Wings of War: Great Combat Tales of Allied and Axis Pilots During World War II. By James P. Busha. Minneapolis, Minn.: Quarto Publishing Group, 2015. Illustrations. Photographs. Index. Pp. 256. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0-7603-4852-9
This book had its genesis in the 1990s, when James Busha began interviewing a few World War II airmen simply because he wanted to learn what it was like to fly in combat in aircraft similar to the Aeronca L-3 he flew as a private pilot. Over the next two decades Busha's desire to satisfy his personal curiosity grew into a major effort to capture first-hand accounts from as many combat veterans as possible. From the countless narratives Busha collected, he chose several dozen for Wings of War. Here are two of the many that stand out:
Geoff Fisken of the Royal New Zealand Air Force flew a Brewster Buffalo in 1941-1942, before moving on to P-40s. After taking delivery of 170 Buffalos, the Royal Air Force deemed the type to be unsuitable for combat against the Luftwaffe and shipped all the aircraft to the Pacific to be flown by the air forces of Australia and New Zealand. Considered by many to be one of the worst fighters of the war, the Buffalo was clearly inferior to the Zero and other Japanese fighters it faced, but it did have its moments. Fisken was the highest scoring Buffalo ace in Southeast Asia, with six kills to his credit in less than two months in combat. Fisken understandably enjoyed flying the Buffalo, but he was one of the few pilots who did.
Most stories about Glacier Girl deal with the end of the story: how the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was recovered and restored to flying status decades after it crashed in Greenland in 1942. U.S. pilot Brad McManus was there at the beginning. McManus's P-38 was one of eight that accompanied two B-17s as the ten aircraft headed to England as part of the massive build-up of Allied forces. The flight...