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A FIGHTER GRAPPLING IN THE CENTRAL BLUE

— feeling amazing
Big Friend, Little Friend: Memoirs of a World War II Fighter Pilot - Richard E. Turner

For all of its 170 pages, "BIG FRIEND, LITTLE FRIEND: Memoirs of a World War II Fighter Pilot" is one of the best of its kind that I've yet had the pleasure of reading. Turner takes the reader along with him as he enters the cockpit of his P-51 Mustang fighter to undertake missions over German-occupied Europe, either providing bomber escort for the Eighth Air Force's B-17 and B-24 bomber groups or undertaking highly dangerous low-level dive bombing attacks on enemy airfields, emplacements, and railway junctions which were stoutly defended by fierce anti-aircraft fire. He also gives the reader the palpable feel of fear and excitement a fighter pilot experiences when he is engaged in intense high altitude, heart pounding combat with some of the Luftwaffe's toughest fighter pilots. At the time Turner entered combat, the Luftwaffe fighter force in Western Europe was still very much a potent force, not one to be taken lightly.

Turner flew combat with the 354th Fighter Group, the first unit in the U.S. Army to fly the new P-51 Mustang into combat, between December 1943 and September 1944. He emerged from the War as a double ace, with 12 German planes to his credit. He reverted to reserve status in the Air Force, completed his college education, married, and with the start of the Korean War, returned to combat flying F-86 Sabre fighters in 1951-52 with the Fourth Fighter Wing and tangling with MIG fighters over North Korea.