Review on book Thunderbolts Triumphant. Chris is of the age of the grandsons/-doughters of the men who flew the Thunderbolt over wartime Europa, but lucky enough to have had the opportunity to interview about twenty of the survivors of the 362nd. He also got in contact with the Arbeitsgruppe Vermissten- forschung from postwar Germany what explains the mentioning of many German opponents during the encounters with the Luftwaffe.
It looks like these interviews contain foremost the war dairies of the interviewed. It’s therefore mostly factual reports and only seldom personal opinions and feelings of the participants of that episode. The book starts with the activation of this Fighter Group at march 1th, 1943 and ends at august 1th, 1946 with it’s deactivation of the USAAF. During that period the 362nd lost 70 pilots and many more planes.
By reading this book one gets an accurate insight in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, also called “the Jug”. This very sturdy plane with it’s air cooled radial engine proofed itself first and foremost useful as a fighter bomber, whilst the more agile but vulnerable P-51 Mustang became the primary pure fighter of the USAAF over Europe. This caused sometimes jealousy amongst the Thunderbolt pilots, who had to bear the brunt of low flying in heavy Flak of all calibres.
The operational period of the 362nd is well documented in this book. It contains literally a day to day report of it’s events. The amount of cars, tanks, trains and Luftwaffe planes destroyed on the ground is up to the bizarre; quite unbelievable that the German war machine was capable to resupply it’s troops up to the bitter end of the war. It was not so much the material losses as no longer being able to replace experienced personel which eroded the German fighting power.
The book contains a wealth of photographs (150 black and white photos, 24 color profiles) and illustrations. Model builders are well served with accurate drawings and often also the story behind the Thunderbolts. In short: a well documented war record of the 362nd Fighter Group. But no narrative of the more intimate feelings of it’s Group members.