no such thunder
as the deep-throated
roar of the mighty four-engined B-17's that
streamed across the skies
The long runways are
World War II. now, the men and
planes are gone. But out of the massive files of records, the debriefing reports, mission evaluations, tonnage
—and most men who —
of the this
from the memories Martin Caidin has created
dramatic and authoritative portrait of the
Of course the technical data is here comand authoritative—on bomb loadings, model changes, armaments, crew assignments. But more than that, Flying Forts recreates a vanished era and a great and gallant plane. A plane that could absorb three thousand enemy bullets, fly with no rudder, and complete its mission on two engines. A plane that American pilots flew at Pearl Harbor, Tunis, Midway, Palermo, Schweinfurt, Regensberg, Normandy, Berlin ... in thousands of missions and through hundreds of thousands of miles of flak-filled skies. A plane that proved itself in every combat theatre as the greatest heavy bomber of World War II. plete
a Hall of Fame for great airsurely occupy a place
planes, the B-17
of special honor.
pilots say, 'This
airplane you could trust"
Japanese Destroyer Captain, Tameichi Hara and Fred Saito with Roger Pineau $.75 Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, battles of the Pacific
the great naval
from the enemy point of view.
With 8 pages of photographs. (3rd
The Sea Wolves, Wolfgang Frank
Authentic, complete the story of in action in World War II. "Vivid!"
Panzer Leader, Heinz Guderian $.75 The classic account of German tanks in World War II by the commander of Hitler's Panzer Corps in Russia. Over 400 pages, abridged. (6th printing)
Stuka Pilot, Hans Ulrich Rudel $.75 Air war on the Russian front by Germany's most decorated pilot of dive bombers and veteran of the air battles at Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. (9th printing)
Kamikaze, Yasuo Kuwahara and Gordon T. Allred
Japanese pilot's own story of life in the suicide squadrons men trained to crash dive their bombladen planes onto the deck of a U. S. Navy carrier.
list of Ballantine war books or to order by mail, write to: Dept. CS, Ballantine Books, 36 West 20th St., New
For a complete
York, N.Y. 10003.
BALLANTINE BOOKS • NEW YORK An Intent Publisher
1968 by Martin Caidin
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 68-56433
March, 1969 Second Printing: February, 1970 First Printing:
Cover painting by Robert Schultz Printed in the United States of America
BALLANTTNE BOOKS, INC. 101 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.
flew one of the
BEGINNING Mission over Buka
Concept and Philosophy
"A Burst of Flame and
The Spreading of Wings
Before the Storm
184 207 226 242 259 265 274 285 299
The Weary Ones The Pacific: Phase II The Pacific: Phasing Out Europe: The Beginning The Queen On the Edge
Torch The Deadly Bombers
GERMANY Boom Town
The Long, Dark Winter
The Big League
Mission 65/Mission 69
The Bloody Road Graveyard Sky
376 392 407 434 454
OPEN LEDGER 28. Open Ledger Sources/References
an old saying that the military historian en20-20 hindsight. Studying past events with impersonal objectivity, he is able to peer through the eyes of a hundred or a thousand combatants of a single great conflict. He is afforded the unique attitudes of both sides and, painstakingly, as much as is possible after the dimis
joys the invaluable vantage of
of memory and the obliteration inevitably of certain reche reweaves the tapestry of what has gone before. Omissions most certainly there will be. Yet the task is immeasurably simpler than if the historian were required to fulfill his role during those moments when the events in issue were being enacted. History is the eagle's view and the perspective of the back room. The historian uses both to solve the mys-
teries of the past.
shortly after the turn of the century
wage war, they
took to the
and harassed the historian. Until the Great War of 1914-1918 fields of battle might be revisited and the paths of armies walked again. There were maps to consult and points of shredded geography to relearn what had trampled the earth underfoot. Even great battles at sea, with ponderous vessels chained to strategies long established, remained restricted within time and two-dimensional movement. air to
so the arena of aerial conflict. There,
winged chariots have fought a
duel that covered not simply thousands of square
miles, but tens of thousands of cubic miles.
only minutes after unbridled fury, the nature of the skies erased forever the scars of battle. 1
The only marker of the combat waged in the heavens is memory of the participants and the statistical hieroglyphics of the survivors. Never is there the opportunity to revisit the scenes where men and machines clashed. The debris and sputum of battle, the contrails and funereal pyres of greasy smoke, the shattered chunks and bits and pieces of metal, the searing lash of flame; gleaming empty shell cases and torn All parachutes, gutted behemoths and limb-flailing men. these vanish forever with the first sigh of the wind. There is the
no such thunder in history nor will ever be again, as filled the Europe during World War II. thunder from a stream of mighty bombers many hundreds of miles in length, ten thousand engines beating sonorously against an earth far below. And the cry, deep-throated and howling, of another three thousand engines—the fighters rising and swooping to do battle. Thunder upon thunder, explosions and racketing thousands of guns, a cacophonous rainfall of millions of spent bullets and cannon shells and debris and bombs. Then, the gentle sighing of wind. Silence. The air cleansed as it was before the approach of the metallic thunder. And yet, what was slashed for those moments in the skies turned crimson red and black and sun gleaming off silvery wings, remains. It remains in memory, and it remains in what was committed of that memory to paper. The statistics, of course; the numbers of the combatants. How many bombers, how many fighters, how many bombs and gallons of fuel and engines and shells and rockets and lives and all the other statistical structure-work of the historical ledger. There are so many great airfields to count, so many runways from which the giants trundled faster and faster, finally to grasp precariously with wide wings and throbbing engines the first shuddering moments of flight. There are so many numbered and colored flares for which men must watch, there are so many radio beacons on which to home; there are specific points over the earth, measured in geographical location, height, speed, and time, where the giants assemble, from where they wheel in stately formation and then, performing slavishly to the hands of the clock, march off through the heavens to meet the enemy who also is a prisoner of the statistical
miasma of modern war. Oh,
there are the numbers,
lists of numbers; charts, graphs, tally sheets. Thick reams of them. But they're not enough. Air war is above all the story of men. As they view what transpires, from an individual, yet interrelated and always multifaceted approach, it is the story of men. And it is the story of the machines in which they flew to contest the enemy. This is the story of one such machine, the airplane that became famed the world over as, simply, the Queen. This airplane the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was invested by the men who flew her, and by those who fought against her, with a personality and a status afforded few ma-
chines with wings. If there
planes then unquestionably
a Hall of
of great air-
will find the
B-17; indeed, even in that hallowed final resting place the B-
17 would occupy a niche of especial honor. What imparts greatness to an aircraft? As swiftly as that question is put to words there will spring up a host of re-
bear the same message; they repeat
and crewmen, the same reactions.
reasons for embracing fondly the memories of the
not share this repetition. Different
which they flew off to war. But always, through the broad spectrum of the explanations and the answers, a single
thread of continuity begins to emerge. There to
a single factor
pilot of the
B-17 would say: "This was an airplane you
think of a machine minus the vices that in
she will do and she will not spring on you, at the
worst possible moments of flight, a vicious tic that can tear control from the hands of
The B-17 was a military airplane, a long-range heavy bomber. As such it was created
need and to perform a...