Paul Cora's Book 'Yellowjackets'
The 361st Fighter
Group in WW II
Size: 8 1/2" x 11"
Illustrations: over 130 b/w and color photos, color aircraft profiles
Pages: 152 pages
Yellowjackets! The 361st Fighter Group in World War II is a narrative history of a combat unit attached to the U.S. 8th Air Force in the European Theater of Operations from December 1943 through the end of the war in Europe. Based on intensive research in original unit documents, oral history interviews, and written recollections of surviving pilots and ground personnel, Yellowjackets! traces the history of the 361st Fighter Group (374th, 375th and 376th Fighter Squadrons) from its formation and training in 1943, through its participation in every major campaign fought by the 8th Air Force in 1944-45. More than a narrow unit history, Yellowjackets! places the experiences of the Group's personnel in perspective with the larger context of the war, and also presents the human side, speaking, at times, from the intensely personal standpoint of the pilots and personnel who took part in some of the most determined air battles of the Second World War.
Paul Cora's "Yellowjackets" is one of those must read books for any devotee of WWII aviation. It perfectly complements existing titles on the 361st Fighter Group such as Steve Gotts' "Little Friends", the Stryker Diary and Urban Drew's biography.
Perhaps what is most striking about the book is Paul's style of writing. I was able to read the book in less than 4 days, always finding it hard to put down. The author skillfully combines the basic historical facts and details with interviews with group members, combat reports and detailed research. This gives the reader not only a clear sense of what the group was doing and why but also it puts you in the cockpit of a P-51 or P-47 dogfighting with the enemy.
"Yellowjackets" also gives an excellent insight into then men who were the driving force behind the group's success such as Thomas Christian, Joe Kruzel and Roy Caviness to name but a few. Along the way if often fills in the historical blanks such as Thomas Christian's previous combat career flying P-39's.
facet of the book is the wonderful photograph collection that Paul has
amassed. The photos are skillfully used to compliment the text and the
author has unmasked a few previously unpublished gems such as the stunning
photograph of Colonel Thomas Christian's P-51B 'Lou III'. Also the
side-views at the end of the book are great and go along way with helping
with the accurate portrayal of the group's markings (compared to the
many side-views of a decade and more ago of the group's aircraft
appearing in shades of sky blue).
Overall I would thoroughly recommend the book not only for it its excellent narrative which gives a clear insight into a well-run 8th AF fighter Group in WWII but also for its wonderful illustrations which make the reader's experience even more vivid.
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