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Or Go Down in Flames: A Navigator's Death Over Schweinfurt

Wood, W. Raymond

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ISBN 10: 0962761397 / ISBN 13: 9780962761393
Published by Sarpedon 1st printing, NY, 1993
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[8], 230 p., photos, ills, maps, appendix, notes, biblio, index, 8vo; Fine/Fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 55678

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Or Go Down in Flames: A Navigator's Death ...

Publisher: Sarpedon 1st printing, NY

Publication Date: 1993

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Though American and British air power may be unrivaled in today's world, this was certainly not the case during Europe's last great war. Half a century ago, when our airmen flew against Nazi Germany, horrific casualties resulted on both sides, and certain battles fought by the Allied powers can be termed nothing less than calamitous.
"Black Thursday"' the second Schweinfurt raid, was the most savagely fought air battle in American history, and a milestone in the course of World War II. On October 14, 1943, the United States Eighth Air Force launched nearly 300 bombers deep into German territory to destroy the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, hoping this would bring German industry to a halt.
On that clear, sunlit day, hundreds of German fighters raced among the unescorted B-17s, guns blazing, knocking down plane after plane, each with ten men aboard. Other German aircraft flew just outside machine-gun range of the tightly packed formations, lobbing rockets that exploded into thousands of pieces of shrapnel.
U.S. bombers that split off from a formation, either wounded, disoriented, or with other difficulty, became prey for the agile packs of German fighters who would set upon them like wolves thirsty for a kill.
By the end of the day, the flight path of the Flying Fortresses was marked across the breadth of Germany by towering pillars of smoke from crashed machines, fiery tributes to 600 lost airmen.
W. Raymond Wood was just a child when his brother was lost in the Schweinfurt raid, and the minute detail of this book is the result of his multi-year effort to illuminate "Black Thursday" as no writer has before.
Wood not only reveals the experience of the American flyers in this famous battle, but that of the civilians on the ground and the enemy fighters who flew against the B-17s (including the Me-110 pilot who in all probability destroyed his brother's plane with a rocket).
Illustrated with 48 pages of photos and original documents, Or Go Down in Flame examines the air war against the Third Reich, then brings the reader into the center of harrowing air combat, and finally chronicles the little-known operations after war's end to retrieve and identify our dead.
The young navigator who sacrificed his life over Schweinfurt, after first being buried in the German village in which he fell, is at last recovered by RAF and American War Graves Command teams, then returned to Nebraska, where his family had anxiously awaited news of the discovery of his remains.
W. Raymond Wood has provided not only an important work of historical research, but the intimate account of a death in one of World War II's greatest battles - an air battle fought by men in machines that helped to shape our modern world.

About the Author:

W. Raymond Wood is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri.

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