Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler's War Machine

Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler's War Machine

Language: English

Pages: 338

ISBN: 1621572080

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


November 1943—May 1945—The U.S. Army Air Forces waged an unprecedentedly dogged and violent campaign against Hitler’s vital oil production and industrial plants on the Third Reich’s southern flank. Flying from southern Italy, far from the limelight enjoyed by the Eighth Air Force in England, the Fifteenth Air Force engaged in high-risk missions spanning most of the European continent. The story of the Fifteenth Air Force deserves a prideful place in the annals of American gallantry.

In his new book, Forgotten Fifteenth: The Daring Airmen Who Crippled Hitler’s War Machine, Tillman brings into focus a seldom-seen multinational cast of characters, including pilots from Axis nations Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria and many more remarkable individuals. They were the first generation of fliers—few of them professionals—to conduct a strategic bombing campaign against a major industrial nation. They suffered steady attrition and occasionally spectacular losses. In so doing, they contributed to the end of the most destructive war in history.

Forgotten Fifteenth is the first-ever detailed account of the Fifteenth Air Force in World War II and the brave men that the history books have abandoned until now. Tillman proves this book is a must-read for military history enthusiasts, veterans, and current servicemen.

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eleven hundred B-17 crew casualties in 1944. The results were surprising. Ball turret gunners, exposed to the world while hanging beneath the aircraft, represented less than 6 percent of all aircrewmen killed or wounded. Curled up in their cramped cocoon (forty-four inches in diameter), sitting on steel behind two-inch laminated glass, they were well protected. Especially vulnerable were bombardiers (17.6 percent of casualties) and navigators (12.2 percent), who rode in the nose, most exposed

General Nathan F. Twining. “General Jimmy” was headed for England to replace Ira Eaker as commander of the Eighth Air Force. Eaker was taking over the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, a position he would retain almost until V-E Day. Doolittle, who had had a rocky start with the commander of the European Theater, later wrote, “I was pleased that I had finally sold myself to Ike.”1 TWINING Forty-six-year-old Nathan F. Twining, whose family had served its country since before the Revolution, had

Following Twelfth Air Force Mitchells and Marauders, one wing each of B-17s and 24s trailed over the pockmarked battlefield. The mission was a fiasco. Loose formations, incorrect altitude, and an inexperienced lead bombardier resulted in more damage from friendly fire. This time, U.S. casualties were few, though a British general’s trailer and mess tent were ruined. Personally embarrassed, Eaker fired off a reprimand to Twining. He ordered that Twining or a staff member be present next time

Fifteenth—whitewashed buildings set among olive groves, with recreational outlets for basketball, volleyball, and horseshoes. But Rush paid close attention to business. In May his groups put as much as 52 percent of their ordnance within the desired thousand-foot circle of the aim point. Rush’s success was part technical, part psychological. Under the 376th Group’s former commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Warren, the wing staff streamlined procedures for takeoff and rendezvous, producing

mission. Number three engine, the right inboard, abruptly quit with zero fuel pressure. Then number two, on the left side, also quit. A mile from the runway and nearly out of fuel, McQuaid and copilot Robert Nelson feathered the windmilling propellers, pulled out of formation, and began dealing with a rare crisis. McQuaid called over the intercom, “Crew to crash positions!” Then he keyed his mike and called in to the base, “Hiccup Tower, this is 665, emergency landing! I’m out of gas!

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