“US Marine Corps Fighter Squadrons of World War II” by Barrett Tillman

Nearly 200 illustrations of squadron logos and of fighter planes embellish Tillman’s book on the famous fighter squadrons of the United States Marine Corps during the Second World War. Most of their fighting was against the Japanese in the Pacific. The Pacific War, it is said, was the largest naval conflict in history. Names like Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima have passed into history as have the Battles for Midway, the Coral Sea and Guam.  Likewise, some of the US Marine Corps fighter pilots have become legends: Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Lt Col Harold “Indian Joe” Bauer,  Capt Joseph J. Foss, Major John L. Smith, and Capt Marion E. Carl, but to name a few.

The author, Barrett Tillman, is one of the most prolific writers about the battles of the Second World War. This book too carries the Tillman touch with meticulous research, detailed notes and explanations of what actually happened when the Americans entered a War which was virtually forced on them following the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941.  Tillman’s “US Marine Corps Fighter Squadrons of World War II”  published by Osprey Publishing makes for extremely interesting reading.

Starting with the Brewster F2A Buffalo, Tillman describes the pros and cons of every fighter aircraft used by the Marine Corps in those hard fought battles. During the World War II, 50 fighter squadrons of the Marine Corps took part outside the continental United States and they used a wide variety of aircraft, evolving over time to engineer advanced improvements which made them more effective fighting machines. The Vought F4U Corsair, and the Grumann F6F Hellcat became synonymous with the fighter aces of the Marine Corps.

As often happens in wars, claims of aircraft destroyed are often wildly exaggerated by all combatants. Tillman provides balanced figures to give perspective to the dog fights and how the fighter squadrons of the US Marine Corps played a huge role in winning the Pacific War for the Allies. Starting with Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 and going all the way till the final destruction of the Japanese in July 1945, Tillman covers the stories with the right blend of the human element, as typified by the lives of the pilots, and the military hardware which undoubtedly led to the final outcome.

Replete with data which will interest even the average reader, Tillman’s book is yet another in his long list of accounts of the Second World War.

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