The Three Musketeers of the Army Air Forces

From Hitler's Fortress Europa to Hiroshima and Nagasaki
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Binding:Hardback
Published:November 15, 2015
By Robert O. Harder (Author)

While scores of books have been published about the atomic bombings that helped end World War II, little has been written about the personal lives and relationship of the three men that led the raids. Paul Tibbets, Tom Ferebee, and Ted “Dutch” Van Kirk exemplified what Life Magazine meant when in 1942 it called the B-17 pilot, bombardier, and navigator “the three musketeers of the Army Air Forces.” A former navigator-bombardier and pilot himself, Harder brings a fresh perspective to an otherwise well-known narrative. While scores of books have been published about the atomic bombings that helped end World War II, little has been written about the personal lives and relationship of the three men that led the raids. Paul Tibbets, Tom Ferebee, and Ted “Dutch” Van Kirk exemplified what Life Magazine meant when in 1942 it called the B-17 pilot, bombardier, and navigator “the three musketeers of the Army Air Forces.” A former navigator-bombardier and pilot himself, Harder brings a fresh perspective to an otherwise well-known narrative. He provides a rare insider’s look at exactly who these three fellows were, how they were trained, what they meant to each other, and finally how everything coalesced into the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks.

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Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 288 pages
  • Illustrations: 30 b/w photos
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (November 15, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1612519024
  • ISBN-13: 9781612519029
  • Product Dimensions: 6.125 X 9.25 in
  • Shipping Weight: 22.08 oz
Praise
  • “This is an easily readable text, which is neither verbose nor lengthy. In many instances, the notes include additional information and clarification to the text. There are no maps, but an eight-page photographic section has multiple shots on each page, including a diagram of the Norden bombsight. This is a sometimes intimate look at the lives of three of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ whose immense responsibilities can only be imagined in a wartime situation, yet were just as human as anyone else in wanting to end the war, enjoy peace, be with their families and live long, healthy and productive lives. This is certainly a testament to those who survived the Great Depression and went on to help eliminate the immediate threat of world domination by European fascism and Japanese imperialism.”—JAMP: The Journal of America’s Military Past
  • “Drawing on his own experience as a navigator and bombardier aboard a B-52 bomber during the Cold War, the author brings together stories of these three men using in-depth interviews, well thought out research, and technical accuracy. He dispels several of the mistakes about the atomic missions that have crept into the accepted narrative over previous decades. Overall, the book is well written, clear, and engaging, a fascinating look at America’s original atomic warriors.”—WWII History Magazine
  • The Three Musketeers of the Army Air Forces is a wonderful book to read for a look into the lives of the men who flew into history on that fateful day. By presenting a narrative of the crew members' entire lives, Harder helps the reader identify with the men on a more personal level. Furthermore, this technique reveals how the crew handled the pressure, thus letting the reader walk away with an appreciation for what they really did. At the end of the day, this book is a great read for anyone who wants get a better picture of the individuals who flew those fateful missions and of how they created the world's first nuclear combat unit.”—Air and Space Power History
  • “Robert Harder combines excellent writing and superb research with an almost unique advantage of having hands-on experience in the long ago era of which he writes. This fascinating book tells the life stories and amazing partnership of the immortal Paul Tibbets and the far less well-known Tom Ferebee and Ted “Dutch” Van Kirk.” —Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, author of The Influence of Air Power upon History
  • “At last, a history of those airmen who grew up in the air war over Europe flying a B-17 before traveling to the Pacific to be the number one atomic-bomb crew who dropped a ‘Little Boy’ bomb on Hiroshima. Tibbets, Van Kirk, and Ferebee have been lucky with Robert Harder as their biographer.” —Robin Higham, author of Two Roads to War and Unflinching Zeal; emeritus professor of military history at Kansas State University
  • “Readers will be convinced that these crewmates were indeed ‘the three musketeers of the Army Air Forces,’ as Life magazine dubbed them in 1942. This eye-opening book leaves no doubt that they were in every instance ‘one for all and all for one’” — Aviation History Magazine

Robert O. Harder was an Air Force ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate and Strategic Air Command “Cold War” B-52D aircrewman with 145 combat missions during the Vietnam War. A rated navigator and radar bombardier, he also flew nuclear training sorties and stood Pad Alert. A former business executive, he is an FAA-certificated flight instructor and writer. His previous book, Flying from the Black Hole: The B-52 Navigator-Bombardiers of Vietnam was first published by the Naval Institute Press in 2009. Visit the author's website.

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