The 325th Fighter Group was one of the most distinguished USAAF fighter groups of World War II. Flying three different aircraft during its lifetime, the Group won two DUCs. Ranked as the second-deadliest Air Force MTO fighter group, the Checkertail Clain claimed 537 air kills, Almost half of that total was credited to just 27 pilots. Tom Ivie relates the exploits of the ACES OF THE 325TH FIGHTER GROUP in this 2013 Osprey release.
Checkertail Clan ops fell into three distinct stages. The Group first flew P-40s from April to September 1943, claiming 135 kills. Early Group aces included Frank Collins, 'Zack' Taylor, Walt Walker and Bob Baseler. Converting to the Thunderbolt, the Group flew P-47s until May 1944, claiming 153 more kills. Among the Checkertail pilots making ace in the Jug were Henschel Green, Gene Emmons, Bill Rynne and Bob Barkey. The Group then flew P-51s till war's end. Among the Mustang-era aces were Art Fiedler, Wayne Lowry, Ben Emmert, Bill Aron, Gordon McDonald and Cullen Hofffman. While some of the aces scored all their kills in just one of those aircraft, other long-serving pilots ran up scores in all three aircraft. The Checkertail Clan's top ace, 'Herky' Green, for example, had three kills in P-40s, ten in P-47s and five in P-51s.
Ivie does a good job of relating the combat exploits of the Group's aces against a backdrop of the 325th's combat career. He includes many combat reports and reminiscences from the pilots that put the reader right in the cockpit. Aside from one instance however, he doesn't compare American claims against actual Axis losses. The book would have been more valuable had Ivie utilized German and Italian records to present a more accurate account.
The many photographs included in the book are a big plus as is Chris Davey's marvelous color side-profiles that present the Group's Warhawks, Thunderbolts and Mustangs in all their Checkertail Clan finery.
ACES OF THE 325TH FIGHTER GROUP is a well-done, exciting addition to Osprey's long-running AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES series, this being #117. Fans of fighter combat will want to pick up a copy. Recommended.