October 21 , 2009

The Jolly Rogers


THE JOLLY ROGERS: The Story of Tom Blackburn and NavyFighting Squadron VF-17 by Tom Blackburn with Eric Hammel = The Jolly Rogers is the story of one of the U.S. Navys foremost World War II fighter squadrons, VF-17, and its charismatic commander, Tom Blackburn. In his action-packed war memoir and unit history, Blackburn describes VF-17sintense campaign against the Japanese over the northern Solomon Islands and Rabaul in late 1943 and early 1944. Blackburn provides a rich account of how he shaped a crew of over-eager hotshots into one of the highest scoring fighter squadrons of World War II. In only seventy-six days of combat, Blackburns Jolly Rogers knocked down 154 enemy warplanes, and Blackburn himself emerged as one of VF-17s leading aces with eleven kills to his credit. Blackburn explains the methods he used and example he set to shape and wield VF-17 before and during its South Pacific combat tour. Not least of the challenges facing him and VF-17 was taming the hot new Vought F4U Corsair fighter. Slated to serve aboard a fleet aircraft carrier, VF-17 was transferred to land-based duty when the Corsair proved too hot to handle during carrier-deck landings. Though the Corsairs teething problems were worked out by others, it was Blackburn and his Jolly Rogers who proved its full potential as a killer of enemy airplanes. Both a war memoir and a caring tribute to the aggressive, hold-nothing-back young men he trained and led in combat, Blackburns story is an epic in World War II history annals.
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