In Hostile Skies: An American B-24 Pilot in World War II

In Hostile Skies: An American B-24 Pilot in World War II

In Hostile Skies: An American B-24 Pilot in World War II

In Hostile Skies: An American B-24 Pilot in World War II


James "Jim" Davis lived what he considered "an impossible dream" as he piloted a B-24, as part of the 8th Air Force, on nearly thirty missions in the European Theatre during World War II. In this memoir, Davis offers heart-wrenching detail concerning the difficulties of qualifying for the U.S. Army Air Forces pilot program, the strenuous nature of the pilot training program, the anxiety caused by a wartime marriage, and the dangers of flying combat missions over Nazi Germany. Few, if any, other memoirs provide the genuineness and honesty of his story. From his struggles to become a pilot, to seeing death up close on his first mission, to his expected deployment to the Pacific Theatre in the fall of 1945, Davis takes the reader through a fast-paced and exciting narrative adventure.

Davis and his crew flew support missions for Operations Cobra and Market Garden and numerous bombing missions over occupied Europe in the summer and fall of 1944. He piloted his B-24 on missions over twenty German cities, including Cologne, Hamburg, Metz, and Munich, and attacked enemy airfields, airplane factories, railroad marshalling yards, ship yards, oil refineries, and chemical plants. While he and his crew survived without serious injuries, they witnessed the destruction of many of their friends' planes and experienced serious damage to their own plane on several occasions. Readers of his memoir will come away with a much greater appreciation for the difficulties and dangers of the air war in World War II.

David Snead happened upon the memoir and its author during his time at Texas Tech University. He was immediately hooked and began the process of preparing it for publication. Snead met with Davis on several occasions, examined his military records, researched in detail at the National Archives, and investigated numerous published sources in order to corroborate the account and add explanatory notes for context.


In the spring of 2002 I was an assistant professor of history at Texas Tech University, where I taught a variety of courses in modern U.S. military and diplomatic history. One day a visitor, Jay Wischkaemper, stopped by my door and asked if he could talk to me. It seemed a little strange since Jay had never been in any of my classes and was older than most of my students. It turns out that Jay is a financial adviser and had been working with one of my close colleagues, Jorge Iber. Jay mentioned to Jorge that he had stumbled across a World War II memoir of a U.S. B-24 bomber pilot and wondered if he knew of anyone who could evaluate it for possible publication. Jorge sent him to my office, and a new adventure was added to my life.

Jay quickly explained that James “Jim” Davis, who lives in Midland, Texas, had written the memoir to describe his experiences flying with the Eighth Air Force in World War II. By coincidence, Jay and Jim both had season tickets for the Texas Tech Lady Raiders’ basketball games and had seats next to each other. After striking up some general conversations, Jim mentioned that he had flown a B-24 in the war. Jay, being an airplane buff, was enthralled. Eventually, Jim mentioned his memoir, and Jay asked if he could read it.

When Jay told me about the memoir, I was immediately intrigued. I was most interested in reading a veteran’s story that with . . .

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