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Air Apaches

The True Story of the 345th Bomb Group and Its Low, Fast, and Deadly Missions in World War II
Written by: Jay A. Stout
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
Length: 15 hrs and 5 mins
5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The American 345th Bomb Group - the Air Apaches - was legendary in the war against Japan. The first fully trained and fully equipped group sent to the South Pacific, the 345th racked up a devastating score against the enemy. Armed to the teeth with machine guns and fragmentation bombs, and flying their B-25s at impossibly low altitudes - often below 50 feet - the pilots and air crews strafed and bombed enemy installations and shipping with a fury that helped cripple Japan. One of the sharpest tools in the US arsenal, the 345th performed essential missions during Gen. Douglas MacArthur's campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippines, earning an impressive four Distinguished Unit Citations. This was punishingly dangerous work, and the 345th lost 177 aircraft and 712 men - young men doing their duty in the spirit of the Greatest Generation. Neither was this the more gentlemanly war of Europe, with its more temperate climate, resistance networks aiding downed crews, and POW camps. Airmen shot down in the Pacific theater faced drowning in the ocean, disappearing in the jungle, or torturing and beheading by the Japanese in a war of no quarter expected, no quarter given. A compelling follow-up to Stout's Hell's Angels, Air Apaches reconstructs the missions of the 345th Bomb Group in striking detail, with laser focus on the men who manned the cockpits, navigated the B-25s, dropped the bombs, serviced the planes, and helped win the war. To tell this remarkable story, Stout worked closely with the group's surviving veterans and dug deep into firsthand accounts. The result is a compelling narrative of men at war that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats.

©2019 Jay A. Stout (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • B Taub
  • Ann Arbor, MI United States
  • 2019-03-16

Great Info About a Little Discussed Part of WW2

Like most of Mr. Stout's books, I really enjoyed this one. It covers the history of the 345th bomb group from its start on New Guinea through its fighting in and from the Philippines and on to its time actually in the Japanese home islands. There was a lot of great detail in here and I left with a real sense of what fighting the air war in that part of the world was like. If you're interested in this topic (and if you like military aviation history, you should be), great companions to this listen would be "Lucky 666", about a B17 crew that flew from New Guinea in 1943 leading to a medal of honor for the pilot and "Indesctructible", about Pappy Gunn.

The Mr. Stout probably doesn't read these reviews but, just in case, he opens the book with a gripping account of a mission on which a B-25 crew is brought down by friendly fire in New Guinea. This has to be a largely fictionalized account of that experience (the mission is referred to later in the book) as the entire crew was killed in the crash. This piece was quite engaging and really shows how historical fiction / fictionalized accounts of real events can give us a better understanding of what it was like for the airmen. It would be great if he put his military flying experience and writing skills to the task of writing an entire book in this format, perhaps following the exploits of one crew or writing a series of accounts from the perspective of crews in different parts of the war.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carter L.
  • 2019-02-09

Great Story and a Great Performance

This is a very well-told and engrossing story of the hard-fighting men of the 345th Bomb Group. The stories of individual men are told within the context of the grand strategy of the Allied march toward Tokyo. So then, rather than just a collection of stories, the listener gets a sense of what the men experienced as the Japanese were worn down and the Americans and their Allies turned the war to their favor.

Tactics and equipment are discussed enough so that the listener understands the challenges that the 345th's men faced. However these discussions are not overwhelming. Rather they are just enough to make the personal stories meaningful.

The work is notable for artfully incorporating the contemporary views of the men who did the fighting and fixing without being filtered through the modern-day machinations of political correctness. Thusly described, the men become real, rather than one-dimensional, flag-waving caricatures.

The narrator's performance is top-notch--nuanced and authoritative, while still easy to listen to.

This is a terrific work about a lesser-known aspect of the World War II air war.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • R. Denton
  • 2019-04-25

Boring and unorganized unit history

First of all, my dislike for this work may be largely because it was a very poor choice for an Audiobook, and the narrator did not help either. Basically it's a fairly typical unit history with some added content by the author and some anecdotes from letters and perhaps interviews, but it does not resemble a "story" in any way. Because it is audio, it just sounds like one long and uninspired reading of official records with some personal bits here and there with no organization at all. I've read some of Jay Stout's books in print, and even though they were also lots of anecdotes and personal recollections, you could see paragraph breaks and such that let you know the scene was changing or something. In this audio version there is none of that. You get bites of experience by named flight crew, but never get a chance to know them because in a few minutes they are off the stage, and something else is being described, only to hear them quoted much later for maybe two minutes.
All in all, I have to fault the author/compiler and editor for not finding a way to weave some common threads through this and help you to know at least a little about some of the flight and ground crews. The narrator was a poor choice also as he sounded completely uninterested in the content and did nothing to bring it to life, even though there are some "pretty interesting" experiences on many of the missions. I ended up jumping forward many times to see if if got better, but it never did. By contrast, Stout's <i>Hammer From Above: Marine Combat Over Iraq</i>, is also lots of personal experiences and anecdotes, but they are long enough to stand alone like short stories. I realize most of the crews of Air Apaches have gone away from us now, but I still think this could have been a lot more compelling with better compiling/editing and a different narrator.

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Pete Harrell
  • 2019-05-21

Verbose

The book needs an editor. Way to much pointless detail that gets in the way of the history and story. It could be half as long without losing anything of value.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • thomas
  • 2019-07-30

Disappointed

Did not finish
Narrator is so bad I had to replay chaper after chapter because I couldn't stay intrested.
0 emotions

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles E Pittman
  • Neptune Bch. , Fl 32266
  • 2019-08-14

Informative.

The book was easy to follow, and describes in detail the brutality of what our servicemen when through. The environment they endured, the tragedies they experienced, and the suffering when they became ill, or wounded was told with brutal reality. I listen with intensive to every word. I am forever grateful for each and everyone for the men that secured my freedom for America. I’m not sure we can be confident in the same from our current generation. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • uprsc
  • 2019-04-21

Great Story

A lesser known part of the Pacific War. Absolutely amazing what these men and units did. True pioneers and heroes whose exploits should be better known
Missing from the story is the Japanese side of the battles. These units were devastating but some of the battles are viewed differently.
Check out Bruce Gamble's Rabaul trilogy

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • R
  • 2019-04-24

One of the Best!

My Dad flew B-25 in this story gave me a “inside” look at what he went thru. Also, as a veteran myself all I need to say is Semper Fi!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • s todd carmichael
  • 2019-03-06

15 hours of entertainment

Enjoyed entire book start to finish. Highly recommended. Details I have never heard before thumbs up

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas Le Min
  • Newark, DE
  • 2019-07-10

Excellent WWII combat aviation history!

This book traces the progression of men from their initial training in the states through their transport to the Pacific Theater on through their many bases and assorted missions.

Their stories are told in a sober manner that dignifies their combat actions without glamorizing it. Sadly, it hits home just how very many men were killed and injured during operations, often in the mere blink of an eye.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful