cover image Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in World War II

Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in World War II

Geoffrey Perret. Random House (NY), $30 (549pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40464-4

With verve and elan, Perret ( There's a War to Be Won ) presents the epic narrative of American air power in the Second World War. On one level, he chronicles the work of energetic, single-minded military men--Henry ``Hap'' Arnold, Carl Spaatz, George Kenney and Curtis LeMay--with powerful civilians such as Robert Lovett (clarifying his role in linking the aviation industry with the Army Air Corps) and industrialist Donald Douglas, manufacturer of some of the warplanes that made up the great U.S. air armada. The book also covers wartime research & development: the evolution of engines, armament, armor plating, fuel tanks, gun sights, bomb sights and, above all, the testing and operational deployment of American warplanes. These planes included the P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47 and P-51 fighters and the B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-29 bombers. Each plane was distinctive in capability and characteristics, and Perret defines the differences in detail. Finally, his book offers vivid personal accounts by former pilots, bombadiers and turret gunners that convey the exhilaration and terror of aerial combat. Photos. (Aug.)