A sneak peak of the final cover art of the book. The Red, Yellow and Blue segments represent the colors of the 3 squadrons that make up the 365th FG.
Its been a while since I have updated you on the progress of this book, and some of you may have thought the project had died on the vine. Far from it. In fact, VERY far from it!
First off, the book now has a title. The previous working title lacked a little in the sexiness department. Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks has a lot more punch to it, don't you think?
Don Barnes, the man who's baby this project is, has dug deeply over the last 2 years, and has come up with a vast treasure trove of never before seen photos and personal stories. He has tracked down over 20 pilots that are still with us, and has become good friends with almost all of them. He has collected a staggering 800 unpublished photos from the personal photo albums of the pilots and crew members.
The book contains about 600 photos, of which about 20 have been published in other books. The rest have languished unseen in photo albums for the past 66 years. Many of the images will be printed full page. The range of subjects is quite varied, showing life in the Hell Hawks in great detail, with many images of the Thunderbolt's they flew, the pilots and ground crews, quarters, airfields and support equipment, even a selection of captured aircraft and destroyed targets. The vast majority of men in the photographs are identified by name.
To make this even more impressive, Don has fully documented and illustrated ninety two P-47s that were attached to the unit in detailed color profiles. Before this, the only documented aircraft from the unit was "Coffey's Pot".
John Crump has spent hundreds of hours researching and writing the history of the unit. I wrote the first few chapters, but I had to back out, as I did not have enough time to devote to the project. John stepped in and did a terrific job of bringing the story to life. I am very proud to be a part of this project, but my contribution is small compared to what Don and John have done.
This book is in the very final stages of layout. Some last minute photos and stories have slightly delayed the process, but it will result in a better and more comprehensive book. We expect it to go off to the printers in the next week.
What started life as a book with about 140-150 pages has grown with each passing month into an impressive 320 pages. If you have read Jones' and Dorr's book Hell Hawks, you will find that Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks has very little overlap, and it will add a lot of depth and background to what is a fascinating book and a great read. They are complimentary. Reading both will give you a very detailed and rich understanding of what life was like for these brave men. Its a story that has been largely overlooked up til now.
More news on the book will be coming in the next few days.
Happy modelling! Roy