Air-To-Ground Battle For Italy by Michael C. McCarthy

Air-To-Ground Battle For Italy by Michael C. McCarthy
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Overview: The story of a young fighter pilot from basic training through the end of the war in Europe, this short memoir is a welcome addition to the literature of World War II aviation. It is noteworthy for a number of reasons. It illuminates the world of tactical aviation, which has taken a backseat to stories of strategic bombing and air superiority combat. It takes place in a theater of war often considered a backwater when compared to the events in Western Europe or the Central Pacific. Perhaps most importantly, it combines the immediacy of contemporary impressions with the reflections possible after a long and distinguished Air Force career.

Michael C. McCarthy was part of the first wave of young Americans who joined up in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. His peer group, graduates of aviation cadet Class 43-A, arrived at the North African front in the spring of 1943 as part of an enormous bow wave of American human and industrial mobilization. His account of flight training is one of the best available anywhere and captures-in microcosm-the huge undertaking required to produce thousands of highly trained combat crews for the Allied war effort. McCarthy and his comrades joined the veterans of the prewar Army Air Corps who had held the line from El Alamein through the desperate battles around Kasserine Pass. McCarthy spent his entire war with the 57th Fighter Group, first flying the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and later the powerful Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

His battlefield was not in the stratosphere over the Third Reich, escorting the massed bomber formations of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. His war began with a ferry flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cairo; to Cape Bon, Tunisia, after the Axis defeat in North Africa; through the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and the long slog up the Italian peninsula in 1943-1944 including landings at Salerno, Anzio, and the battles around Monte Cassino, with a brief detour in support of the invasion of southern France.

While his memoir speaks of plenty of air combat with the Messerschmitt Bf 109s and Focke-Wulf Fw 190s of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force, the greatest enemy McCarthy and his comrades faced was German antiaircraft fire. Their unglamorous business was conducting interdiction and close air support, part of a lengthy and costly combined-arms effort to leverage the Germans out of their powerful defensive positions on the Italian peninsula.
Genre: Non-Fiction > History

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