group at Goxhill. He follows his protagonist and his squadron mates through the winter of 1943-1944, the "Big Week" assault on German aircraft production, the first daylight raids on Berlin, the Normandy invasion to the Bulge, and after. His combat descriptions have the spare authenticity of an afteraction report and, at the same time, are completely gripping. He nails the details that bring the story to life, such as the disorienting terror of flying through bad weather, the petty annoyances of military bureaucracy, and the accidents that claimed as many friends as did the Luftwaffe. His vivid description of a rain-soaked takeoff--in which the Mustangs' propwash created "foamy cylinders" of vapor illuminated by the blue exhaust flames--is reminiscent of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Some historical novels, in order to establish context, either supply a great deal of background narration or else endow their protagonists with an unlikely knowledge of the war's strategic and political backdrop. Baughn very neatly manages to finesse this problem. Robb survives the war, and ten years later, as a major attending Armed Forces Staff College, he is determined to "learn more about the key players and what the hell went on behind the scenes." The result of this investigation-- Robb's staff college thesis--is presented at intervals throughout the novel, filling in the historical backdrop and showing Robb's mature reflection on the events he witnessed as a young man. It is a fine piece of historical writing in its own right.

The Hellish Vortex is not perfect. One of the major subplots, involving a romantic interlude and Robb's involvement in a clandestine mission, is somewhat contrived and depends upon a scries of implausible coincidences. Some of his characterizations might strike the reader as biased or unfair. His characters are scathing in their denunciations of British wartime leadership and performance, and U.S. Army ground commanders come in for similar rough treatment. Some may point out that Baughn fails to appreciate that our British allies faced very different priorities and challenges, or that disagreements about strategy were not always the product of national or service parochialism.

Yet Baughn is convinced that the airmen's sacrifice was not given its just due--and he comes by his perspective honestly. So honestly, in fact, that this book is generating a significant amount of interest within today's U.S. Air Force. They're on to something-- The Hellish Vortex is well worth your time. In the words of one of Baughn's protagonists, "To write about aerial combat, you got to have been there.. .seen it.. .felt it...and survived its hellish vortex." Or at least pay attention to those who have--and can take us there. --Dr. Richard R. Muller--USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

From the Author:

Why I wrote this book at the age of 84.

A few years before I decided to write The Hellish Vortex, I read a "Best Seller" about a World War II P-51 pilot flying combat with the British based 8th U.S. Army Air Force. It was an easy and enjoyable read, but didn't tell the story.
Since I had flown P-51's in combat with the 8th AAF during WWII, I decided to try my hand. I wanted to present a historically accurate accounting of the air war and a realistic story about how the young airmen lived, fought and died. It took several years to finish a carefully researched historical novel that tells what a 19-year-old fighter pilot saw and felt while flying in the fiercest aerial combat the world has ever seen.
But the story goes beyond what the young fighter pilot experienced. He learned how the U.S. Army ground forces and Navy had for years battled to stifle the development of Army airpower. It was a rivalry that started with the Army's reluctant purchase of its first aircraft in 1909 and continued until WWI. After WWI, the battle intensified and delayed the USAAF's preparedness for WWII. Following WWII the Army and Navy fought even harder to prevent the US Air Force from becoming a separate and equal service. The young fighter pilot also learned how American/British politics sometimes diverted the air effort from vital targets. Essential elements of these factors have been woven into the story to give it greater depth.
Most Americans rightfully believe the D-Day invasion of France to be the centerpiece of the battle to end the Nazi occupation of Europe. Almost forgotten are 60,000 American/British airmen who were shot down or killed during the two years preceding D-Day--battling the Luftwaffe and reducing Germany's military might to make the invasion possible. Although heavy air losses continued during the larger and more devastating air attacks that followed D-Day, much of that story has also been overlooked or downplayed.
While flying combat, it was obvious the US Army Air Forces in Europe suffered high losses. But I never realized how high they were and was surprised to learn that 41,802 American airmen were killed from the force of approximately 100,000 pilots, navigators, bombardiers and aerial gunners who fought in Europe. By comparison, the US Navy, with a force of 3.3 million, lost 36,950 during WWII and 19,733 Marines were killed from a total force of 475,604
Despite the airpowers enormous contribution during WWII, its detractors have de-emphasized it in the war against Germany. But the Wehrmacht generals and their men, who were on the receiving end of American/British air attacks, knew the true effectiveness of their air attacks. They said that the superior American and British airpower had been a major factor in Germany's defeat. In addition, General Omar N. Bradley, who commanded American ground forces in the D-Day invasion of France and the capture of Germany, said after the war, "From the high command to the soldier in the field, German opinion has been agreed that airpower was the most striking aspect of the Allied superiority."
My book is dedicated to the airmen of the U.S. Army Air Force who served in WWI and WWII and to the millions of past, present, and future airmen of the United States Air Force.

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Book Description BookSurge Publishing. Paperback. Condition: New. 394 pages. Dimensions: 8.6in. x 5.9in. x 1.2in.BGen Richard M. Baughn USAF (ret), who flew P-51s with the 8th AF during WWII, has written a carefully researched historical novel that provides the reader with a graphic view of how the young USAAF airmen lived, fought and died. He also weaves relevant AngloAmerican politics and American prewar interservice turf battles into the story and includes testimony by the German military and high ranking civilians to counter the detractors of the USAAFs contribution to the war against Germany. Although the D-Day invasion of France is the centerpiece of the battle to end the Nazi occupation of Europe, the author reminds the reader that 60, 000 BritishAmerican airmen were shot down or killed before D-Day. His research also reveals that 41, 802 of the approximate 100, 000 US Army Air Force pilots, navigators, bombardiers and aerial gunners assigned in Europe were killed in the fiercest aerial combat the world has seen. The US Navy, 3. 3 million strong, lost 36, 950 during WWII and 19, 733 US Marines were killed from a total force of 475, 604. I started writing this book at the age of 84, because at the time, I read a best seller about a P-51 pilot in the 8th AF during WWII. It was a good read, but didnt come close to telling the real story. My read of the best seller followed 65 years of observing how the accomplishments and sacrifices of the USAAF had been under told, ignored, or warped by stories about its mistakes. As a career air force officer, I decided to write a historical novel in an attempt to reach a broad audience--because I wanted to sing to more than just the choir. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781419647673

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Book Description Booksurge Publishing, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. BGen Richard M. Baughn USAF (ret), who flew P-51 s with the 8th AF during WWII, has written a carefully researched historical novel that provides the reader with a graphic view of how the young USAAF airmen lived, fought and died. He also weaves relevant Anglo/American politics and American prewar interservice turf battles into the story and includes testimony by the German military and high ranking civilians to counter the detractors of the USAAF s contribution to the war against Germany. Although the D-Day invasion of France is the centerpiece of the battle to end the Nazi occupation of Europe, the author reminds the reader that 60,000 British/American airmen were shot down or killed before D-Day. His research also reveals that 41,802 of the approximate 100,000 US Army Air Force pilots, navigators, bombardiers and aerial gunners assigned in Europe were killed in the fiercest aerial combat the world has seen. The US Navy, 3.3 million strong, lost 36,950 during WWII and 19,733 US Marines were killed from a total force of 475,604. I started writing this book at the age of 84, because at the time, I read a best seller about a P-51 pilot in the 8th AF during WWII. It was a good read, but didn t come close to telling the real story. My read of the best seller followed 65 years of observing how the accomplishments and sacrifices of the USAAF had been under told, ignored, or warped by stories about its mistakes. As a career air force officer, I decided to write a historical novel in an attempt to reach a broad audience--because I wanted to sing to more than just the choir. Seller Inventory # APC9781419647673

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