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Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16

Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16 [Kindle Edition]

Dan Hampton

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Product Description

Product Description

The New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot and retired USAF F-16 legend Dan Hampton offers the first comprehensive popular history of combat aviation—a unique, entertaining, and action-packed look at the aces of the air and their machines, from the trailblazing aviators of World War I to today’s technologically expert warriors flying supersonic jets.

One of the most decorated fighter pilots in history, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dan Hampton goes back 100 years to tell the extraordinary stories of the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend. Told in his acclaimed high-octane style, Lords of the Sky is a fresh and exhilarating look at the development of aviation for history and military buffs alike.

From the Back Cover

By the USAF F-16 legend behind the bestselling memoir Viper Pilot, this is the first comprehensive history of fighter pilots and air combat—a unique, riveting look at the aces of the sky, their machines, their most daring missions, and the epic conflicts they shaped, from the trailblazing aviators of World War I to today's supersonic jets

Lords of the Sky is a thrilling history of the fighter pilot, masterfully written by one of the most decorated aviators in American history. A twenty-year USAF veteran who flew more than 150 combat missions and received four Distinguished Flying Crosses, Lt. Colonel Dan Hampton draws on his singular firsthand knowledge, as well as groundbreaking research in aviation archives and rare personal interviews with little-known heroes, including veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In a seamless, sweeping narrative, Lords of the Sky tells the extraordinary stories behind the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend.

In the Great War, aces such as Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"), Eddie Rickenbacker, and Roland Garros faced horrific survival rates and became romantic heroes. The Second World War saw the RAF locked in a struggle for the fate of civilization during the Battle of Britain; on the Eastern Front, the German Luftwaffe and Soviet Air Force grappled in some of the fiercest and bloodiest air battles in history. In the Pacific, Japanese pilots terrorized Asia, culminating in their attack on Pearl Harbor. American flyboys quickly became instrumental to the Allies' ultimate victory, ravaging the enemy's navy, providing life-saving air support for ground troops, escorting bombers, and dogfighting with Japanese Zeros and Nazi Messerschmitts. During the Cold War, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam featured the dawn of the jet age, in which American pilots battled Soviet-made MiGs and increasingly sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry. Hampton then draws on his own experience as an F-16 pilot who fought in the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq to bring to life the dangers and demands of today's modern fighter pilot.

Here are the stories behind history's most iconic aircraft and the aviators who piloted them: from the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane to the Mitsubishi Zero, Supermarine Spitfire, Nazi Bf 109, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Hellcat, F-4 Phantom, F-105 Thunderchief, F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 SuperHornet, and beyond. Here, too, are the Lafayette Escadrille, Flying Tigers, RAF Eagles, Wild Weasels, and other legendary units. Throughout this definitive history, Hampton clarifies the astonishing debt we owe to these daring Lords of the Sky who have ruled the air for more than a century.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10802 KB
  • Print Length: 645 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062262017
  • Publisher: William Morrow (24 Jun 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DB39Y8M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,886 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive and action-packed -- gives a new appreciation for fighter pilots! 24 Jun 2014
By Jack Frost East - Published on
Lords of the Sky covers 100 years of aviation history at a thrilling pace. Each chapter starts with a gripping, well-chosen scene (chapter 1 begins with Roland Garros battling German Albatrosses in his Morane Saulnier equipped with jerry-rigged Hotchkiss machine guns; chapter 11 sees the legendary Robin Olds in his P-51 in 1944; and so on). Hampton does a great job of placing the combat episode (the exciting part) in the larger context of history, politics, and technological innovation. Overall a great read and very highly recommended.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating historical book! 24 Jun 2014
By A. Carter - Published on
I only bought this book, because I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Hampton's first book, Viper Pilot. Hampton, once again, captures his audience's attention in the first chapter alone with the birth of fighter aviation in the form of a French pilot, Roland Garros. In my opinion, all history books should be written from a holistic and personal approach, so we can gain a better understanding of the true stories encountered. I am confident that Hampton will continue to arouse my emotions and deepen my appreciation and respect for the all of the heroes in our sky.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The now definitive account of the first century of military aviation and the fighter pilot 1 July 2014
By psteeves - Published on
Dan Hampton, with his autobiographical Viper Pilot, has already joined the ranks of the several fighter pilots in history who have been able to describe to the world the uniquely thrilling experiences of a fighter pilot in combat. The genre of fighter pilots, those warriors in the tradition of medieval knights whose weapons happen to involve the airplane, has existed now for one full century. World War I started one hundred years ago this month (June, 1914). The history of fighter pilots and air combat begs to be properly set down. And there must be only a few fortunate persons who (1) have experienced first-hand the terrors and thrills of aerial combat, (2) have lived to tell the tale, obviously, and (3) have the literary skills to create an accurate, readable and engaging book. If you add a fourth criterion that the person should be active at the completion of the first hundred years, then the number of people who could write this book is extremely small.
Indeed, that number might be only one. Dan Hampton has ambitiously produced the most comprehensive, authoritative account of the first century of military aviation and specifically the role of the principal military aviation combatant: the fighter pilot. His latest book, Lords of the Sky, is an unusually well researched account of the major conflicts of the entire one hundred years of fighter pilots and air combat, and it immediately becomes the definitive such book now in existence. It should promptly find its place in the libraries of every operational fighter and LIFT squadron, every fledging or wannabe fighter pilot, even the Army, Navy and Air war colleges. FNG and old-timer Ace-of-the-Base alike will want to be conversant with virtually everything in this book. There really is no other such book. It covers the major conflicts including the political background of each war as it relates to aviation, and then the technological developments during the conflicts. It describes the strategic factors of the conflicts related to aviation (for example, the evolution of the dictum that the bomber will always get through) and it also includes frequent discussions of tactics. Hampton cleverly weaves gripping narratives into the story from time to time as he gives the reader the fundamentals of the aviation-relevant history of the major conflicts—conflicts that increasingly utilized, and ultimately proved to be critically dependent upon, air forces.
I was particularly pleased to see him reference Rippon and Manuel’s World War I study of the psychology of fighter pilots, both in the text and then again in the epilogue. I don’t recall coming across this study in my initial training as a flight surgeon, but it had been rediscovered by the 1990’s. Its accuracy was confirmed in my experience in the Vietnam War, and it was reassuring to see it re-confirmed by Hampton’s survey in connection with the production of Lords of the Sky. I also had the pleasure of seeing it recently still in effect at Shaw AFB in SC where the 77th FS is the current Home of the Wild Weasels. The latest crop of fighter pilots seemed every bit the stereotype, in their dedication to duty, their use of the highest technology, and their still having those high spirits that need occasional indulging.
It is a serious question whether the fighter pilot as a unique breed of cat will prove to be an anachronism in future battlefields where already drones seem to dominate and the enemy combatants are terrorists, not competing aviators. However, I believe we must take care not to make the “never again” kind of error that Hampton mentions (“no more guns on fighters, it’s all missiles now, son!”). An all-out war that would necessitate having air supremacy can never be ruled out in the future. If it occurs (God forbid!), the highly skilled, aggressive, intelligent, flexible, and on-scene fighter pilot—the lord of the sky—will be as mandatory as ever. Hampton’s new book Lords of the Sky should be the first one in his/her e-reader. Better yet, make it a hard-copy on the bookshelf; this one is definitely a keeper.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too bad it was poorly edited... 17 Aug 2014
By D. Levitt - Published on
Ever wonder what a good historical nonfiction book would be like if it was shoddily edited and rushed into publication? Well, Dan Hampton's book "Lords of the Sky" fits the mold to a T. I've read other critical reviews that call several omissions and the like into question, but I argue that those omissions are largely irrelevant due to length concerns and subjectivity. In other words, if Mr. Hampton were to have not omitted several key aircraft and pilots (all of whom mentioned by other critics of this book), the book would be several thousand pages in length.

This book isn't trashy or poor by any means. It does give a rather quick overview of the world as it evolved through the eyes of aviators from the first World War through the Fighting Falcon. It's written in a nice combination of anecdotal and historical parable that makes it fairly easy to read. Mr. Hampton definitely has a knack for storytelling, that's for sure. His writing mannerisms, however, make me think of person speaking to me about this topic rather than simply writing the information down for the reader to disseminate at his or her own methodology. For that, I'm glad I "read" this book via the audiobook rather than the paper copy of the book. I'm not so sure that this book reads as well as it is spoken... even with the small issues with the spoken version (I'll get to that in a bit).

All in all, I cannot fault Dan Hampton for its most tragic flaw: Redundancy to the extreme. Countless times Hampton repeats himself through cliche. "And the World would never be the same again." was a common occurrence. Same thing early in the book with the birth of the fighter and fighter pilot. Yes, Mr. Hampton wrote the words and it was published, but a good editor would have caught the repetition in their editing process and sent it back with the repetitions either marked for revision or eliminated entirely.

I listened to the audiobook version of this title and John Pruden (who narrated it) had a few issues with pronunciation at several points and it makes me wonder if there weren't some typos in the text. For example, during World War II, the Japanese operated 6 major carriers: The Akagi, the Soryu, the Kaga, the Hiryu, the Shuikaku, and the Zuikaku. There were others, no doubt, but these carriers were the major "players" during the conflict. However, imagine my surprise when I heard the last two, Shuikaku (pronounced Shoowee-kaw-koo) pronounced "Shoowee-kawk" and Zuikaku (pronounced Zoowee-kaw-koo) pronounced Zoowee-kawk! Also, I've never heard the United States Air Forced called "Yousaf" like you just pronounce the acronym for the U.S. Air Force as a word (USAF). My friends both of retired officer and retired enlisted neglected to ever refer to the US Air Force as Yoosaf. This, however, is relatively minor.

All in all, this book serves as a very good introduction to the history of military fighter aviation, but it should not be confused as being an authority on the matter despite Dan Hampton's impressive resume. It's a lot like a somewhat fleshed out outline of the historical timeline on the topic and is certainly great for those who want to learn a little bit more about this topic. However, for those of us who are rankled by oversimplification due to the limitations of length, this book will be aggravating in spots.

However, as for historical fact, I'd stick to reading autobiographies of fighter pilots (Robin Olds' book is fantastic) or if I want an overview of what is going on during World War II, I'd consult Stephen Ambrose or even Norman Toll's World War II: A Short History.
If you like the historical storytelling aspect of this book, I'd recommend the Shaara's Jeff and Michael. Jeff has done books on World War I and World War II among other things.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read out of sequence and enjoy equally well 21 Aug 2014
By Eric R. Hursh - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written, concise and accurate historical perspective which well enhances the story line of plane, pilot & tactics. The book flows very well chronologically, but a reader can pick up specific chapters of interest, read out of sequence and enjoy equally well. As the author gets to later chapters you see his expertise as a pilot lace into the stories. Puts an exclamation point on the underlying theme that pilots of any era were/are a unique blend of character, courage, and skill.
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