Climbing out for their first combat mission on 14 January 1944, did the 357th Fighter Group suspect that they were to become the greatest ace-producing unit of the USAAF in World War Two? Though actually based at Leiston these ‘Yoxford Boys’, as dubbed by the Nazi propaganda ministry, would gun down 595.5 German aircraft in aerial combat, produce 42 aces, claim the highest number of kills during a single mission—56—and host some of the USAAF’s most famous pilots. As the first P-51 Mustang unit in the 8th Air Force, the group’s 362nd, 363rd, and 364th Fighter Squadrons would rack up kills faster than any other unit in the last year of the war. This performance earned the group two Distinguished unit Citations (unit equivalent of the Medal of Honor).
Accomplished author, researcher and modeler Chris Bucholtz brings this story of the 357th to us as his third title for Osprey. Through fine research and writing, Mr. Bucholtz reveals the triumphs, tragedies, heroism, accomplishments of that outstanding team of aerial gladiators. The 36 new color profiles are by airbrush artist Chris Davey.
If you enjoy reading combat reports and reminiscences of fighter pilots, examining photographs of aircraft, studying missions, and enjoy the P-51 Mustang, then this is the book for you. This book delves into the origins, organization, history, milestones, and the lives of the ‘Yoxford Boys’ who shepherded Allied bombers into the maw of the deadly Luftwaffe defenders. You will find names familiar to almost every WW2 USAAF student: Chuck Yeager, “Bud” Anderson, and “Kit” Carson. You will also meet lesser-known but equally accomplished pilots: the O’Brien’s—Gilbert and “Obee”, “Bill” Overstreet, and Chester Maxwell.
From flying wheezing training P-39 Airacobras over the American West to the supreme P-51, Mr. Bucholtz weaves together this amazing story. His level of detail is extraordinary, often linking individual pilots to specific shootdowns:
• Maj. Ed Hiro’s death, on his last mission before being rotated home, under the guns of 7./JG 11 pilot Lt. Richard Franz just moments after Hiro’s 5th kill (Franz was then shot down by Lt. Ted Conlin)
• Capt. Browning of the 363rd dying in a mid-air over Woersdorf with a ME 262 flown by Geschwaderkommandeur Obserstleutant Freiherr von Riedsel
• Chuck Yeager’s shootdown by Fw 190 pilot Imfred Klotz – who was then downed by O’Brien
Fascinating anecdotes and stories abound including:
• Yeager’s bailout and evasion cost him a confirmed kill, e.g., policy was that escaping from France earned you a ticket home; Yeager contested it and was ordered to non-combat status, during which he responded to a call from a pilot down in the sea and shot down a Ju 88. The kill was awarded to someone else
• Overstreet chasing a Bf 109 down Paris’ Champs Elysees and under the Eiffel Tower arches before shooting it down on June 29
• 364th’s Capt. Maxwell big day on “The Big Day”: a triple kill including one ‘hard fought’, then saving a black-nosed P-51, only to be shot up by a yellow-nosed P-51. With his canopy shot off, his cooling system shot out, and belts of ammunition flapping out of his wings, he glided back to belly-in around Antwerp
• “Kit” Carson’s canopy shot off head-on right after making ace against JG 300 and JG 301
• During a Russia shuttle mission Overstreet traded his ammo for vodka, then got on the tail of a Bf 109, who’s pilot bailed out (presumably for punishment, Overstreet was not awarded the kill)
• Bad Soviet fuel hobbling Mustang performance
• Original 357th CO Col. Spicer leading a PoW revolt
You will read about easy kills and hard-fought victories. Quick kills and dogfights lasting a lifetime, turning battles, rolling scissors, wingmen shooting assailants off leaders’ tails while the leader fired, and Mustang performance verse Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf performance. Swirling rooftop dogfights over Paris. About the January 14, 1945 “Big Day”, when the 357th gunned down 56.5 enemy planes for the loss of only three. And why Yeager and Anderson started out on the mission but missed it! There are even some dirty little secrets revealed such as when 363rd ace Maj. Foy strafed and killed the running pilot of a Bf 109 Foy had just shot down. The book recounts the last kill of the 357th on April 20, 1945, and their last mission, escorting a SAR OA-10 on the 25th.
After the brief discussion of the 357th moving to Neubiberg in the occupation role, and final deactivation in August 1946, is a list of 35 of the group’s aces. It includes names, squadron, type of kills, and the tragic fate for many.
Mustang Aces of the 357th Fighter Group is presented to you in 96 pages of five chapters and an appendices:
1. FROM CALIFORNIA TO ‘BIG WEEK’
2. BERLIN BOUND
3. OVERHEAD FOR OVERLORD
4. HUNTING THE LUFTWAFFE
5. ‘BIG DAY’ AND AFTER
• COLOUR PLATES
The dramatic cover art is by noted Osprey artist Mark Postlethwaite. Enjoy Mr. Davey’s expert airbrushing talent through his 36 color plates of Mustangs. The 357th provides colorful and uncommon subjects with their yellow and red checkered nose and unique olive drab P-51Ds. In addition, many photographs are new to me. These are fascinating and poignant images of some of America’s youth during a horrible time. For the historian and modeler, this book is an absolute treasure of source material!
It is difficult for me to find any complaint with this work. The text is very detailed, very readable, and captivating. The illustrations are top-notch. To me, the wealth of photographs alone makes this book worth owning.
Whether you are a historian or modeler, Mustang Aces of the 357th Fighter Group is certain to please you. With the amount of authoritative detailed information, clarity of delivery, and abundance of outstanding photographs and images, I absolutely recommend this book!
Please remember, when contacting vendors or sellers, to mention you saw this book here—on The KitMaker Network.
Highs: Authoritatively researched, documented, and presented. Outstanding illustrations and photographs.Lows: Only nitpicky items.Verdict: This work should be heartily appreciated by anyone interested in 8th Air Force fighter aces.
Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...