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World History of Warfare

The Mighty Eighth in WWIIThe Mighty Eighth in WWII

A Memoir

J. Kemp McLaughlin USAFR (Ret.)


Book published by University Press of Kentucky


On an early morning in the fall of 1942, Kemp McLaughlin’s group set out for a raid on a French target. Immediately after dropping its bombs, McLaughlin’s plane was hit. A huge fire burned a four-foot hole in his wing, his waist gunner bailed out, his radio operator was wounded, the plane lost all oxygen, and his pilot put on a parachute and sat on the escape hatch, waiting for the plane to explode. And this was only McLaughlin’s first sortie. McLaughlin went on to pilot the mission command plane on the second raid against Schweinfurt, the largest air raid in history, which resulted in the destruction of 70 percent of German ball bearing production capability. McLaughlin also participated in the bombing of heavy water installations in Norway. The Mighty Eighth in WWII also includes the stories of downed pilots in France and Holland who traveled under the cover of night through the countryside, evading the Nazis who had seen their planes go down. As a group leader, McLaughlin was responsible for the planning and execution of air raids, forced to follow the directives of senior (and sometimes less informed) officers. His position as one of the managers of the massive sky trains allows him to provide unique insight into the work of maintenance and armament crews, preflight briefings, and off-duty activities of the airmen. No other memoir of World War II reveals so much about both the actual bombing runs against Nazi Germany and the management of personnel and material that made those airborne armadas possible.

REVIEWS:

“Well-written, fast-paced and filled with anecdotes.”

Bowling Green Daily News

“He laces tense battle scenes with humorous anecdotes about the famous people we met along the way.”

Charleston Gazette

“This book should be on the shelves of all those who are interested in the Allies’ massive raids over Germany. It is a standout effort by one who was there, and it’s a perceptive view of the entire effort—well worth the price of admission. ”

Flight Journal

“Fills in several gaps in the history of the air war of Western Europe. Told by a ‘been there, done that’ combat commander, McLaughlin gives us precise accounts of such air battles as the devastating bombing of Schweinfurt.”

—Gen. Philip P. Ardery, author of Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II

“This is an astounding inside look at The Mighty Eighth which we have not seen before.”

Hollywood Inside Syndicate

“No other book presents such an interesting and perceptive picture of what it was like to be involved in the middle management of a bombardment group. Here is where the day-to-day and mission-by-mission decisions were made; reading McLaughlin’s account is essential for understanding the true story of this air war.”

—Jerome Klinkowitz, author of Yanks Over Europe: American Flyers in World War II

“I had trouble putting the book down, as I am sure others will feel, especially Air Force fans”

Military

“The process of putting together an attack was dauntingly detailed, something that most memoirs don’t discuss. Readers will get an excellent view of combat operations in all aspects.”

Paper Wars

“Links chronological anecdotes of life in and out of combat during his stint with the Eighth, adding explanations of how the air force actually functioned and grew in experience and size to achieve victory.”

Publishers Weekly

“Provides valuable insights into air combat and the intricacies of the 8th Air Force.”

—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“An amazing account of one man’s factual account of his involvement in these events.”

South Carolina Review

“His crisp, clear narratives of the youthful hi-jinks of flyers in foreign lands, and of facing death in the skies, put a human face on that wave of men who fought for freedom in the skies over Europe.”

WTBF Radio

“McLaughlin’s account is lively and nostalgic as he recalls his training in the months before Pearl Harbor.”“McLaughlin provides an excellent description of both Group and Aerial operations, and the drain constant action had on the men and the aircraft.”

World War II Quarterly




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University Press Audiobooks