Academic journal article Military Review

Hell's Angels: The True Story of the 303rd Bomb Group in World War II

Academic journal article Military Review

Hell's Angels: The True Story of the 303rd Bomb Group in World War II

Article excerpt

HELL'S ANGELS: The True Story of the 303rd

Bomb Group in World War II

Jay A. Stout, Berkley Publishing Group, New York, 2015, 464 pages

For a reading public used to hearing a decade's worth of stories about MRAPs (mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles), convoy duty, and desert supply routes, a story about B-17 bomber runs over Nazi Germany might at first seem rather out of date; and yet, Jay Stout draws out a timeless story from the air war over Europe. It is one that highlights the universal themes of modern warfare: young men traveling immense distances in heavily armored machines, the loneliness of desert spaces, the suddenness of death, and the loss of one's closest companions.

Stout, an experienced combat pilot and accomplished author, delves into the history of the 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), one of the most storied units among the Allied bomber commands during the Allied air offensive. He uses a balanced mixture of first-person accounts and official military records, providing an account that has a satisfying breadth and depth to it. The story begins with the challenges the United States faced in putting together an air force--when only working with the rawest of recruits and a minimum of equipment. Overcoming delays and politics, the unit grew into its own and eventually made its way to Molesworth in England to begin the U.S. air campaign.

At that point, the narrative takes on its most fascinating dimensions. Stout weaves together the recollections of scores of pilots, enlisted men, and support crews into a multifaceted recounting of the daily life on the base and in the air. …

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