Saturday, January 25, 2014

eBook Review: An Ace of the Eighth

Norman J. 'Bud' Fortier, An Ace of the Eighth

Product Details 

  • File Size: 1207 KB
  • Print Length: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; Reissue edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDHT8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Price: $5.99
1. Short review: (Amazon rating: 1 out of 5 stars -- It's DRM'd.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: The information I've not seen elsewhere. 
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Should be a roller coaster, but it is a walk in the park.
     If you are a hardcore air combat history fan, it is worth the money. Otherwise, buy a different book.

2.2. What I did not like: DRM. Any book that is DRM'd gets one star from me.
     As for the contents: 
     The lack of combat details. What details there are apply to strafing ground targets and pilot scheduling. Often the squadron was grounded by weather. Much of the book is taken up with not flying because of weather, hazardous flying in weather, and operational losses due to weather. Fortier did not write as much about himself or his actions as he did about his squadron mates. 
     The cover. The cover gives the reader the impression that this is a book about P-47 Jugs. It is not. It is a Mustang book.
     The cover did not come with my Kindle file. The cover I got is an ugly generic cover. 

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Hardcore air combat history fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read? Sure, if they are hardcore air combat history fans.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? No.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell.

     None. This is a memoir of a P-51 Mustang pilot in WW2. Fortier wrote about training, transport to England, escorting bombers, fighting gaggles of Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs, killing Me-262s on their final approach, 7½ hour escort missions (that's a job), strafing Luftwaffe airfields deep in Germany, engine failures and landing at forward bases, trying to find an airfield when weather rolled in, other pilots ditching in the Channel and being picked up, and other pilots ditching in the North Sea and disappearing. That is most of what I expected. I also expected that Fortier would detail his own aerial combats, but I did not get that.

 2.7. Other:

     I rate the content of this book -- 3 stars; that is, It's okay. I learned that Mustangs flew looong escort missions and were based in England the entire war, that Jugs flew air-to-ground missions from forward bases, that air-to-air losses were dwarfed by losses in air-to-ground missions, that the Luftwaffe managed to put planes in the air until the end but was overwhelmed by the hundreds of American fighters that invested German skies every day. I learned that ditching in the English Channel was an inconvenience but ditching in the North Sea was a death sentence. Good stuff but not the reason I began the book.
     When you write a memoir, write about yourself, not the guy next to you. Fortier thought he was modest by writing about his squadron mates instead of himself, but he was just boring. You can't tell an adventure that someone else owns with the intensity and immediacy of an adventure that you own.
     Already I have forgotten much of the book. Some Amazon reviewers wrote that Fortier began flying escort with P-47s. I do not remember that. To me, this is a Mustang book.
     One thing that stands out in my mind is that the P-51B/C razorback model carried four guns. The wing was so narrow on the B/C model that the guns were mounted at an angle. This caused jams. The wing camber was increased on the bubble canopy D model so the guns could be mounted upright and two more guns were added. (The B/C models were identical. The B or C identified the factory. P-51Bs were built in Inglewood, California. P-51Cs were built in Dallas, Texas.)

Addendum: I searched the book, and, sure enough, Fortier did fly Jugs. But the cover picture is wrong for Fortier. By D-Day, he was flying Mustangs. (Those stripes on the Jugs in the picture are invasion stripes that were painted on for D-Day ops.)


2.8. Links: Norman J. 'Bud' Fortier

2.9. Buy the book: An Ace of the Eighth

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