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Five Down, No Glory: Frank G. Tinker,…
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Five Down, No Glory: Frank G. Tinker, Mercenary Ace in the Spanish Civil…

by Richard K. Smith

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Five Down No Glory is a well written, fast paced, biography of the American mercenary, Frank Tinker and his career as a fighter pilot for Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The world of combat aviation in 1936 was much closer to World War I than what it became in World War II and the Civil War in Spain bore witness to the shift from the former to the latter. Tinker lived this transition and the authors provide vivid descriptions of Tinkers adjustments to the changes in planes and tactics. At the same time this narriative gives the reader a clear understanding of the state of aerial combat techniques on the eve of the Second World War. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in aviation history and aerial combat in the period between World War's I and II. For a sample of the style and pace of the writing see the quotation in the Common Knowledge section of this book listing. ( )
  alco261 | Oct 2, 2012 |
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The young man slouched comfortably in the mohair cushions of the French train compartment, his cheek pressed agains the window's cool glass.
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While Ukhov's pilots ate a hurried breakfast on 11 June 1937 , the sun remained hidden behind the distant Sierra de Altomira, but the eastern sky had begun to pale. They stepped into the Calle de Cervantes, boarded a bus, and drove through empty streets to the airfield where mechanics were readying their airplanes. The cool of the morning felt good; the stillness at the airfield seemed unreal. Then the whine of an engine being started shattered the air, the hard coughs of its ignition followed by the throaty roar of nine exhausts pulsing with the labors of hardworking pistons and valves. Another engine started,and another, and within a few minutes the air was filled with the angry sounds of a dozen engines being run up for magneto checks. As if the engines orchestrated the day, the sun appeared out of the low eastern haze, and as dawn became daylight, Valentin Ukhov led his flock of fighters bumping through the grass to the downwind end of the field where each in its turn roared off into the rising sun. Ukhov circled Alcala until he had gathered a half-dozen of his airplanes around him and then turned his formation east for Liria, a small town about twelve miles northwest of Valencia on the Mediterranean. Liria, 165 away, was a fuel stop where they would rendezvous with another Russian fighter squadron befor flying to the front in Aragon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 161251054X, Hardcover)

Frank G. Tinker, Jr. was the top American ace flying under contract with the Spanish Republican Air Force in the Spanish Civil War. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Class of 1933, he went into combat with Soviet airmen during the war. Through sheer perseverance, he rose from a teenage enlisted seaman, through the U.S. Naval Academy, to the officer's wardroom then pressed on to claim the wings of a naval aviator and to become a top-flight fighter pilot and a published author. Tinker possessed extraordinary people skills skills that allowed him to move with relative ease among common seamen, naval officers, foreign combat pilots, left-wing literati in Madrid and Paris, and the rural folk of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, who embraced him as one of their own. While in Spain, Tinker socialized with Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Robert Hale Merriman, the leader of the American Volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade and Milton Wolff, Merriman's successor, who led the 15th International Brigade during the Battle of the Ebro.

This first in-depth biography of Tinker covers his experience in combat, culminating with his commanding a Soviet squadron and terminating his contract with the government of Spain. Tinker would become the top American ace during the Spanish Civil War after downing eight enemy airplanes in combat. On returning to the United States, he wrote a memoir about fighting for Republican Spain and in June 1939 died under mysterious circumstances in Little Rock, Arkansas. The authors, well-known aviation historians, also offer a rare discussion of the aerial tactics introduced in the Spanish Civil War that became standard procedures in World War II and firmly establish Tinker's aviation feats for the historical record.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:58 -0400)

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