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P-38 Lightning Aces of the 82nd Fighter Group

P-38 Lightning Aces of the 82nd Fighter Group Book Review

By Rachel E. Veres

Date of Review November 2012 Title P-38 Lightning Aces of the 82nd Fighter Group
Author Steve Blake Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2012 ISBN 9781849087438
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


Established March 1942, the 82nd Fighter Group's (FG) [formerly designated as a Pursuit Group] initial cadre comprised newly graduated staff sergeant pilots – enlisted men, not officers!  Shortly afterwards, the novice aviators learned to fly the USAAF's "hottest" new pursuit plane – the P-38 Lightning.  And the 82nd FG went on to claim 548 enemy aircraft destroyed – second only to the 475th FG's 553 kills.

Author Steve Blake recounts the exploits of one of the most successful USAAF fighter groups during WWII.  He examines the unit's history through the eyes of 82nd pilots, beginning with its first ace – Lt. William "Dixie" Sloan.  Sloan claimed the first 82nd FG North African victory in his top-scoring P-38 – Snooks IV.

Absorbing accounts abound.  While shepherding Martin B-26s on an anti-shipping mission, for instance, two-dozen enemy aircraft attacked the P-38 escort.  Some Bf-109s attempted to break through to the bombers, but failed.  P-38 pilots claimed seven destroyed, one probable, and two damaged adversary aircraft.  Every P-38 and B-26 survived.

Chris Davey's color profiles and nose scrap views of 82nd FG P-38s – including Snooks IV, Sloan's famous mount – should certainly inspire modeling projects.  Archival photos further enhance the first-hand accounts – and give glimpses into the lives of these brave men.

Highly recommended reading.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!