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Flying Buccaneers: The Illustrated Story of…
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Flying Buccaneers: The Illustrated Story of Kenney's Fifth Air Force

by Steve Birdsall

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Fascinating blend of history and anecdote, combining official accounts with the reminiscences of the veterans themselves.
A well written and well researched book that moved very quickly and was very interesting. It has many strengths, but two major flaws. As for the strengths, Birdsall published this book in 1977 and was able to interview many veterans of the Fifth Air Force, most of them pilots and commanders. General Kenney himself wrote the introduction to this book. The various squadron veterans’ groups at the time also assisted in compiling material for this book, which included many personal photographs. Birdsall’s writing is also a strength; he is well organized and focused. This is important because the Southwestern Pacific campaign was fast moving. Birdsall does not give us a dry campaign narrative, but writes on what it was like to fly the missions and includes many vignettes about the aces, and told by the air crews themselves. Additionally, Birdsall is able to effectively impart the significance of the Fifth Air Force’s contribution to MacArthur’s campaign. What I consider the two most significant flaws to an otherwise excellent history are first, the lack of maps. Birdsall includes only three maps in the entire book, which are woefully inadequate. The narrative necessarily includes many place names and I used the map book from the Dept. of the Army history of the Pacific War. For the general reader, maps are essential and the lack of maps in this profusely illustrated book will leave the reader somewhat lost. The second major flaw is a lack of an order of battle and table of organization and equipment for both Japanese and Allied forces. Birdsall refers to Japanese planes by their code names, but provides no illustrations, which required me to look them up. The same is somewhat true of allied aircraft. Also, when Birdsall talks about planes damaged or shot down, this has no meaning without knowing how both sides were organized. What could easily be a 5 star book is, in my opinion only 3 stars because of these flaws, which significantly affect the reading experience.
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 21, 2018 |
Good reading. Overview of the 5th air force in the south pacific. The types of missions were varied and long. A lot of pictures and drawings. ( )
  Whiskey3pa | Jan 21, 2016 |
Excellent! ( )
  B-17Dave | Nov 9, 2010 |
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