B-17 Flying Fortress B-29 Superfortress at War is a reprint of two books; it is obvious what was the division. Both books are by different authiors but follow the same basic format of describing the development and use of these two bombers during World War Two. While the description sounds staid and formulistic, I want to emphasize that the contrary is very much the case.
Through use of intelligent narrative and oral history, the two authors provide a rather unique view of these aircraft that gave the stories a warm, human aspect while not relinquishing the technical necessities. The life-cycle of both aircraft is presented in chapters related to the overall history of that plane. Thus the B-17 section covers early (mis)use by the Brits and the Army Air Corps, then moves into a quite interesting discussion of the bomber over Europe from the point of view of each position of a notional ten man crew. The B-29 section covers also the early mis-steps until the bomber – never quite as reliable and (perhaps) as beloved by its crews – hit its stride in the bombing of Japan from the Mariannas. It then goes on the present the B-29’s swan song in the Korean War.
From a visual perspective the book rates very high in its use of photos that – in many cases – I have not seen in other books. One example from the B-17 section was the view of a Sperry belly turret falling away from the bomber in preparation for a belly landing. In the B-29 section is a photo of a gunner dangling out of the plane while in flight. The explanation was made that the bomber had “a problem” with the curved plexiglass blisters sepaarting at high altitude; a fact I had never heard or read before.
The book is excellent and will be as interesting to a newcomer as to an oldtimer.