Aces high : the heroic saga of the two top-scoring American aces of World War II

by Bill Yenne

Hardcover, 2009




New York : Berkley Caliber, 2009.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Chris_El
"Heroes are defined by their own heroism, but their legends are defined by those who celebrate that heroism." (Page 165)

I've heard Major Bong mentioned multiple times in my WWII aviation reading. But this is the first book recounting his exploits I've read. It follows the air war in the south pacific pretty well and uses Japanese ace Saburo Sakai's information as a supplement to talk about some of the encounters.

This book is a dual biography of Bong and Maj Thomas McGuire. Towards the end of the war they were both racking up air kills and the media ran with the story. Bong ended with an official count of 40 and McGuire was at 38. Both pilots were awarded the medal of honor for their skill and daring.

The book starts out talking about the boyhoods of each of the books and discusses their goals for learning how to fly one day. Then it talks about their training. Each of them had minor mishaps during training but survived. Interesting to think about their generation in war conditions were given some room to fail, learn, and recover.

There is discussion about the different airframes that the boys trained on and the aircraft in the war zone. Both Bong and McGuire were P-38 pilots and the capabilities of their airframe versus others available are discussed briefly.

McGuire was fortunate enough to fly with Charles Lindbergh and Lindbergh was able to show the pilots how to fly in such a way as to conserve fuel. This allowed the P-38 pilots to increase their effective range. Lindbergh was also able to fly several combat missions with the P-38 pilots. It must have been amazing to fly with your boyhood hero as a young man.

Overall the book was well written. This could make a good movie.
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