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THROUGH BLUE SKIES TO HELL: America's "Bloody 100th" in the Air War over Germany [Hardcover]

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Item description for THROUGH BLUE SKIES TO HELL: America's "Bloody 100th" in the Air War over Germany by Edward M. Sion...

This book provides a comprehensive look at air war over Europe during the climactic year of World War II, combining firsthand experience with expert analysis. The centerpiece is a mission-by-mission diary of 1st Lieutenant Richard R. Ayesh, bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, who flew with the 100th Bombardment Group, 13th Combat Wing of the 8th Air Force-the legendary "Bloody 100th." He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre and the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, amongst others.

This book follows Ayesh's progress from his youth during the Great Depression in Wichita, Kansas, which was rapidly becoming the air capital of the nation, to his arrival in England as a Lieutenant in a bomber crew assigned to assault the Third Reich.

Once in Europe, the author provides a look at the principles of American daylight strategic bombing, while relaying the overall military situation on the ground and in the air just after D-Day. This work is uniquely self-contained and covers all aspects of Air War in a clear, concise, yet nontechnical manner. Topics include photo-reconnaissance, munitions and bomb types, aircraft characteristics, fighter and bomber tactics, bomber formations, strategic target selection, radars, countermeasures and counter-counter measures. The unaltered diary of Lt. Ayesh is presented mission-by-mission, punctuated by tragedy and heroism, with explanations and commentary of the significance of events and actions described en route. The result is one of the most frank and exciting works on the air war over Europe to date.

There is no varnishing of words in this book, instead, after Lt. Ayesh is followed on his perilous return home in U-boat infested waters, the book assesses the effectiveness of US strategy in ultimately paralyzing the Nazi war machine. Finally, the complex moral issues raised by area and city bombing are explored with 21st century implications.

EDWARD M. SION Ph.D. currently resides with his wife and two children in Radnor, PA


"... an exceptional work on the Allied bombing campaign during World War II. While drawing on his uncle's diary for close-in combat experiences, he also provides a scientist's eye for the true chokepoints of German industry, particularly its synthetic fuel industry. Full of facts, anecdotes and strategic perspective, while following the progress of America's "Bloody 100th" Bomb Group, Sion has provided a fascinating look at the massive WWII air war--a unique campaign in modern history."Stephen Tanner, author of "Afghanistan: A Military History" and "Refuge from the Reich: American Airmen and Switzerland During World War II"

"...delivers a real punch... a fine, straight forward, informative look at the air war over Europe after June 6 1944, with a surprising amount of new perspective on the moral issues of area bombing with implications in the present century. A worthy book about yesterday for today and tomorrow."Midwest Book Review, 06/2008

"very readable account...intertwines the deeply personal and day to day minutiae of life on a Mighty 8th bomber base with the pros and cons of daylight missions and US offensive strategy. A chilling read..."Flypast, 08/2008

" interesting and challenging read and a valuable contribution to air war literature."Fighting High (UK), 07/2008

"...enables the understand how and why things were the way they were in the skies of Europe in the Second World war. Very readable, surprisingly revealing."Aviation News (UK), 09/2008

" educated critique of the US bomber offensive during the Second World War.... An interesting read well worth taking up..."Scale Aircraft Modeler International, 09/2008

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Item Specifications...

Pages   220
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.12 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Publisher   Casemate
ISBN  193203367X  
ISBN13  9781932033670  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Germany > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Military > Aviation
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General
5Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General

Reviews - What do customers think about THROUGH BLUE SKIES TO HELL: America's "Bloody 100th" in the Air War over Germany?

Unqiue Book  Jul 23, 2008
This book has allot to offer but for me the real exception is in the mission journal, summarizing what it was like for this B17 crew over 34 missions. You read it as the Bombardier recorded it and this crew had many amazing experiences. These were brave men who risked it all for their country. I was left satisfied with my understanding of their experiences and this is a big compliment. I discovered this book after it was published, finding that my Father (long deceased) was a member of the crew..
A worthy book about yesterday for today and tomorrow  Jun 17, 2008
"Through Blue Skies to Hell" delivers a real punch. It contains a mission-by-mission diary of 1st Lieutenant Richard R. Ayesh, from Wichita, Kansas, uncle of author Edward M. Sion and a bombardier who flew 34 missions over Europe in a B-17 "Flying Fortress" with the 100th Bombardment Group, 13th Combat Wing, 8th Air Force during the closing days of World War II. Among his combat awards were the Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre and the Air Medal with four Oak Leave clusters.

"Through Blue Skies to Hell" begins with a brief biography of Lt. Ayesh, during the depression, in Wichita, Kansas to his arrival in England as a bombardier, assigned to the 100th Bombardment Group, through 34 missions and his return home.

Author Sion, PhD, and current Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University, then examines the bombs and bomb sight, the principles of American daylight bombing, bomber formations and tactics. He writes a brief history of Thorpe Abbotts, in East Anglia, just north of London, home of the 100th Group, followed by a mission-by-mission diary of Lt. Ayesh. The diary reminds us of the daily risks taken by young men seeing death on a daily basis, facing fields of flak, fierce enemy fighters and foul weather.

This is not a history of the 'Bloody 100th Bomb Group. That has been done before. It is a fine, straight forward, informative look at the air war over Europe after June 6th 1944, with a surprising amount of new perspective on the moral issues of area bombing with implications in the present century.

A worthy book about yesterday for today and tomorrow.

Richard N. Larsen
Two books in one! Layman's guide to the air war combined with a bombadier's diary  May 31, 2008
"Through Blue Skies to Hell," by Edward Sion, started out as a tribute to his uncle who flew 34 combat missions in a B-17 with the 100 Bombardment Group. He finished with his uncle's diary as the book's centerpiece, supplemented by very readable discussions of the technical and strategic contributions of the allied bombing campaign against Germany.

Sion's book is intended for the mainstream reader interested in World War II strategic bombing. His style brings to life dry topics such as the Norden bomb sight. Detailed discussions of this technological marvel could cure the most devoted reader's insomnia, but Sion's readable prose combined with apropos diagrams will keep readers engaged.

The Wizard's War between Germany and the Allies saw the development of numerous radar and electronic countermeasure systems. Sion includes chapters on some of these other technological marvels such as the German Wassermann, Freya, Würzburg-Reissen, and Lichtenstein radar systems. From the allied side, he includes radar guided bombing systems such as the GEE, H2S and H2X, the last of which is supplemented by an amazing photo of its radar image of the D-Day landings.

In warfare, technological advances drive new tactics and strategy. Sion again does an outstanding job describing contentious issues such as target selection, which caused a rift between US and British bomber strategists, into terms for the layman. More importantly, he provides the strategic context for how the ground war in western Europe was progressing, and how the bomber campaign contributed to the overall allied efforts.

With the technological and strategic environments in context, Sion then presents his uncle's diary. After each diary entry, he provides a layman's analysis of each mission describing the bomb payload and where the aircraft flew in the bombing formation. In a few instances, he also included personal interviews with other crew members to share additional perspectives on the more memorable bombing missions.

Sion concludes the book with a discussion on the moral implications of strategic bombing, again placing the bombings and destruction into strategic context. The intellectual arguments are very similar to those presented in other works such as "Among the Dead Cities", by A.C. Grayling. Sion's arguments are more succinct, yet just as effective.

My only complaint is that Sion seems to be unjustifiably critical of the British, especially his perspective that the tactic of area bombing used by the British was immoral. With the luxury of 5 decades of hindsight, it is difficult for today's strategists to appreciate the true historical context of these strategic decisions. He is equally critical of the United States' firebombing of Japan, but I just felt he was too harsh on the British.

This book is well-researched, well-supported by diagrams and photographs, and easy to read. I highly recommend "Through Blue Skies to Hell" for any airpower enthusiast. If you enjoyed, Stephen Ambrose's "Into the Wild Blue", you will enjoy this one too.

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