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    Default book THE BATTLE FOR HELL'S ISLAND by Stephen L. Moore

    When I picked this book up I flipped through it cursorily and anticipated a history of the Battle for Guadalcanal. Well, that's in there but it's really the history of the US carrier pilots who flew the SBD Dauntless in the Pacific from just before Pearl Harbor though 1942. Several things surprised me, first of all that the "scouting" squadrons of SBD's were actually used as fighters on "anti-torpedo plane" patrols while the "bombing" squadrons launched against the Japanese carriers. On prewar exercises they were pretty nimble against US TBD Devastators, but the Japanese Kates were a good deal more nimble. Despite that they racked up a lot of kills even on zeroes.

    I was shocked how many losses were accidents. Inexperienced new pilots were sent up on night navigation exercises in bad weather... There were some real vendettas over boor leadership. Some pilots got lost, lots had mechanical failures. There were cases where squadron mates circled guys that had ditched and were in life rafts and the positions relayed were "exact" but the surface vessels could not find them.

    The book covers portions of Coral Sea, Santa Cruz, Midway, various raids, and a good third of it relates to Guadalcanal. It's an exciting and informative read. Tables are included of the awards and fates of the pilots and rear gunners/radiomen. One of the best tributes given to the naval airmen and ground crews came from a Marine General who called them the best Marines in bell bottom trousers he had ever met. I highly recommend this book.
    Last edited by Griff Murphey; 02-13-2018 at 08:27.

  2. Default

    Thanks for the review Griff, sounds like a very good read.

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